Friday, July 25, 2014

Starbucks Card Anniversary Treat on August 7

Happy Anniversary to the Starbucks Card Philippines!

Can you believe that its been almost a year already?

As a treat to all of us Starbucks fanatics:

Here's all of the Starbucks Cards that was launched in the country.  Do you have all of them???

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Travel Diaries: Lost Hand Carry in Osaka & Lost Stroller in Hong Kong

Japan is truly an amazing place.

I am constantly in awe of their country, the sights, the cleanliness, the helpfulness and everything Japanese.

A few months ago, we went to Osaka.  As with every trip, I bring a trolley type hand carry for Kailee's things.  In it were jackets (since it was still cool during April-May) water, milk bottle, snacks, books, medicines and extra clothes.

When we arrived in Osaka - we decided immediately to visit Rinku Premium Outlets.  We decided on this because the area was nearest to the airport.  We didn't want to go back and forth - we felt that it was a waste of time.  So to kill the curiosity of the outlet - we hit it right after we landed.  The Japanese made everything convenient.  They had a shuttle bus that travelled to and from the Airport to Rinku Outlets.  Since my Panget, Kailee and I had 2 bags between us - I was in charge of Kailee's stroller (which she uses) and the hand carry.  Within 15 minutes we were at the Rinku Outlets.  So we dropped our luggages off at the lockers area and walked around to see what was available.

There were a LOT of shops actually - there was a Gap, Coach, New Balance, Nike, Adidas, a Lego store and more.  Click here for the complete listing of the brands available.  After an hour or so, we decided to go back to the hotel since it was getting late.  We didn't want to wait for it to get dark before heading to the hotel.  Since it was a foreign land - sunlight is our friend.  And so we walked - about 10 minutes to reach the train station.

Their train station is very organized - there were timetables to somehow know how long it will take for you to reach your intended destination.  I was told by friends that there were 2 trains to take to Namba - one is the Rapi:t and the Rapi:t Limited Express.  So I parked the stroller and my hand carry infront of the counter, told my Panget and my friend Selene to just stay there while I talk and ask which train to take.  So I asked the attendant which was the fastest way - and he mentioned the Limited Express but,  we had to wait for another 20 minutes for that particular train to arrive.  He suggested that we take the next available train - I forgot what kind of train it was, but it had more stops.  It would reach the same destination at almost the same time.  I asked my Panget and he said that he wanted to leae NOW - so I bought tickets to the train that was leaving soon.  That soon was in less than 5 minutes.  The attendant called my attention and told me to hurry along as we might be left by the train.  You know if Japan, time is very important.  So I hurried along, got the stroller and pushed it towards the turn style.  WE had to ride the elevator up because we were with our luggages.  We were right in the nick of time.  We found seats and sat on them, waited and relaxed for a bit.  There were not luggage racks so we had to man our luggages.  It was not until the 3rd or 4th stop that I realized that my hand carry was missing!  Dammit!

I realized too late.  What ran through my head was the lost Avent Tempo bottle that Badet traded off with me.  It was so useful for traveling.  All the rest of the items in the bag were replaceable.  I was sad - but it was my fault.  I forgot it!  I guess, I was too excited.  So when we reached the Namba Station - I tried my luck - I knew that the Japanese had a hard time speaking in English, but still I tried.  I went to an attendant and he lead me to a counter.  There I was able to converse with an English speaking attendant, I told him my concern - that I left my luggage at the Rinku Station I gave the description and the contents.  He told me to wait as he called the Rinku Station office.  And I think after 5-10 minutes of waiting (that seemed like an hour!) they found my bag!!  I was told that they could pick it up, but then I pushed the envelope - I asked them if they could bring it to Namba Station - to where I was staying.  After a few minutes, I was given the thumbs up sign - it meant that they will bring the hand carry to Namba Station - I was told to go back at 8-9 in the evening.  I sighed with relief!!

So there - I got my hand carry back.  Thanks to the wonderful honest Japanese people and their hospitality.  I was so thankful and grateful!  I was in disbelief!  Imagine if that happened here in Manila - it would have been really lost or stolen.

