Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 512: (Japanese) I Want To Go To The Grand Canyon -- Synopsis and Review

That's the way, Hata! It should be ALL NAGI ALL THE TIME!
Synopsis: Chiharu: Woo! So this is the Grand Canyon, sugoi! And I'mma say something inconsequential.

-Ok, so gotta find that 10,000 (10 million?) yen here...
-This be teh last game!
-This thing is huge! It's like an open world game!
-Anyway, gotta start!
-Where the FU....~!
-Friggin Kananiwa san said this game is all about psychological warfare but...

Flashback Kananiwa: This is a game of tactics desu!
The field is large so you can try finding the gold coins on your own or try finding them together (or somethin)

Chiharu: That's what she said! But this field is HUUUGE! I might never meet with anyone before the psychological warfare begins.

I won't even meet an enemy or anything here in this is is Sh*tty game!

Chiharu: Screw this! I'm retiring! (presses completer)

Eh? WTF! This thing's not working now?

Oh wait... this place is huge, so maybe help won't come immediately. But I dun have my smartphone... should I try waiting?

1 hour later

2 hours later

Chiharu: This pattern... give me an effin break, really?

Calm down, me... calm down.

Tiem to build a sundial!

Aha! The position of the sun will tell me... absolutely nothing! Where the eff am I~!?

Calm down, me! Maybe if I look around...

Suddenly, a wild Tsugumi appears!

Chiharu: Wha! It's a person! It's a real person!

I have no clue who it is, but she must be resident.

Hey, you! (catches Tsugumi looking at the sundial she made earlier)

Fu... you're just as clueless as me, aren't you?

Tsugumi: lolwhut?

Chiharu: You're just as lost as me! You surely are!

Tsugumi: ZOMG! STFU! You're in trouble aren't'cha Harukaze san?

Chiharu: Oh... you're from the orientation...

Tsugumi: Tsugumi Ruri

Chiharu: Anyway, you're just as lost as me, right?

Tsugumi: ......

Tsugumi: No I'm not. I'm friggin knowledgeable about the Grand Canyon... for example, see that squirrel over there?

Chiharu: Blathers on about the squirrel coz the guide told her before she came there.

Chiharu: So...?

Tsugumi: sweatdrop

Chiharu: Is that it? I was right! You're just as lost as me!

Tsugumi: Alright, fine! I'm just as lost as you! So what? Is that bad?

Chiharu: No... but it's just made the situation worse!

Tsugumi: Fu.... it's not my fault the Grand Canyon is so effin GRAND You know...

Chiharu: Ok, ok... I get it.

Anyway, if we cooperate, we can surely survive together.

Tsugumi: Wakata! Let's do our best together!

Tsugumi: Anyway, let's look for a high place so we can see where we are.

Chiharu: Maybe we won't be able to see anything from above

Tsugumi: Yeah, but this cliff is scalable so...

Chiharu: Is that really such a good idea?

Both climb the cliff

Chiharu: What do you expect to find up here anyway?

Tsugumi: Dunno, but we might find something

Chiharu: But it sure is difficult...

Tsugumi: (Can't understand... something like put out your hand if you need help)

Chiharu: See's under Tsugumi's skirt.

Tsugumi: Where are you looking at!?

Chiharu: Hey, hey! I can't help that!

Tsugumi: And I was talking seriously too...

Chiharu: Stop kicking at the cliff!

Chiharu: Dude! Stop it! If I fall, I'll really die! I'm not joking anymore!

Tsugumi: Then stop staring at my panties and climb seriously! Seriously!

Chiharu: Ok, I get it! So hurry up and climb!

Tsugumi: Seriously! WTF is up with this Grand Canyon?

And so... we continued to climb the cliff.

Tsugumi: Fu... stare at my panties all you want. I dun care anymore.

We kept climbing the cliff in order not to die and then...

Tsugumi and Chiharu: Where the eff are we? Why is this Grand Canyon so large?

We shift to Nagi and Hayate

Only panel of mai waifu in this chapter.

Nagi: By the way, 10 people get lost forever in the Grand Canyon every year... be careful.

Hayate: izzat so, Ojou-sama?

Review: I liked Nagi's outfit in the cover and the way she's drawn in general. As a friend pointed out, it's really nostalgic and brings back memories of the manga from the earlier chapters.

Well, this was a  rather inconsequential chapter. Kind of a let-down after all that build-up in the last few chapters... anyway, no bombs going off yet, so not much to review on my end. For those complaining about where Chiharu went... well, there she is.

