Wentworth Miller’s Speech – Us and We

Wentworth Miller, best known for the TV series Prison Break, gave a speech about the reality of suicide.  People who attempt or even think of suicide are led to such a thing because of a lot of outside factors.  These factors vary from person to person.

“Let me send a message to that kid, maybe in America, maybe some place far overseas, maybe somewhere deep inside; a kid who’s being targeted at home or at school or in the streets; that someone is watching and listening and caring.” – Wentworth Miller

I have never attempted suicide but I have thought of it before.  I was lucky enough to have had a friend at the time who gave her time and friendship that led me away from my thoughts.

Please love each other.  No more harm.  No more hatred.  We are all human beings regardless of race, religion, and skin color.

 

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Losing Hope for My Country

I am one of the millions of Filipino OFW or Overseas Filipino Worker.

So what is an OFW? We are Filipino citizens living and working outside of the Philippines. Our remittances make up a bulk of the economy of the country. In short, one of the Philippines’ top commodity is selling her own citizens – it’s a legal form of Human Trafficking.

It is with utter regret to admit that I am losing hope for my country.

As an OFW with more than 10 years of experience abroad, my ultimate goal is to go back home and stay there with my family and friends for good. The progress made by the previous administration gave me hope to the point that I decided to be an absentee voter so that I can participate in the 2016 Presidential Elections and to help keep the momentum going.

Unfortunately, my candidate lost. Mar Roxas lost to the current president – Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte used the issue on drugs as his main campaign agenda. He never once talked about the economy of the country. I guess, he is relying on OFWs to keep on just sending remittances and to stay away from our families until we die in another country.

So now we are in 2017. More than a year into Duterte’s presidency. Where is the Philippines now?

Well, the Philippines is now nowhere. Instead of moving forward everything is either on a stand still or going backward. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I am hoping it remains on the stand still but looks like the movement that the president wants is to go back to the stone age.

What has Duterte’s presidency done so far? Honestly, it made the Philippines look like a country of drug addicts and nothing more. My Indian colleagues come to me and ask me “Do all Filipinos take drugs?” Wow!!!

So congratulations to President Duterte for making me look like a drug addict in front of my non-Filipino colleagues. Good job Mr. President!!!

The goal of the previous administration was to improve the economy in order to also improve the lives of ALL Filipinos – most especially the poor. Don’t get me wrong, the previous administration was not perfect. It is controlled by a political party of your usual type of politicians – corrupt, fat, and evil – but that administration made strides in terms of improving the economy and to bring the Philippine Peso back to respectable levels.

All that progress is gone now. The peso is now back at the P50 to US$1 range. And instead of helping to provide more jobs to the citizens this same government has just taken the livelihood of thousands of Filipinos by suspending Uber. This includes my brother whose main source of income WAS his Uber business.

Instead of helping the country, this administration’s main objective is to put “friends” in government positions regardless of their lack of qualifications. Okay, this may not be a fact but this is my opinion based on what I see.

Imagine, putting lawyers to head the transportation department of the country. What do lawyers know about improving the transport situation of a country? I believe engineers should be handling this department.

Check out the list of cabinet members here. Tell me what is common in their background?

I just hope the country can last the next five years of this administration. More over, I hope President Duterte can prove me wrong. I hope my cousins from Davao can prove me wrong. I hope I am wrong!!!

Red Eye Smokehouse – Singapore

Growing up in a family back in the Philippines who do not really eat the traditional Filipino meals on a daily basis made me appreciate the finest things in life.  The best example of that is of course food.

My mom’s cooking is amazing.  Her expertise are not the usual Kare-Kare or Adobo you would hear in a typical Pinoy household.  Her meals are more on the steaks, ribs and everything else oh so fattening.

This is a very big trouble for someone who is battling obesity.  Having a mom that can cook great meals is a double edge sword.

Because I grew up in a house having steaks rather than chicken adobo, it is but natural for me to search for steakhouses or BBQ places here in Singapore.

I have the tried and often go back to the more commercialized Aston’s Specialties.  Don’t get me wrong, I like their food.  It does what it is supposed to do which is to solve your craving for gorgeous beef.

One day while surfing Flipboard I managed to chance upon a flip that caught my attention.  They featured a new restaurant in Singapore.

Below is a screenshot of that post.