This act of kindness - really made me love Japan even more!  This made me realize that there are still GOOD and HONEST people in the world.  Unfortunately, they don't live in the Philippines.  Sad.

So there - if you leave or lose something in Japan.  Know that you can still find it and you can still have it back!

Love love love Japan!!

This brings me to another thing that I almost lost.  I blame my brain - my early morning brain to be exact.  So last week, when we got to Hong Kong - we were waiting to board the Airport Express.  I was with Kailee - since I nearly lost our hand carry the previous trip, I made sure to remember to bring it along.  I was taking a mental note 'Do NOT forget the hand carry.  DO NOT lose it again!'  So I set it down near my feet with the stroller.  After settling down a bit - I was attending to Kailee's needs when I heard my Panget calling us - the train has arrived and we needed to board it.  So I was hurrying along and collected my things and Kailee - and headed on to board the train.  I put the hand carry by my side and waited till we reached Kowloon Station.  There, I led the way to the are where there was a FREE shuttle that would bring us to our hotel.  While waiting - I then remembered - THE STROLLER!  I looked for it and saw it nowhere.  Dammit!  I forgot it again!

To be honest - I knew that it was a long shot to find my stroller again.  I was in Hong KOng and not in Japan.  I knew that my chances were slim compared to my chances in Japan.  But still, I took a chance.  So I hurriedly went to the attendant's station to inform them that I left my stroller.  There was a language barrier of course, but I was expecting that in Hong Kong it would be easier - but it wasn't.  I had to use all the synonyms that I knew of a stroller!  I used the words 'pram' 'push chair' 'stroller' but they couldn't understand me.  I had to point to Kailee before they realized what I was talking about!  In Hong Kong the term was 'Child's Carriage' Haha!

But I was unsure if it was left on the train or on the platform!  So, I just asked them to look.  They called the airport station office and the train - to try and look for the stroller.  The attendant told me to sit and wait - and wait I did!  I think it was one of the longest 15minutes of my life.  Hahaha!!  I was then told that they found the stroller and that it was left on the platform of the airport express at the airport.  I asked them if they would be able to bring it to Kowloon Station - after a few minutes, they told me that it would take a longer time to bring it there - that I would need to pick it up myself. My first concern was that I needed to pay for the fare again - but they graciously told me 'No Pay!'  So I immediately took their offer to go back to the airport to retrieve the stroller.  I then instructed my Panget (who initially told me to leave the stroller behind- I refused because I'm sure we'd have a hard time when Kailee naps!) to go on ahead to the hotel and check in.  He was with two luggages and Kailee - I asked if he could manage and he gave me this sarcastic look.  Whatever!  So there, I was lead by the MTR personnel back to the platform going back to the airport.  It took 24 minutes to get back to the airport - and another 10minutes to retrieve my lost stroller.  So I again had to board the train to go back to Kowloon Station.  When I got there, I saw the people who helped me and I was so happy that I showed them the stroller!  I am in awe on their efficiency because again, if it happened here in the Philippines - it would have surely been lost, nor would anyone want to help me.  I was shocked to be honest - that in a place where rude people is a norm - I was able to find helpful people.  I was really lucky.

Yeah, I wasted an hour - but you see, my Panget was told to go back at 3PM to have our rooms.  So he just went around the mall with Kailee and Kailee dozed off in his arms.  At least he was smart enough to look for a place to sit!  When I got to them, Kailee was already asleep - we just had to transfer her onto the stroller - but within minutes, she was awake.

The stroller proved to be very helpful this trip and the last trip.  It was a life saver since all we needed to do was push it around while Kailee napped.

I need some work on my brain - to help me remember things.  Is this the effect of the anesthesia or is it part of the ageing process?  Hahahaha!!

I am so thankful to my guardian angels that the things I 'lost' during my travels - have come back to me.  Thank you Lord!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1st Edition PHILIPPINE Starbucks Card


Our very OWN Philippine Starbucks card!  I was so excited when I learned that Starbucks Philippines would be launching the FIRST edition Philippine Starbucks card!  Yahooo!  Something that we can call our very own.  And here's a sneak peak on what it looks like:

Nice right?  I agree 100% with Starbucks that they chose this particular design.  The Philippine Eagle symbolizes so much of our culture and I am so proud to have been witness to this launching.