Let's see... art-wise, Tsugumi is really cute... well, of course she is! She has Nagi's face after all -- and so does almost everyone else. But, I do find her innocence quite charming. She seems to retain her personality from CTMEOY -- which is a good thing.

In any case, I have no idea where Hata is going with this, but I do hope he's not planning to slow down in the plot build-up again. Just a few chapters ago, people were already speculating about how we might be seeing the last few chapters of Hayate with Ad Astra looming in the background, but given the pacing in this chapter, I really don't think Hata is in that much of a hurry to end this manga -- although I do believe we are finally on the verge of the final arc.

Fanart Corner:
Not quite done with this one yet, but I thought I'd show you anyway. This is going to be a special fanart for Nagi's birthday on December 3. I plan to tweet it to Hata-sensei. I hope he likes it. (Check out the print on her shirt... so true!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 511: (Japanese) While We Draw Kananiwa-San Has Become Cute -- Review and Synopsis

Old... Chiharu looks old.

Synopsis: Lemme give ya the quick version.

Nagi and Hayate are doing a little souvenir/window shopping in Vegas.
Everyone is enjoying their time in Vegas now since the competition is over. Anywayz, Hina is contemplating her next move coz she has sooo NOT given up on Hayate-kun just yet. For her, the debt is gone, but with Hayate still being a butler, the status quo hasn't changed... no! This is her chance to act! This is what she wished for isn't it? What should she doooooo?
At least I'm not the only one who thinks Kananiwa is cute. Definitely NOT Dolly.
Meanwhile it seems the last portion of the trip will be at the grand canyon, but it was supposed to be part of the orientation. Anyway, things happen and Kananiwa proposes one more game at the grand canyon and Yukiji asks Kananiwa for one more chance at this game and everyone sort of agrees. Hayate's worried that he might lose the prize money coz of this. Nagi says it's gonna be alright coz she'll never lose. (LOL I skimmed a lot over this part, so pardon any inaccuracies)

Nagi wonders where Tsugumi went.

Anyway, Sakuya's reporting in to old man Mikado and he's like all "everything is proceeding as planned." No doubt he's planning something with A-tan again.

Finally, we get a shot of Ruri Tsugumi because Hata is reminding us that he knows his plotlines and he'll finish them all off by hook or by crook!

Review: Well, this chapter brings a little bit of relief to me because the bomb between Nagi and Hayate hasn't been set off yet -- but it will soon be. It's going to be bad for my heart, but it will be good in the end for Nagi's sake.

Her twin-tails have become Hatsune Miku length
Anyway, I just hope Hata's not planning to bring back the status quo again by having Hayate lose the money in this Grand Canyon thing and then bringing his debt back again.

I would say the highlight of this chapter would be Hina's reflection since it's clear that she hasn't given up on Hayate just yet (unlike how some people saw it) and she believes that things are still the same -- just that Hayate doesn't have his debt now.

Also, I still like Kannaniwa's character and character design -- yes, she really has become cute. (Assuming I didn't mistranslate that part)

Fanart Corner: Finished this one. I might use this for Nagi's birthday on December 3... along with a photo I've done.

This is actually based on a season 1 Nagi keychain

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 510: That's Why The Girl Loves -- Review and Synopsis

Synopsis: Kananiwa ain't so bad after all and Hayate returns the King's Jewel to her. That only leaves him and Nagi left in the competition. Nagi is still asleep and she's reflecting on her feelings for Hayate in her sleep -- as expected, she is still deeply in love with him (told ya). 

It breaks my heart to know that Hayate is about to break her heart.
Anyway, there's lots of awesome moments of reflection for Nagi and she finally wakes up and realizes that the completer is down to 2. She rushes over to Hayate and Hina thinks that Nagi is now going to win, but instead, Hayate presses Nagi's completer -- but it's not so bad. He declares that she is more important and that he will continue being her butler even though he has more or less paid off his debt now.

Nagi takes this as a sign that he is definitely in love with her, but the narration implies something else -- apparently, there is a bomb between them and the Royal Garden will be opened by an explosion of negative emotions.

