Sunday, November 6, 2016

Marvel’s Doctor Strange is a Perfect Addition to the MCU

I’ve always been a fan of Marvel movies. From Wolverine, Spiderman, to The Avengers (Captain America is my favorite but he really disappointed me in Civil War), I tried to watch every one of them if I have enough budget. I’m no stranger to the current superhero that Marvel is showcasing this weekend. I’ve read about Doctor Strange since high school and was interested in the character not only because he uses magic but because he has a strange name. In fact, Doctor Strange is more interesting to me than Ironman. The only time I got to know more about Ironman was when its first movie came out. Doctor Strange is my second favorite Marvel character, the X-Men Gambit being the first. Suffice to say, I will be watching the Gambit movie featuring Channing Tatum, which will be showing hopefully in 2017.

Dr. Strange cinema shot

Cinema schedule and price of Dr. Strange at SM Masinag.

To those who don’t know the character, Doctor Strange is a renowned neurosurgeon in the Marvel Universe who had a fatal car accident. In the process, his hands became incapacitated making him loose his job. In his attempt to bring back what he had lost, he ended up becoming Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme. I won’t go into full detail about Strange in this post. I’ll just point out the portions I liked about the movie.

So my wife and I decided to watch Doctor Strange this Sunday afternoon. What I know so far is that this Doctor Strange movie should be giving another piece of the Infinity Stones, which I thought was the Reality Gem because of all those twisting and turning buildings that I’ve seen in the trailers. It turns out that it’s actually the Time Gem disguised as the Eye of Agamoto.

The movie has different characters compared to the comics. Baron Mordo was from the very start an antagonist in the comics but here he is a friend to Strange, only to have a change of heart after the ending credits. But I liked the different tone they gave the character. Jonathan Pangborn was also an interesting character that, as I found out, was not in the comics.

The movie’s concept of the mind as a powerful tool to change our current state in life reminds me of the book The Secret. As the saying goes, “what your mind can conceive, your body can achieve.” And the concept of astral was hilarious. There were a lot of funny scenes. Some of the fight scenes were dizzying especially when you’re too close to the cinema screen as in our case.

I liked the ending scene where Doctor Strange stands near the window of the New York Sanctum. He then looks at his broken watch. This new life is a far-flung difference from the one he once had as a rich neurosurgeon. From saving the lives of his patients as a doctor, he is now a Sorcerer Supreme saving the world from dimensional threats. This is the cost that Jonathan Pangborn told him about.

The warning about distracted driving at the end credits is also a great reminder for all of us to focus on the road and not on our cellphones. And that little, extreme scene has the most impact in Dr. Strange’s life and in ours.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Tagaytay Trip Two

It’s Marrietta Perez Bassig and Marissa Perez Bassig’s birthday today and the family had planned this trip some two weeks ago. It’s quite a long trip but not as long as our last trip to Manaoag, Pangasinan. My wife, my son, and me usually wake up late so our preparation turned out to be a rush. We didn’t even managed to have a decent breakfast.

kengkeng the boy

The boy doesn’t want to get up yet.

There will be a three-vehicle convoy on this trip. Our white Hyundai Eon, Cobilla family’s red Hyundai Eon, and Ayiee Abella’s orange Toyota Vios.

two cars wait outside

Two cars wait outside for the journey to be.

Route to Remember

The following lines are a slightly detailed account of our road to Tagaytay. I chronicled them for reference if ever we go back.

We left Pines Village at 6:30 am. Traversing Sumulong Highway, we made a left at Katipunan Extension near a solemn Kia Metroeast Showroom, then made a right at Mount Vernon St., and made a left at the major road Mayor Gil Fernando Ave.

Straight from Mayor Gil Fernando, we made a right to Marcos Highway a.k.a. Marilaque Highway (Marilaque stands for Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon; I wonder how Laguna got in there).

From Marcos Highway we made our route to Pres. Diosdado Macapagal Bridge merging FVR Road. We then made a right to Eulogio Rodriguez Jr. Ave. merging C5 Road.

From hereon we traveled C5 Road straight to AH26 (Eulogio Rodriguez Jr. Ave. to Carlos P. Garcia Ave.) South Luzon Expressway Toll Road (a.k.a. Osmeña Sr. Highway). We kept going straight along SLEX then turned right to Mamplasan exit toll gate in Biñan, Calabarzon.