Red Eye Steakhouse - Photo by ieatishootipost

Red Eye Smokehouse – Photo by ieatishootipost

The restaurant is called Red Eye Smokehouse and they are located near the Lavender MRT and beside the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Red Eye Smokehouse
1 Cavan Road
Singapore 209842

I got the chance to visit this restaurant when I invited a friend of mine who recently celebrated her birthday a couple of days ago.  I owed her a good dinner because the previous ones we have been to sucked.  This one had to save my a$$ or else she might not want to go to dinner with me again.  I, like always, did choose the previous places we went to which means all of the bad experience we had for dinner was on me.

The restaurant is very near the opening of Cavan Road and ambiance is very simple, rugged and yet relaxing.  The staff were very friendly and accommodating especially for first timers like myself and my friend.

Their menu is written on black chalkboard at the back of the counter.  To make our lives easier the staff encouraged us to check their meat which is displayed beside the counter.  This was a big help because we had hesitations on what to order by simply looking at the menu.

My friend and I chose some variety of the meat they offer.  At the time we went there they had:

  • Beef Briskets
  • Chopped Pork
  • Pork Knuckles
  • Pork Ribs
  • Angus Beef Sausage
  • Lamb Sausage

They sold sides such as coleslaw, mashed potato, and beans.

My friend and I settled for the Beef Briskets (which I read was a must have for this place), Chopped Pork, Angus Beef Sausage and Lamb Sausage.  For our side we ordered two mashed potato (had to not share because I was having a cold).  For our drinks we ordered two glasses of their draft beer.

Our meal from Red Eye Smokehouse - Photo by ah_hulk (IG)

Our meal from Red Eye Smokehouse – Photo by ah_hulk (IG)

The beer was nothing special.  Actually it tasted different and left an aftertaste as per my friend.  Basically you can get other better beers in other places.

They gave us two biscuits.  I was expecting too much for these little things and so it majorly disappointed.  It tasted like air – as in nothing.

Now we’re getting to the good part of this makeshift review.  The sides!  The mashed potatoes are heavenly and so fluffy.  It alone is enough for a meal.  I recommend the mashed potato from this place anytime.

In terms of the sausages, the Lamb Sausage tasted better but both were good.

The chopped pork tasted awesome also but was not an overwhelming wow from my friend and I.

The beef brisket on the hand was superb and is definitely a must order.  The meat was so tender it breaks off at a touch of your fork or knife without much pressure.  The meat alone is enough, no need for sauces.

If you are the sauce type of a person, the restaurant offers two sauces – Chipotle and Sweet & Tangy.  On the outside both sauces look, smell and taste the same.  The difference is what you feel inside your body.  The Chipotle had a spicier feel to eat after consumption.  Again, for me, if you ordered the beef brisket, these sauces are optional.  For the other meats these would greatly improve your experience at the restaurant.

The serving size we got was not big but was adequate for two people.  I believe you can order more because their menu is based on the weight of your order.  The mashed potato filled us up very quickly.  It was wrong to order two of them but because of my cold we had no choice.

Overall our meal cost us S$94 which at first glance for the serving is a bit pricey but all I can say is it was worth it.  You got the great tasting beef brisket with the super mashed potato and you match that with the friendly staff – you got a winning formula.

Plus, my friend finally said that the food we had for dinner was amazing.  So thanks Red Eye Smokehouse for making me look good!

Would I go back?  Yes!

Just have to wait for my next craving for BBQ meat. 🙂

Iskina Cebu – Lechon in Singapore

I had this insatiable craving for lechon, or roasted pig.  Lechon is a Filipino dish that came from the Spanish influence in my country.  The pig’s innards are discarded and herbs and spices are placed inside the pig before the entire pig is roasted over an open flame.

I have been looking for a good lechon place here in Singapore and I think I found one that I’ll come back to one of these days.

The place is called Iskina Cebu.  The lechon is of the Cebu style of cooking lechon which is believed to be the best type of lechon in the Philippines.

Iskina Cebu is located at Paya Lebar right across the Paya Lebar MRT.  The exact address is:

Geylang East Industrial Estate, 1016 Geylang East Avenue 3 389731

Unfortunately, when I arrived there around 1pm, they have already ran out of their original Cebu lechon.  Only the spicy kind was left.  Since I didn’t want the day to be a waste I decided to try the spicy Cebu lechon.  It was S$10 worth.