Review: Wow! What a loaded chapter. I loved it though -- mostly because everything is going as I've predicted so far. If so, then there will be some hard times falling upon the Nagi camp in the next few chapters because I'm almost 100% sure that Nagi is going to get her heart broken. Now that the debt has been cleared, the only loose end left to tie up is the initial misunderstanding that Nagi has that Hayate is in love with her. It's a misunderstanding because Hayate has never shown any romantic feelings for her -- which is not a bar to him coming to realize/developing romantic feelings for her, but given how the plot is unfolding, he is definitely NOT going to reciprocate Nagi's feelings in this situation.

This panel is so cute

In fact, I'd say quite the opposite is going to happen and Hayate is going to do something that will absolutely break Nagi's heart -- allowing for the explosion of negative feelings to happen. Fortunately, with the main focus of the drama now being between the two of them, I don't see this as a bad development at all. In fact, it's the perfect setup for the final arc. I see something along the lines of Nagi being made the new victim of the Royal Garden and Hayate going off to save her one last time -- as her butler... or something else. In any case, it's a perfect parallel to how Hayate once tried and failed to save Athena from the Royal Garden as a kid. Now he has a chance to redeem himself -- but before that, he must make his resolve firm, he must come to terms with what it is that he really feels for Nagi and why she is so important to him.
Hayate is going to be a jerk soon... and he's going to regret it BIG TIME!
Of course, your chosen girl might still win, but I'm a Nagi shipper, so pardon me. :)

My favorite part of this chapter is definitely Nagi's self-reflection. I love the narrative about how numbers are strong unlike formless love, and how she declares that her feelings have not changed. Seriously, how can you not like her after this chapter? Oh... right, haters gonna hate~ continue. 

It's almost like I saw this coming huh?

By the way, this panel looks quite a lot like this fanart I made a few months back for my fanfic: Sore Ga Ai Deshou?
I need to sit down and color this properly by next chapter

Also, have a loli-er than usual Nagi fanart.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Our Vacation In Manila: Day 5 - Final

The last day of our vacation in Manila was quite colorful... unexpectedly. The day began with free breakfast at the hotel as usual. Check-out is at 12:00 PM, so we had already decided to go back to the room after breakfast, finish packing up our stuff and then check out early. We could still leave our luggage with the hotel staff for security and we had time to visit at least one more mall before we had to leave for the airport to catch our flight at 6:45 PM... or so it said on the ticket.

The check-out process went pretty smoothly. We gave some of the surplus small snack items we'd procured for our stay in the hotel to the hotel staff who always cleaned our rooms and he seemed genuinely thankful.

The earring looks pretty good on me, I'd say :)
Anyway, we took a taxi to Market! Market! because I wanted to check out a few things there. We stopped by the costume jewelry stalls for a bit and I bought an earring which my mother haggled from 100 pesos down to 50 pesos (one USD = approximately 45 Philippine Pesos). My mother's haggling skills can be rated as 11 out of 10. She managed to haggle down a bracelet that was selling for 150 pesos to 150 pesos for two bracelets. Basically, what she does is that she asks for half the price of the item and then haggles it down lower when the seller refuses, then she pretends that she's not really interested and does the slow walk-away thing... which worked 100% of the time in this particular situation.
This place called "Miracle Art" is a good alternative to Art in Island
While walking around the mall, I noticed there was this area, which was similar to Art in Island... except it only had 300 square meters of space while Art in Island's museum was about 3000 square meters. Still, the entrance fee was much cheaper and it's easier to find, so it's a good option if you want to take those illusion pictures from my day 2 post.

After that, I wanted to look at some video games again.

After fumbling around with the layout of the mall a bit -- I haven't been here for years after all, I finally found the Datablitz store there and proceeded to check out their 3DS and Vita games. The 3DS games were a bit pricey, but I saw a few cheap titles that I was interested in for the Vita, namely: Batman Blackgate, Ys Celceta, and Child of Light. I decided that maybe none of these were really worth a purchase though. After walking around the mall a bit more, my mother saw some Hush Puppies shoes on a 40% sale that she seemed to like, but after trying them on, she was a bit undecided. I knew she liked them, but she didn't seem convinced enough to buy them.

At about 11:30 AM, we crossed over to SM Aura, which is just right across Market! Market! We were going to hear mass there. Just in case you're wondering, I'm an atheist, but my mother is not. She is aware of my lack of belief, but I do accompany her whenever she goes to Church... I also listen to the sermons because they're kinda interesting at times.