Mamplasan exit

Photo of Mamplasan exit from rapidstreetview.com; Map of Mamplasan exit from Google map. Photo is not the exact appearance as of this writing.

Upon leaving Mamplasan exit tollgate we made a right on Greenfield Parkway. After cruising straight Greenfield Parkway, we made a right turn to Sta. Rosa, Tagaytay Road, again just traveling a straight path.

We made a short stop over at a Petron, Dunkin Donuts station for some snacks and toilet.

Petron, Dunkin Donut

Photo of Petron station from rapidstreetview.com; Map of Petron station from Google map (please note error on location of pin on the map). Photo is not the exact appearance as of this writing.

We continued our route straight along Sta. Rosa, Tagaytay Road till we reached Tagaytay, Calamba Road by making a right.

Right turn from tagaytay road

Photo of our right turn to Tagaytay Road from rapidstreetview.com; Map of right turn from Google map. Photo is not the exact appearance (and not the right lane) as of this writing.

Straight up Tagaytay-Calamba Road, we came upon a roundabout and entered Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway from there.

Tagaytay roundabout

Photo of roundabout from rapidstreetview.com; Map of roundabout from Google map. Photo is not the exact appearance as of this writing.

Crowded Church

We made our very first major stop at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. There are a lot of people today because tomorrow Monday is holiday (Eid al-Adha, Proclamation No. 56) and the parking lot was jam-packed to say the least. We couldn’t find a parking spot so a security guard just instructed us to position behind one nicely parked sedan. In this spot our car was actually blocking the sedan so it won’t be able get out of parking as long as we were behind it. I volunteered to be left behind while the rest of the family went inside the church, just in case the owner of the sedan comes and decides to leave the premises.

Snow White tough park

Snow White is having a bad parking time.

I had a short chitchat with a security that handled the parking. The number of people that came this Sunday awed him. A fellow colleague of his, a janitor was also overwhelmed. The janitor is from Cogeo, Antipolo. For work reasons, he stays with his brother here in Tagaytay and goes home to Cogeo on good days. He sometimes assists during church parades of Mother Mary.

The previous church mass ended after a few minutes, and I soon found myself parking our car in a suitable corner.

The front of the church, though crowded with people, is indeed stunning. Seemed like it was prepared for this day.

Front of Our Lady of Parish church

Front of Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

They even prepared a standee of Pope Francis.

Standee of Pope Francis

Standee of Pope Francis.

The parish also has quite an astounding interior.

Inside Our Lady of Parish church

Inside the church.

Skyranch Lunch and Bunch

After our church mass, we headed for Skyranch. There was no available parking inside the Skyranch common area so we were directed outside to a large parking area extension that was empty.

Skyranch parking lot

Photo of parking lot from rapidstreetview.com; Photo is not the exact appearance as of this writing.

We decided to have lunch first before entering Skyranch. I took the liberty of taking a few shots while we were searching for a restaurant.

Skyranch directory map

Skyranch directory map.

Skyranch discount rates

Discount rates. Talk about hard sell.

At last the family decided to test Leslie’s Restaurant.

Leslie's entrance

Entrance of Leslie’s Restaurant.

Leslie’s, quite regrettably, had nothing much to offer with regards to menu. While the food was typical, it’s not really that bad, but it’s not that good either. It’s just enough to satisfy my stomach and say I “might” come here again. The price? Well, it’s almost near the sky.

Leslie's balcony

A view of Skyranch rides from the balcony of Leslie’s Restaurant.

Our reserved table

Our reserved table.

Bulalo

Bulalo.

Sisig

Sisig.

The high blood bilao

I call it the “highblood bilao” with those stuffed squid, shrimps, and mussels.

Soup

Soup.

After our foodcapade, entering Skyranch was our next quest and it was a tough one as you can see from the long line of people in the admission area.

Admission area

Admission area. Look at all those cash. ☺

As soon as we got inside, we were in for some disappointment. It’s Marietta and Marissa’s birthday and there was supposed to be a promo where birthday celebrants can have a free ride-all-you-can pass for a minimum purchase. What we didn’t know was that, the minimum purchase was actually ₱1,000. Senior citizens didn’t even have ride discounts. Everything became uneventful after that, but not all was lost. The kids had fun riding the ₱80/person Kiddie Train ride.

