Thursday, May 31, 2012

If You Still Have an Unclaimed Cleverbuy Voucher, Read This!

This post's contents and comments have become so long and hard to read. I'm closing off comments for this post. You can find the newer updates about Cleverbuy (esp about the NBI meeting last June 8) here:

Latest Updates About Cleverbuy / CleverTravel


*****

I am pissed off right now. If you have an unclaimed voucher from Cleverbuy or CleverTravel, then you should be too. Why?

Cleverbuy is now closed!

I received a comment at my previous Cleverbuy post last May 18, detailing the company's very poor customer service. I got worried because I also have an unclaimed travel voucher that I bought from Cleverbuy, but I didn't panic since I had encountered problems with vouchers bought from other sites before (so I was sort of a veteran) and I was planning to use my voucher at the latter half of this year (I thought the problem would go away once the busy summer season ended).

Cleverbuy CleverTravel scam

A few days afterwards, I got links from Promoblogger and Everything in Budget and learned that after lying to several customers about booking their flights and accommodations, J2 Discount Travel and Tours had shut down and that Cleverbuy would be handling the refunds for the botched travel deals. J2 Travel and Cleverbuy occupied the same building and many people believed that they were sister companies.

  • Cleverbuy's office: Unit B 4F Marvin Plaza Bldg. 2153 Don Chino Roces Ave., Brgy. Pio Del Pilar, Makati City 1230
  • J2 Travel's office: 7F Marvin Plaza Bldg. 2153 Chino Roces Avenue, Brgy. Pio Del Pilar, Makati City

Cleverbuy apparently issued an official statement and denied any ties with J2, but that link (as well as the whole Cleverbuy blogspot blog) has been deleted. I hope someone was able to screen capture that statement. It might prove valuable in court.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mexicali Restaurant @ Trinoma Mall

I love Mexicali, so even if our experience in their SM San Lazaro branch was not very pleasant, I couldn't stay away for long.

I was badly craving for a burrito that day. We were in Trinoma and I thought we had to go to SM North The Block just to get some Mexicali love but when we checked the mall directory, we were delighted to know that there was already a Mexicali branch in Trinoma.

Finding the resto was a bit of a challenge for us since it was small and nestled in the cinema section. We hadn't watched any movie in Trinoma yet so we weren't familiar with that area and didn't know there were restaurants located there.

Taste

We ordered Grilled Steak Burrito (Regular Size), Ground Beef Burrito (California Size), Sopa de Lima (Mexican Lime Soup) Bowl, Chili Dog, and Chili Cup.

I have tried their different burritos but I keep coming back to Ground Beef Burrito. That and Cheese Enchilada are my favorite Mexicali food. Mexicali's burritos come in three sizes: Junior, Regular, and California. I usually order the regular sized burrito (which I found in the past to be more than enough to satisfy me) but that day, I was famished and overwhelmed with craving so I decided to try the California one (patay gutom mode).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Meet Manila's Tertulia Night for #ThoughtfulTourism at Adarna Food and Culture Restaurant

I remember when I was a kid, people back then mostly relied on TV and friends for information about tourist destinations. Nowadays, thanks to the Internet and social media, one can readily access a wealth of information about our local destinations. There are tons of awe-inspiring images of these places thanks to photographers and travel bloggers, and it's not just about Mount Mayon, Chocolate Hills, Banawe Rice Terraces or other "household names" anymore. You can go as near or as far as you want within the country and still find an amazing place. It is very encouraging that nowadays, our enthusiasm for our country's attractions is very much heartfelt. It's as if every travel photograph has a caption saying "This is paradise" and the seen/unseen photographer screaming "Ang ganda rito!!!" Pinoy pride indeed.

Meet Manila Launch Party: A Tertulia Night for #ThoughtfulTourism
pic from Meet Manila FB page
Local tourism is certainly a cause I can get behind. So when I was invited to the launch party of Meet Manila, I was happy. Meet Manila is a new and comprehensive Philippine travel portal which aims to promote our provinces and top tourist destinations as well as the very catchy mindset called #ThoughtfulTourism. #ThoughtfulTourism is not just tourism for the sake of attracting tourists but also involves educating and helping people to uplift small communities, conserve and ethically use our wildlife and natural resources, and promote far-flung provinces.

The event gathered together online travel groups and companies, bloggers, government officials, and other groups and individuals passionate about Philippine tourism. The party's theme was Tertulia Night - a social gathering that focuses on art and literature and that has evolved from being a regularly scheduled public event in the Spanish tradition to a celebration through poetry, song, arts, and dances. Optional but recommended attire was modern Filipiniana.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ala Eh! Bulalo (Muñoz) and the Tiny Cockroach

Ala Eh! Bulalo in Munoz, Quezon City is a fastfood restaurant that serves Filipino food. It is located at the foot of the overpass near Waltermart North EDSA.