The mass began at 12:00 PM sharp and ended exactly one hour after that at 1:00 PM. We had lunch at SM Aura's foodcourt again just like last time... except there were tons of people there this time. We did find a good table though. We had lunch at the same Chinese place again. We really liked the food there last time and this time was no exception either. A funny incident occured in the table in front of us. There was an Indian family of four with two kids, a younger girl and an older boy aged around 6 and 8 respectively. The girl was complaining and pouting about her food and it was interesting to see how the father pacified her without shouting at her or resorting to violence -- both are almost default options for many Filipino parents regardless of their status in life... anyway, the girl eventually calmed down even though she was throwing a tantrum earlier. I found the scene quite fascinating... my mother had a different interpretation about how they were too cheap to buy any real food when they were obviously pretty well-off. Well... I'm not too sure about that. I mean, most Indians are Muslim after all, and the need to have this "halal" diet thing seriously limits your options.

After lunch, we went back to Market! Market! where my mother decided to go back to the Hush Puppies store and with  one final push from me, she finally decided to buy those shoes she was looking at earlier. With that, I decided I was going to get one game as well, and I decided on Child of Light since I wasn't really that interested in the other two.

After that, we bought some water inside the supermarket and then it was time to take a taxi back to the hotel. A funny thing happened while we were hailing a taxi cab because my mother was getting paranoid about the time since it was already about 3:30. She was walking ahead at a very fast pace -- obviously getting a bit panicked about finding a taxi while I just used my eyes and saw that there were lots of empty taxis so I hailed one that was right in front of me... but when I called out to my mother in a loud voice, instead of turning around, she broke into a run while covering her head. She'd ran about 10 meters before she turned around to face me and saw that I was just calling her to get into the taxi. It turns out she thought that there might be a  suspicious person behind her and that the tone of my voice seemed urgent and frantic, so she thought she was in some kind of danger. 

We both had a good laugh at that inside the taxicab... speaking of the taxi ride, the driver knew that we were obviously not from Manila since we were speaking a different language than Tagalog and he decided to one-up us by pulling up to gasoline station (his tank really was near-empty) but not stopping his taxi's meter while he was filling up. People can be really pitifully petty.

We arrived back at the hotel by around 4:15 and after gathering our luggage, we took a taxi to the airport. It was time to say goodbye to Manila -- a place that is familiar to me, but will never be THAT familiar to me. By the way, the airport is only like 10 kilometers or so from our hotel.

A little consideration is a lot to ask for, apparently
After checking in our luggage without a hitch, my mother was already frantically making her way down to where our boarding gate was. I told her to relax a bit and take a look -- there were tons of people there, so it was going to be uncomfortable waiting there for at least an hour. She agreed and we had a light snack of iced coffee and pasta at a Mrs. Fields inside the airport... it was rather expensive for such a light meal, but that's par for the course when you're in an airport, I suppose... at least that's how it works in the Philippines. Oh... and their free wifi didn't work too. My mother almost left the bag with her new Hush Puppies shoes behind, but fortunately, one of the waiters rushed right over to us to give it back.

Also, it was a good thing that we decided to relax for a bit because our 6:45 flight got delayed all the way back to 8:30. I spent most of the waiting time clearing songs in Project Mirai DX for the 3DS while my mother was chatting with some of her former students who were in the same flight as us.

At some point, an announcement came for the guests in the waiting lounge not to put their luggage on the seats to make room for other guests... which totally fell on deaf ears as far as this guest is concerned. I'll let the pic speak for itself.

After that, it was just the plane ride home... and that concludes our 5-day vacation in Manila. I hope you enjoyed reading this series of travel blog posts. I can't really promise to do this that often because I don't travel that often, but I do enjoy writing these.

Our haul from Manila
To end this series on a proper note, I'd just like to top it off with something I've said quite a long time ago, but which really rings true with me in all of my travels so far.

People tend to say that "traveling opens up new horizons." Or that it's something that will somehow change your perspective -- especially when you travel to a foreign land for the first time. I remember around this time last year, Hong Kong didn't change my perspective and my Manila trip just reinforces my beliefs more. Traveling simply reinforces my belief in the things that I've always known.