Riding the Kiddie Train

Riding the Kiddie Train.

Mother and son

Mother and son.

Cousin's Raymarc and Botchok

Cousin’s Raymarc and Botchok.

Wish I was riding that train.

As I wrote this blog, I realized we should have tried looking for discounted ride-all-you-can passes from Metrodeal. Maybe we’ll do that the next time we have this idea again.

We then spent the next few hours eating and viewing people enjoying the rides. It was fun watching them shout their hearts out in some of the intense rides, like the Pirate Ship ride.

Cottage break

Having a break in one of the cottages.

Pirate Ship

Pirate Ship ride.

As the day wore off, we concluded it by doing a few site seeing and souvenir and goods hunting.

Near the zipline

A view near the zipline.

Taal volcano

Dormant Taal volcano.

Human statue

Human statue. Endurance level = expert.

Souvenir items

Souvenir items. Look at all those Chinese lucky charms. No wonder Henry Sy is so rich. ☺

Pasalubong items

Pasalubong items. It’s really mostly foody goody items.

The Long And Hard Return

We got back in the parking lot at 5:00 pm. It was empty during the mid noon when we first got there but now it’s chockfull. Made me think what time these travelers were planning to go home. Fortunately tomorrow’s a holiday.

Unfortunately, the traffic along the way was intense. What took us a few hours travel early morning seemed like forever that afternoon. Actually, one gas bar would turn out two gas bars in the afternoon. That’s four liters in the morning and eight liters on the way back.

On our way to an exit tollgate to SLEX, we made a peculiar turn shown in the picture below. From what I observed, our turns from leaving and entering to SLEX would look like a number eight.

Exit to SLEX

Our exit to SLEX from Google map.

From Alabang, I made a mistake of exiting through Sucat tollgate so we routed Service Road to C5 in order to get to McDonald’s Sports Complex, which was our destination for dinner. We got to McDonald’s past 10:00 pm. I heartily ate a chicken ala king meal which subtly reminded me of the AlDub phenomenon.

It was a peaceful trip home after McDonald’s and we stepped back in the house at 11pm. The gas bar indeed registered two bar decrease as compared to a single bar from the early morning trip. But enough of gas consumption worries for now. It sure is good to be back home, kiss the day goodbye, and lay down our heads on a pillow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Buying a Brand New Car Is All Emotions

So here I was, a few weeks back, excited because my wife and I were discussing about buying a brand new car.

We were actually trying to pick something from a wide range of different brands, primarily Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and Hyundai, with a little mention of Toyota and Kia. It was all fun talking about the car. The possibilities of saving from everyday commute, of using it for deliveries, road trips, etc. It was all swell, until we thought of its price, and the monthly payment terms.

At first, my wife tried to convince me that the Suzuki APV, a budget van, is a good buy since our family is somewhat big. But something caught my curious mind while looking at its specifications. The fuel economy is 11–14 kms/l, which means I will be spending more for traveling less. Of course there are variables here like the type of driver and traffic conditions, and this spec is quite good for a van.

But I thought of buying a car based on fuel economy, positive reviews, and price, the reason being that the car will be used extensively for daily travel, and the Suzuki APV doesn’t top the list when it comes to fuel economy. The seating capacity was a sacrifice we had to make.

The Most Economic of Them All

Rummaging through a series of vehicle types, we noticed that the most fuel economic vehicles usually were subcompact hatchbacks (see https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/topten.jsp).

My wife’s brother-in-law bought a Hyundai Eon back in 2014. My wife’s niece bought a Toyota Wigo back also in 2014. These cars were small and were considered economical.

So we decided to buy a subcompact hatchback for fuel economy and, more particularly, pricing.

After looking through a group of subcompacts from different manufacturers, we came down to four, with one removed from the list.

Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mitsubishi Mirage (GLX M/T) was our first choice (http://mmpc.ph/model/mirage/). Considering the type of engine (Euro 4 Compliant 1.2L In-Line 3 DOHC 12-valve Gasoline Engine with MIVEC [3A92]), we thought of it as a perfect hatchback that could accommodate 5 people (1.665 meter width). But when it came to pricing and the monthly plan, I doubted as to whether we could afford it. At ₱553,000.00, it is expensive in its class due mainly to its great specs. Calculating the monthly plan, we would have ended up with a downpayment of ₱62,622.00 and monthly amortization of ₱9,548.00 for 5 years (http://www.bpiautoloans.com/pages?page=1st-car-plan). And that’s just for the 2013 model.