Iskana Cebu Spicy Lechone Meal - S$10

Iskina Cebu Spicy Lechon Meal – S$10

I loved the taste of it.  In fact, I liked it more than the lechon I tasted from Zubuchon and CBT in Cebu.  The pig’s skin was crispy and so tasty.  The serving was also well worth the S$10 I gave for a meal in a hawker.

The only complaint I had was that the part of the pig I got was a bit too fatty.  After a few mins my plate was oily.  If you are watching your weight that is a big NO NO.  But I told myself, sometimes you just have to enjoy life and risk life at the same time – so what the heck I won’t eat it everyday anyway.

I highly recommend Iskina Cebu not only to my fellow countrymen but to Singaporeans and other expats in Singapore who love pork.  It’s cheaper than going back to the Philippines just to get a taste of lechon – one of the Pinoy delicacies that Anthony Bourdain loved.

Going Klean

The key to having a healthy life if you live in a hot and humid country like Singapore is to keep your self hydrated.  This is especially true for people like me who sweat a lot.  That is why it is important for me to find a good quality water bottle that I can bring along with me day in and day out.

I have been in the market for such a water bottle and sadly most have fell short of my expectations.  I generally base my expectations on some categories: quality, performance, maintenance, and, of course, looks.

I am happy to say that I think I have finally found the water bottle!  At least so far it is the water bottle for me.

Introducing the Klean Kanteen Insulated water bottle.  Note: Image from http://www.littleacornstomightyoaks.co.uk.

Klean Kanteen Insulated 20oz Stainless Steel Water Bottles

The one I purchased is the “Night Sky”.  It comes in different sizes and colors as you can see from the image above.  I got the 20oz (or almost 600ml) version because I wanted to have max water availability.

Quality

This water bottle is made from non-BPA stainless steel.  The construction of the bottle is solid, smooth, and sturdy to the touch.  Granted, I have only had my Klean Kanteen for a week and I have not managed to drop it yet but just by holding it you can feel that it was well built.  It also has a lifetime warranty but, according to the Klean Kanteen official website, will only apply if you purchased the water bottle from the official website.  That’s a little disappointing but the way I use i think this might last me a long time.

I just wanted to note that if you fill up the water bottle it will be heavy because of the double layer construction that allows for the insulation.

My fear with the bottle I got is the color might fade or chip away in the future.  In the company’s website they have explained that some of their products do have this defect and is covered by their warranty.  So far, no chipping of the paint.

Performance

For me performance is very important.  I always put cold beverages in my water bottles.  I am not usually an avid fan of hot drinks except for the occasional latte here and there.

Science will tell you that condensation can occur on the surface of an object if the temperature inside and outside are different.  That is what I have experienced with the other water bottles I have purchased before.

Before I bought this Klean Kanteen bottle I purchased a stainless steel one from All Deals Asia just because I was already fed up with the plastic water bottles.  It is similar to the Sigg water bottles.  Initially I thought “yeah this might work” and then when I put cold water inside the bottle there you go…condensation all over the bottle.

What does condensation mean to me?  Well, I bring my water bottle with me so I have in my bag.  If condensation happens then that will make everything it touches wet.  Because of the insulation that I mentioned earlier, this condensation does not happen with the Klean Kanteen.

The company has also published in their website that these insulated water bottles can keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks warm for 6 hours.  I have not really put this into a test especially for the hot drinks but so far what I have noticed with cold water and the bottle is that it does retain the cold temperature of the water longer than I have experienced with other water bottles.

Often I fill up my bottle in the morning around 9am before going to work.  I usually get to take my first sip from the bottle around 11am (that’s when my boss usually goes down to smoke so I can take a quick water break).  Normally my drink won’t be cold anymore with my old water bottles but with the insulated water bottle it does retain the coldness of the drink.

For those who might use the water bottle with hot drinks, be careful though.  Make sure you don’t seal that bottle when the drink is boiling hot.  The small piece of glossy paper that comes with the bottle says that you should let hot drinks cool down to a warm enough temperature that you can already drink before closing the bottle.  I guess if you don’t follow that instruction the pressure might build up inside and this is what you’ll probably get:

One thing I am not amused about the bottle though is the smell of metal.  Every time you take a sip you smell the metal.  Good thing though is that the metallic smell does not translate to a metallic taste for the beverage you are drinking.  The water doesn’t taste differently.