What I've personally learned from my meager list of places traveled in this vast yet insignificant speck of dust in the known Universe called Earth, is that its people and places really are the same the world over -- traveling to an unfamiliar land is a bit like using Windows with a different theme and someone else's custom settings. The places might seem visually different, but after all, a building is just a building, a bridge is just a bridge, a sunset is still a sunset no matter where you are. There are variations in the way they look visually, but that doesn't change what they are essentially. The same is true with people. People really are the same everywhere. We may look radically different due to coming from different racial descents, but human nature is really the same everywhere. No matter where you go, you WILL see the ugly side of people as well as the small, unobtrusive triumphs of everyday unsung heroes. The human experience is never ideally beautiful, but it is what it is -- and once you realize this, that is where lies its true beauty.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Our Vacation In Manila: Day 4

Well, my sore throat is gone and my mother seems to feel better as well. This just reinforces my belief that the irritation was most likely caused by the pollution in this city.

So, this happens to be the penultimate day of our vacation here. We leave at 6:45 PM tomorrow.

Today, my Aunt came early to our hotel room and after breakfast, we immediately took a taxi to the Greenhills Shopping center where my mother planned to buy some cheap bling-blings.

I love this place and I always make sure to visit it every time I'm in manila because inside one of the interconnected malls, there's a small wing with nothing but otaku and hobbyist-related shops -- not that I planned to buy anything unless I saw a Nagi figure that I didn't already have. Unfortunately, they only had a whole bunch of Love Live figures and tons of expensive Miku ones.

Anyway, I split up with my mother and aunt and went window shopping a bit. There were several other otaku hobbyists browsing the stores and I like how the store clerks know exactly how to deal with our kind: just let us browse in peace, we'll call you if we need anything. One thing I noticed is that otaku here don't fall under the fat, basement-dweller stereotype that America has popularized. In fact, otaku culture in the Philippines is a bit different in that people seem to be proud to be one and wear it as a sort of badge of honor for being one of the elite who can appreciate the finer things in life -- such as manga and anime... seriously, those are the kinds of vibes I get with the customers in this particular wing wearing expensive brand-name clothing and talking in English out loud as most socialites are used to doing here.

In any case, while I was tempted to buy a Ranka Lee swimsuit figure, I decided that it was either going to be a cheap, but authentic Miku or Nagi figure or nothing... so I ended up with nothing.

I went searching for my mother and aunt after that and stumbled upon a small stall selling self-defense equipment and knives. I ended up buying a cheap but really nicely made "balisong" or butterfly knife. I like collecting and practicing with weapons, you know.
This thing is called a "balisong"
I love knives! This one is cheap but really nice-looking.
I met up with my mother and aunt shortly thereafter and we took a taxi to a new mall called "Robinson's Magnolia." The place was reminiscent of SM Aura, but a bit smaller. It also wasn't fully-functional yet, but it was pretty nice over-all. We had lunch at a place called "Gumbo," which apparently was "a taste of New Orleans." The food was nice, albeit a bit expensive. My mother ended up buying two boxes of their muffins since we liked the samples they gave us.
I know someone who'd love the name of this store.
After lunch, we finished touring the mall and then took a taxi back to the hotel. I had a chance to use the GrabTaxi app that I'd downloaded at the start of this trip after the fiasco from day 1. It was great because the app gives you the license plate and the driver's name as well as a gps tracker of where the taxi is at the moment and how far away the car is from the pick-up point. I'd recommend that you make use of this app if it's available in your area. We rested up a bit because we were to meet and have dinner with a friend of my aunt who also happened to be a good friend of another aunt on my mother's side.

The Pena's were family of four with two teenaged kids aged 16 and 15. We took the hotel's transport service to the Greenbelt shopping center where we had dinner at a restaurant named "Contis." It was a pretty standard western-influenced restaurant with none-too-fancy dishes, which suited me just fine since I hate complicated flavors... and seafood.

Anyway, the Pena's were quite an interesting bunch. The father was a rather talkative man who liked to joke around while his wife was a bit more reserved. The two kids seemed quite shy since they could only communicate in English because they grew up in Brunei and didn't understand either Tagalog or Hiligaynon very well -- much less speak it. I reminisced a bit about my law school days with Mr. Pena who seemed quite interested in what law school was like. My mother seemed to get along well with the couple as well.

While having dinner, I overheard a mother scolding her kid, who seemed to be around 6-8 years old because he apparently wanted to stay in the restaurant forever. What she said (in English because people who are rich here distinguish themselves that way by speaking in English) sort of struck a chord with me. She said, "Do you know what your work will be if you want to stay here forever? They're going to make you wash the dirty dishes here all the time. You'll be like them (pointing at the waiters in the restaurant with a demeaning tone of voice)."