Starting July 29, 2014 - the First Edition Philippine Starbucks Card will be available in stores!  For the first three days of the launch (July 29 to July 31, 2014) for very P1,500.00 activation on the Philippine Starbucks Card - you will receive an additional P300.00 load to your card!  Sweet, right??

And as a tribute to the First Edition Philippine Starbucks Card - there is the Philippine Starbucks Card Tumbler that sports the same design.  From July 29 to August 31 - for every purchase of the Philippine Starbucks Card Tumbler using your Philippine Starbucks Card - you will be treated to ONE FREE Tall handcrafted beverage.  Remember - you need to use your new Philippine Starbucks card to purchase the Philippine Starbucks Card tumbler to enjoy this treat!!

There you have it!!

So head on to any Starbucks branch on July 29 - to get yourself the First Edition Philippine Starbucks Card and enjoy its treat!  Collectors, be sure to hurry because the tumblers are sold in limited numbers per store!!

Thank you Starbucks Philippines!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hong Kong Diaries: Tim Ho Wan in Central

The first time I tried Tim Ho Wan was in North Point last year.  We were brought there by my Panget's cousin and I think I was the happiest chowing down so many barbecued pork buns!  Since his cousin was under the weather last week, we decided to have 'merienda' by ourselves.  And since we were in Central, I suggested that we walk to IFC.  Central has this massive covered walkways - so we walked on it towards IFC.  It was a relaxing walk - it wasn't crowded when we were there (it was about 2-3pm) when we reached IFC I asked the friendly attendant where Tim Ho Wan was - we were told to go down one level and then another level - and that it was on the MTR building.   So I followed his instructions.

Gosh, this was the tricky part because - well, there were so many escalators going on different directions that I didn't know which to take!  We were going around the IFC Mall and getting lost for about 15 minutes, when finally - we were led to the right path given the right directions.  We were honestly very reluctant as we were tired from all the non-sense 'lost' walking - but then, tada!  We found it!  It was just below the Check-In counters of the Central Station!  Argh....

When we got there, the place was already full.  I saw that people were falling in line and then I just followed.  But then I remembered, I knew that they had a queueing system.  So I asked the foreigners in front of me and they were just as confused as me and were lining up.  Good thing that the people around us knew how to speak in English and told us to wave to a waiter so that he can issue us a paper with a number on it!  And so we did.  Hahaha!!  In less than 5 minutes, we were seated in a common table. 

The food was as usual very good.  I mean for the price that you're paying - they're very much worth it.  I was disappointed though that I didn't get to order the lotus leaf glutinous rice.  It was crossed out in our menu, so I thought it wasn't available.  Turns out - it was available!  But we were too full already.

The price point is really good if you ask me (HKD28.00 up) because most of the dimsum places that I go to (in HK) costs about HKD40.00 and up for an order.  So in Tim Ho Wan, the value for money is really well spent!  Thing is, during peak hours - you'd really need to fall in line and wait for a long time.

Tim Ho Wan
IFC Central Station
MTR Buidling L1
(it's just below the City Check-In counters)

i-Shine Talent Camp 3 Mentor: Zsa Zsa Padilla

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Zsa Zsa Padilla shares her past experiences to talented kids of the present for an exceptional future

Zsa Zsa Padilla is a veteran actress, TV host, singer, and a true Philippine icon with more than 30 years of experience, but she has a new title to add under her belt –Singing mentor for Promil Pre-School i-Shine Talent Camp 3. The divine diva, who was recently unveiled as one of the top caliber mentors of the show, will be taking on the responsibility of mentoring this year’s batch of talented preschoolers. Together with a panel of esteemed mentors: choreographer and G-Force director, Georcelle Dapat-Sy, and world-class television and film actress, Angel Locsin, Zsa Zsa will be guiding chosen preschoolers through singing workshops.