Toyota Wigo

We now looked at the Toyota Wigo, second or perhaps third when it came to pricing. The Wigo 1.0 G MT is the cheapest in its variants priced at ₱526,000.00 (http://www.toyotapricelist.com/). What is surprising is that, the Wigo is more expensive with the 5-year plan (http://www.toyotapricelist.com/promo). They priced it at ₱80,000 downpayment and ₱10,550/month in 5 years, which is a letdown. As for the specs, it has a 1.0 G In-line 3 Cylinder, 12 Valve, DOHC engine, 1.600 meters in width and claims to have a 5-person capacity (http://www.toyota.com.ph/choose-toyota-wigo.php). Not a bad spec really, but the pricing is worse than the Mirage.

Kia Picanto

The Kia Picanto was not originally in the list. During one time though, my wife went to the mall, saw a Kia booth, and asked for their hatchback models and she was given a very, very reasonable price of ₱18,000 downpayment. That was very, very cheap. The letdown? I can’t find any explicit specifications of the car on the Internet. They say that the width is 1.595 meters (http://www.kia.com/ph/showroom/picanto/specification.html) with a 1.2 MPI engine (http://www.kia.com/ph/showroom/picanto/features.html). The website though had a disclaimer at the bottom that says “All information and illustrations are based on data available at the time of publication and subject to change without notice” which made me think if the specs they were mentioning are still relevant at the time.

For the price? It’s not on their website, or perhaps I can’t find it. But I decided to check it out in autodeal.com.ph. It’s ₱575,000.00, which turns out to be the most expensive of them all (https://www.autodeal.com.ph/cars/kia/picanto/1-0-ex-mt). I wouldn’t want to know the monthly amortization after that information. So the Picanto was out of the list just like that.

Hyundai Eon

The Hyundai Eon was the first car that I saw that seemed to have hit me. It’s like I fell in love with the style the first time I saw it, and to think that I saw the 2014 model owned by our brother-in-law.

Most of its reviews were quite positive. Well, the reviews were mostly from owners, which I think were also in love with their Eons. But hey, if they love their car so much there must be something about the Eon.

So here it is (http://www.hyundai.ph/Showroom/EON), the Eon, the cheapest of them all at ₱508,000.00. The offer we saw was ₱8,000.00 downpayment and ₱10,192.00 in the autodeal website. But there’s a catch to that. The specs? I could only say, it will do. With a 0.8, 3 Cylinder In-line engine, it’s the least of them all. The width is 1.550 meters, which makes 5 seating a tight experience. The style? Like I said, it is lovely.

Our Verdict

We decided to go with Eon. Why? Well, because it is inexpensive. Brother-in-law owns one so we could ask him about any trouble we might have. The reviews were good. And the style, ever so lovely in my holistic opinion.

The catch in buying it though was that, instead of ₱8,000.00 for initial downpayment, we ended up with ₱65,000.00 and ₱8,892.00/month for 5 years. It’s still cheap though considering the amortization so we had a go for it.

Now if your wondering where the initial topic of fuel economy went to, here is the car comparison website featuring Toyota Wigo 1.0 G MT, Mitsubishi Mirage GLX 1.2 MT, and Hyundai Eon 0.8 GLX MT (see https://www.autodeal.com.ph/cars/compare/toyota+wigo+1-0-g-mt+vs+mitsubishi+mirage+glx-1-2-mt+vs+hyundai+eon+0-8-glx-mt). Scroll down to Economy & Environment. You will notice that Mitsubishi Mirage wins by a few points for liters per kilometer. In fact, Mitsubishi Mirage wins by a great stretch in specs. But it’s a car that we can’t afford for now.

Generally, buying a brand new car is all emotions. The excitement is peaked, thoughts of all the great things to do rush to our heads. But let’s not forget to include logic in the equation. We should buy a car not because we want it but because we need it.

But did my wife and I made the right decision? Did we buy the Hyundai Eon just because we loved its style, or were we right with its economy even if it has such low specs?

You might have a different opinion, and even if we already bought an Eon, your idea really matters. Please do post in the comments.