I thought that this reprimand was a bit inappropriate since it just emphasizes the culture of class-based shaming that is really prevalent in the Philippine. Basically, being a janitor, waiter, or a taxi driver denotes that you are from a lower class and that it's shameful to be that way -- and this is the message that this parent was trying to impart to her child, I would assume. Still, maybe I was just reading too much into this.

Anyway, after dinner, we took a walk around the Greenbelt, SM and Glorietta malls -- which were interconnected. One of the security guards at the entrance to SM greeted us with enthusiastic but a bit broken English. My mother found this amusing -- she being a strict English and speech teacher... I didn't. I didn't want to laugh nor make fun of this man because he was simply doing his job and being enthusiastic about it. I'm sure my mother realizes this as well, but it just felt wrong to me because I was already influenced by the scene from earlier in the restaurant.

We parted with the Pena family after we were ready to go back to the hotel. They were actually staying in the same hotel, but we had to take separate taxis because we couldn't all fit into a single sedan-type car.

Back at the hotel, we finished packing up our stuff since we were checking out tomorrow.

That ends day 4. Tomorrow is our last day here. It's been a really nice vacation so far -- even though we didn't really see too many new things. I believe that it's caused not by my limited knowledge of the place, but also because of the fact that age is starting to catch up with my mother and her legs really aren't as good as they were about a decade ago, so we can't really walk for long distances -- even just to find our bearings and go exploring for a bit... that's not really a loss though. Even if we are jut visiting mostly familiar places, the important thing is to have a good time and to unwind, de-stress and relax.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Our Vacation In Manila: Day 3

My mother caught a bit of a cold today. She was already complaining about a slight sore throat yesterday. Anyway, my throat also feels a bit sore. I blame the pollution and congestion in this city. Also, the super-crowded, hot and stuffy MRT train cars.

Anyway, the day started with free breakfast at the hotel as usual, then we had to head to the drugstore to purchase some a throat gargle and some lozenges. Fortunately, it's just sitting right next to the hotel. We had breakfast at about 9:10 AM. After breakfast, we got ready to go malling again and departed at about 10:00 AM for SM Mall of Asia. It's just a short jeepney ride away and the terminal is literally right at the side of the hotel.

We arrived at the mall at about 10:40. I was actually pretty familiar with the place because it has a really simple layout. It's one of the largest malls in the Philippines, but it only has two floors and three buildings -- one central building and two wings on each side. The central building houses all types of stores, a foodcourt, a moviehouse and a skating rink while the other wings have restaurants, a department and a supermarket. There are also some pay telescopes at the very end of the mall since the back of the mall overlooks the ocean.
Maybe I'm a bit of a weeb but I liekz teh Nep
You cannibals!
We didn't really have any plans in particular, but upon wandering into a Datablitz store (a local video game retailer) I couldn't help impulse-buying two new PS Vita games since they were dirt cheap compared to the prices we get at Iloilo where there's no official retailer.

After that, we took a little walk around the mall and my mother managed to buy a few gifts for her friends back at Iloilo -- of all places, inside the SM Department store. The irony is that there are SM Department stores all over Iloilo as well; of course, they do have more stuff on stock here.

We had lunch at a Wendy's branch within the mall area. I also managed to take a picture of this place that a friend online recommended that I see.

After lunch, we took a little stroll around the mall just window shopping and at about 2:30, we decided to go back to the hotel. We were going to meet my aunt at another place later.

After some fumbling around, we found the jeepney terminal with the jeepneys that would take us back to our hotel. We got back at around 3:30 and were out again to take the MRT to meet my aunt about 7 stations away.

The station we got off on was actually connected to the Farmer's Market mall -- which in turn was linked to the Gateway mall where we met up with my aunt. We were actually going to a place called "Art in Island" a short walk from the mall where you could take "Illusion pictures" of 2D/semi-3D paintings and sculptures for interesting effects. I actually enjoyed posing for pictures, but the bad thing is that I couldn't take my own pictures because really, my mother and aunt are kinda hopeless at capturing the effect I want... nevertheless, I've uploaded the best pics.

THIS is how you do a friggin Angel pose.

This came out pretty well.
I can't swim very well, but... I can float on my back anyway.
Eat your heart out, Alexander the Great!
It's mah-vel! Shoryuken pose goes with anything

To enter or not to enter...
Is a question not worth asking.
So as I live...
Unlimited GAME WORKS!
"What's YOUR problem, Santa?"