Maintenance

Clean-up is easy compared to other types of water bottles because of the wide mouth and the smooth design.  There are no nooks and crannies where water might be able to get stuck in which can cause mold growth on the bottle itself.  The lid, however, may have that problem but lids are easy to clean.

Other water bottles, especially those that follow the Sigg bottle design, have small mouths which are harder to clean with just a sponge.  You’ll need something smaller.

I also like the fact that the inside of the bottle doesn’t smell foul after washing.  It still smells like it did the first time I bought it.  Some water bottles I got smelled like a sock was left inside it after I cleaned it up.

The recommended method of cleaning a Klean Kanteen water bottle is sponge and soapy water.

Looks

To me simplicity is key.  It looks like the canister that held the mutagen that turned the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to mutants.  Simple design, nice color, that’s it.

I was actually thinking of purchasing the stainless steel one because of my fear that the paint might peel off but I am glad I chose the painted one.  It just looks nicer to me.

Although, I would like to see in the future designs like the ones in Sigg bottles.  Those artworks are great and cool looking.

Conclusion

As I said, I’ve had the bottle for only a week but to me that one week is enough to convince me that this might be worth the investment.  No real negative experience with the water bottle so far except for the smell of metal but what to do it is made of stainless steel.

Where to Buy in Singapore

I got mine from The Planet Traveller store at Changi Airport Terminal 3 here in Singapore for S$55.  The official distributor in Singapore for these water bottles is Kool Depot.  You can purchase the bottles from them but if you check the price I got my 20oz bottle from the airport for the price of a 16oz bottle from the Kool Depot website.

There are other distributors so just check the Klean Kanteen website.  I believe in the US they are selling the water bottles in combo packs – water bottle, default lid and coffee lid.  The coffee lid will allow you to drink from the bottle without removing the lid much like those coffee tumblers.

Fotodiox has Arrived

The FotodioX Adapter for Nikon G Lens to Sony NEX Mount I ordered from B&H has finally arrived a couple of days ago.  I have not really gotten a chance to use it the way I wanted to use it.

I have given it a little test drive of course just to check if the product is working.  The auto functions of the Nikon mount lenses really do disappear.  Everything is gone including aperture setting and auto focus.  You have to manually turn that blue ring to set the aperture and to manually focus the lens.

Here is my AF Nikkor 50mm 1.4D lens attached to the Sony A7 body using the adapter.

Below is a test shot using the lens and adapter with the Sony body.

The focus peaking feature of the camera helps with manual focusing especially since I am not good at doing that.  With the D90, I relied totally on auto focus.

I’ll be embarking on a small project soon so that I can at least try to master my new camera, its kit lens, and the adapter with my old lenses.

FotodioX Adapter for Nikon G Lens to Sony NEX Mount

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a Sony A7 camera from Cathay Photo but I unfortunately was not able to purchase an adapter from them.  They were selling a Metabones adapter at over S$500 which means it was out of my budget.

I really wanted to get an adapter so that I can use my Nikon lenses especially my 50mm.  I’ve been looking forward to doing another round of 50/50 wherein I will take photos for 50 days using my 50mm lens.  It’s a good way to hone your skills and to also feel comfortable with your camera.

I was looking around Singapore online stores for a good but not so expensive adapter but unfortunately did not find any.  I was, however, able to find one at B&H.  I chose the FotodioX Adapter for Nikon G Lens to Sony NEX Mount.  It sold for US$59.95 which is around S$75.  I used my VPost address in the US to ship it back to Singapore and based on the VPost website the shipping fee will be around S$20.

That means I managed to save around S$400 compared to the Metabones that Cathay Photo was selling.  I am not sure though if the FotodioX will be of the same quality as that of the Metabones.  Based on what I’ve read, the Metabones is one of the better brands that market these NEX adapters.

The adapter has not reached me yet but once it does I will surely give it a spin.  I will write another post about it and give my feedback on whether or not this was a good plan and if the amount saved (S$400) is actually something I can confirm as savings or a bad deal.  I should be getting the adapter by next week.  Until then I will just have to wait another weekend with just the kit lens.

UPDATE:

I forgot to mention that VPost has a promo for the Great Singapore Sale.  Using the voucher code GSS15 you will get 15% off your shipping.  Mine ended up as being S$17 instead of S$20.  This voucher code is only valid until tomorrow, 25 June 2014.