Taste

We ordered their good-for-two combo which consisted of Pork Sisig, Bulalo, Pancit Lucban, rice, drinks, and dessert. Being a fastfood joint, the food wasn't as tasty as the ones in more expensive restos but was good enough to satisfy our craving for sisig and bulalo that day. The food was hot and quick to arrive.

Ala Eh! Bulalo sisig
pork sisig
Ala Eh! Bulalo bulalo soup
bulalo
Ala Eh! Bulalo Pancit Lucban Habhab
pancit Lucban
Ala Eh! Bulalo leche flan
leche flan

In our second visit, they ran out of pork sisig so I ordered Beef Steak Sisig instead. Bf ordered Bulalo GLP. I was contented with my sisig but bf did not like his bulalo GLP. According to him, the tripe (tuwalya) included in the soup was very tough and probably not so fresh.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gold's Gym Waltermart North EDSA

To shed a few pounds, I thought of going to the gym. I was not looking for a long-term commitment to a gym though, so when Gold's Gym had a promo through Metrodeal, I thought, Perfect! Just what I was looking for.

Their trial membership included 10 visits, consumable within two months, and access to all their facilities and classes.

Gold's Gym Waltermart North EDSA Munoz

We chose their Waltermart North EDSA branch since that was the most convenient for us. On our first day, we were briefed by a personable young man named Orly Natividad. Before we began exercising, he asked us if he could discuss membership first. We got a bit worried that it would lead to us being pressured to become members. To prevent that, I took the initiative and told him "Okay, as long as you won't pressure us into signing up." He didn't. He just explained the different annual rates for their branch.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

English Proficiency Workshop at Speech Coach (JC Santos Speech Training Center)

I have decent enough English writing skills but I am not comfortable with speaking in English at length. I know many Filipinos can relate to this. We've been taught English since we were toddlers. We watch a lot of Hollywood movies and American TV shows. We read a lot of English books and magazines. We use written English a lot in our work/business and we type a lot of our thoughts in English to converse with people online, BUT we only speak in English when it is required. Try speaking in straight English out of the blue and chances are, other people will find it amusing or maarte. Double that if you speak with an accent. Triple that if you have no mestizo features at all.

When I chanced upon the Speech Coach ad for a 1-day intensive English fluency and self-confidence workshop, I told bf that we should check it out. He was skeptical; he wasn't sold with the idea that a life-long awkwardness with English speaking would be solved in just 8 hours of work. We went anyway.

Speech Coach, The JC Santos Training Center

Speech Coach has two branches, both in Marikina: one in C&B Mall and one across Santolan LRT-2 station. We chose the Santolan branch since going there was more convenient for us (via LRT-1 and 2). When we were already in the Santolan station, we couldn't see Speech Coach's sign so I called them up and we were told to cross the overpass and someone from their office would be waiting for us at the 7-11 store. True enough, a guy was waiting for us in front of 7-11 and he accompanied us to Speech Coach. Their office was just a few steps away but was not conspicuous when standing in the LRT station due to the way the road curved.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers Assemble 2012 movie poster Synopsis:
Loki teams up with an alien race in order to rule Earth. Traveling through a portal created by the Tesseract, a powerful energy source, he is able to control the minds of Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and physicist consultant Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård). S.H.I.E.L.D, headed by Nick Fury, forms a team of superheroes called The Avengers to stop Loki.


Main Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. - Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans - Steve Rogers / Captain America
Mark Ruffalo - Bruce Banner / The Hulk
Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner - Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston - Loki
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury


Trailer:



Review:
Finally got to see The Avengers last Saturday night. I'm a big Loki fan and the primary reason for me to see The Avengers was to see Loki again. The movie began showing here in the Philippines last April 25 but since I dislike big crowds and was expecting everyone and his mom to be lining up for this film, I went to the cinema more than a week after the movie's opening. I checked the film's schedule at the IMAX Theatre at SM City North EDSA before leaving the house and was aiming to see the film on either the 2:15pm or 5:10pm screening. Upon arrival, though, we learned that both screenings were already sold out, so we just waited for the 8:05pm screening.

The movie was fun and awesome! It was long (142 minutes) but you wouldn't notice the time because there were no dull scenes. There were lots of funny scenes and dialogues and the humiliating but highly hilarious confrontation between Loki and Hulk had the audience in stitches. There was a death scene but it was not prolonged and overly sentimental like in most films. And thank goodness Natalie Portman's character Jane wasn't here! I liked Pepper Potts and Tony Stark's love angle because it was believable since they had known each other for a long time; I dislike the idea of "pure and undying" love between characters that just met each other a few days ago.

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