Anyway, it was already 8:00 PM by the time we had explored everything. We had a modest dinner at a local Filipino restaurant and then parted with my aunt as we took the MRT back to the hotel.

At night, we noticed just how dirty the path back to the hotel was from the MRT station from all the garbage that people leave behind. I just couldn't help drawing a comparison to Hong Kong where everyone was so disciplined -- nobody threw their garbage on the floor/road. It's a bit sad that we, as Filipinos, can't follow the same example. Really, it's no skin off your back to NOT throw your garbage where it doesn't belong. Your lot in life shouldn't even be an issue.

That wraps up day 3.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Our Vacation In Manila: Day 2

So... day 2 of our vacation was a bit uneventful. We started the day with free breakfast at the hotel. Then we went back to the hotel room to rest up a bit before going out.

Our first stop was to see what the new SM Aura mall is all about since it still wasn't here when I was living here about 2-3 years ago. We had to navigate our way to Bonifacio Global City via one train ride and one bus ride. The place has really become well-developed with tons of new commercial buildings since I was last here.

Anyway, the bus ride took about an hour at least, but was relatively peaceful. We alighted at one of my favorite shopping malls, Market! Market! I knew that SM Aura was somewhere near it but I didn't realize that it was just literally facing the Market  area of said Market! Market! mall.

My mother in front of SM Aura

So it was about 2:20 when we arrived at SM Aura, mostly due to the heavy traffic. The place was very nice and was designed in a linear fashion sort of like the Rockwell mall or the new wing of SM North Edsa. It also had lots of high-end and brand-name shops together with the usual mix of affordable brand staples like Bench and Penshoppe. Anyway, I'm not really much of a shopper, so all we really did there was take some pics and  then have a late lunch at some Chinese stall at the food court.

After that, we made our way to SM Megamall where we were to meet my aunt again.

It's not the camera angle. This thing is huge and heavy.

Me and my aunt

There was a bit of trouble getting into contact with each other via text messages, probably depending on which area of the mall we were at, but we eventually met up at about 7:00 PM. After a nice, but rather heavy dinner (look at the size of the pizza) at some Italian place called Avenetio or something similar, we took a walk around the mall for a little bit until about 9:00 PM.

There was a taxi service inside the mall called "GrabTaxi," which basically uses a cellphone app and GPS units to call in Taxis and private cars registered under the company and within the vicinity to fetch passengers. It was much more convenient than the fiasco yesterday. I'll have to remember to install their app since it basically allows you to set your destination with a specified price and call in their taxis/cars from wherever you are in the city.

Anyway, that's the end of day 2.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our Vacation In Manila: Day 1

So I'm on vacation right now in Manila. It's just a local trip, but it is one plane trip away from my city. This isn't my first time here... heck, I lived here for two months back when I was reviewing for the bar exams (which I failed, before you ask)

The trip started out on the wrong foot, really... and ironically, the first mishap would set the tone for the other untoward incidents for the remainder of the day -- that of unprofessionalism. Our flight was scheduled for an 11:15 AM departure today, so we had called a local taxi business called "Light of Glory" a day before the flight to hire one of their taxis to take us to the airport by 8:30 AM so that we'd have plenty of time to get things in order at the airport. Come at 8:15, the taxi service hadn't called nor had their taxi arrived. We had to call the ourselves and guess what? The operator said that there were no available units at this moment but they'd have one fetch us within 3-5 minutes. So anywayz, come 8:25, we gave them another call and this time, the same operator says that there really are no available taxi units at this time because all their taxis were "pulling out" really fast. So anywayz, we told them that this is an internal business process and had nothing to do with us, the client. All that we know is that we had scheduled a pick-up at this time with 24 hours notice to them and they failed to comply.

With that aside, we found a free taxi nearby who agreed to take us to the airport for pretty much the same rate as Light of Glory. We arrived at the airport at around 9:50 AM -- still plenty of time to check in our luggage and even have a light snack at one of the restaurants at the lounge area.

Our plane finally departed at around 11:20 AM. A little bit late -- but quite acceptable. The pilot announced that we were making our final descent into Manila at around 11:45 AM, which was actually earlier than the estimated arrival date of 12:20 PM. Unfortunately, probably due to runway congestion, the actual touchdown came at 12:41. 