For 25 years, Promil Pre-School has been well known for talent development, raising awareness for parental participation, proper guidance and good nutrition as factors that play major roles in bringing preschoolers to their full potential. The Promil Pre-School i-Shine Talent Camp is one of Promil Pre-school’s advocacies, in which the talents of Filipino children nationwide are engaged. “It’s exciting to be part of something that recognizes and appreciates talent at a young age.” Zsa Zsa shares that the show is something that brings back memories of how she started as an artist.

Nurturing talent in your formative years
The divine diva today can automatically command the attention of any room she enters, but the singer reveals that it wasn’t always like that. She started out as a shy child who only got to sing in front of her family. “I grew up in a compound where we all lived close to each other,” she recalls. “When my uncles would get together in the late afternoons, they’d get the guitar and they’d ask me to sing.”

Zsa Zsa, together with her cousin whom she grew up with, Gino Padilla, learned to harness their skills while doing duets to entertain their uncles. “I always knew that I love singing. Even as a child, when I’d hear a song on the radio, I would sing it immediately. I had fast recall and my family noticed that about me,” she says. “They would ask me to learn a piece, and then I’d perform it for them. I was the entertainment. Ganun ako nahasa (That’s how I was trained).”

While she knew she had the talent, it was her family that allowed her to gain her confidence in front of a crowd. “Singing for my uncles, that’s really my first memory of my musical background. Allowing me to sing for them was their way of nurturing my talent.”   

Through Promil Pre-School i-Shine Talent Camp, Zsa Zsa hopes to develop the raw talent of the chosen preschoolers. “These kids are curious and eager to learn, but you need to guide them while they’re still young and sensitive to change. You need to show them that they’re capable, because they’ll really take that with them as they grow up and develop their talents.”

It’s not always in the genes, but also in the environment
Though Zsa Zsa’s parents weren’t musical people, she was able to master her craft because of her exposure to music through her family. While both her daughters, Karylle and Zia, are musically inclined, she credits not just the genes, but also their environment growing up. “Karylle was exposed to the entertainment industry at a young age. During that time, she was much more interested in ballet, but she’d see me host for a popular show and she’d just take it all in. We knew she could sing, and eventually because of all the exposure to it, singing just became second nature for her.”

This is why Zsa Zsa believes that getting kids on shows like the Promil Pre-School i-Shine Camp will give them the right exposure so they can dream big early, and learn how to pursue these dreams early. “These kids are lucky because there’s a program available like the i-Shine Talent Camp. At a young age, they’ll already be exposed to the music industry, which will really help them develop to be artists,” she shares. “Promil Pre-School has provided a venue for kids that love singing, dancing, and acting to really work at their craft.”

Proper motivation to reach their full potential
Having Zsa Zsa on board is going to be a treat for the Promil Preschool i-Shine finalists, because this means they are going to be the first who will get valuable training and mentoring from a pillar in the country’s musical industry.

It will be a personal challenge for the Zsa Zsa to be firm and honest, but still encouraging with the way she guides the preschoolers. “They're very young and sensitive. They would take everything you say to heart,” she says. The first-time singing mentor plans to add a mother’s touch to her mentoring style. “It’s important to boost their confidence, but still making sure that they properly learn the craft,” she adds.

Despite the success she’s earned with the music world, Zsa Zsa also wants to share her hardships with her mentees. “These kids really come from all types of backgrounds. I also want them to learn that getting to your dreams entails battling the odds and persistence through hardship,” she says. “The kids are eager to learn about the industry, and it will be my responsibility to show them the ropes, to share with them as much as I know, including the challenges that come with it.” While the competition might be tough, Zsa Zsa is confident that with proper guidance and nutrition, the newest batch of i-Shiners will all prove to be stars.

Catch Zsa Zsa and the rest of the Promil Pre-School i-Shine Talent Camp 3 mentors, Georcelle Dapat-Sy and Angel Locsin, on ABS-CBN. Hosted by Dimples Romana, Matteo Guidicelli, and Xian Lim, the Promil Pre-School i-Shine Talent Camp 3 is giving away over Php 1 million worth of prizes and a contract form ABS-CBN and Promil Pre-School to the grand winner.