No mistaking these pieces of luggage
Upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, we found our check-in luggage pretty easily (because who else would use bags like these?) and then boarded a bus which took us to within walking distance of our hotel. We checked in at just a little bit after 2. We were to meet with my aunt a little bit later, but we had lunch inside a KFC at Metropoint Mall, which was just right next to the hotel.

I had a bit of trouble setting up the wifi for my laptop and had to ask help from the IT personnel at the hotel, so we somehow made it just in time for rush hour at the train station (MRT). I have to say, the MRT has really degraded quite a bit since I was last here just about 3 years ago. Back then, the air-conditioning was pretty good even though it did get a bit overcrowded. Right now though, it took over 30 minutes to get from the last point of the southern station (EDSA/TAFT Avenue where our hotel is located) to the last point of the northern station (North Avenue which is where the Trinoma mall where we were to meet my aunt was waiting.), the air-conditioning is almost nonexistent and they don't even announce the names of each station clearly at each stop -- aside from the fact that there are almost no signages.

Oh yeah! Project Mirai DX GET!
Anyway, after meeting up with my aunt, I finally got my physical copy of Project Mirai DX at Datablitz... and it comes with a lanyard too!
My mother and aunt
After that, my mother couldn't decide on a restaurant at Trinoma Mall, so we crossed over to SM North where my aunt suggested that we try Burgoo... which was a great idea since they had crayons and a paper tablecloth for the kid... I'm a big kid, ok?
lordcloudx was here

So after a really filling but delicious dinner, it was time to go back to the hotel, but the train stations were already closed at this time... now here's where we were treated to another spot of "Filipino Professionalism." At the taxi waiting area, the taxis were acting all high and mighty and choosing which clients they'd allow to ride. They favored people whose destinations were only a short distance away. If you wanted to travel a longer distance, they'd either outright refuse or demand that you pay them extra... beyond what was due to them on their taxi meters.

Well, we finally got a taxi who agreed to a sort of reasonable settlement after about 45 minutes... but I have to say, the elderly woman and her family who were also hailing taxis right next to us had it worse. I have some video segments of how these taxi drivers were behaving.

We had a nice chat with the taxi driver on the way to the hotel and I was actually already quite pissed off at this point and thought of him as some desperate, unprofessional, money-hungry boor -- and I probably wouldn't be wrong here, but talking to him did help give me a little bit more perspective as to his predicament -- and probably that of a lot of other taxi drivers and other people living in this huge city of extreme poverty and extreme affluence.

So basically, our taxi driver was originally from my City, Iloilo, but his family moved here when he was 10. He eventually became a taxi driver, but he just rents the car that he's using via a "boundary system." He has a wife and three kids and he speaks my language and a few other Filipino dialects well. He obviously can't earn enough from being a driver, so he sells herbal supplements, which he bought from some company's starter kit on the side for an amount that I would willingly spend to buy a new PS Vita. From the way he said it, this investment was a make or break deal for him... but he did break even within the first month... fortunately for him. He also buys and sells merchandise from the flea markets of Manila to the more remote provinces of Luzon whenever he can.

Now his story is most likely a pack of half-truths and perhaps a few plain lies, but I did catch the sincerity in the way he told his story of "working hard" and while I had already prejudged him for asking for extra compensation as soon as we boarded the taxi, I could sort of see things his way and perhaps understand, just a bit, just why he'd be somewhat unprofessional and not all straight and narrow in his work as a taxi driver. It's easy to say that we should always do the right thing no matter what the circumstance, but then again, it's usually the people from the privileged class who have never been through what the hardworking, poorly-compensated average Joe has to go through on a daily basis.

Personally, I know I've never worked as hard as this taxi driver in my entire life -- and I certainly hope I never have to and his situation is not even that bad. The sad reality is that his story is probably very common all throughout this city and while I've spoken of contrasts in Iloilo City before, the contrast in the rift between the rich and the not-so-rich is really quite pronounced here in Manila with its tall skyscrapers, luxurious hotels and resorts, sportscars all while other people live in makeshift houses made out of scrap plywood and rusted roofing and resort to begging or sifting through garbage to earn a little bit of cash to feed themselves.

Anyway, that tops off the first day of my vacation in Manila.

Nakoruru: The Gift She Gave Me (Dreamcast): A VIsual Novel Review by Mid-Tier Guard

To Derek Pascarella, Marshal Wong, Duralumin, Lewis Cox, Piggy, Nico, Danthrax4, Lacquerware, EsperKnight, SnowyAria, VincentNL, cyo, and Ha...