Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chinese New Year

I have been busy and did not celebrate Chinese New Year. Somehow I thought in the middle of sending out greetings that this picture was appropriate. She is baby Yok Shan - Google the story if you don't remember or have not heard..



Friday, February 12, 2010

The Battle of the Brains - ACM ICPC

We sponsored the Philippine's team into ACM International Collegiate Programming Competition held this year in Harbin China. Otherwise known as 'The Battle of the Brains', this is the top programming competition for students in the world. The high school equivalent is called the International Olympiad in Informatics. The people in these competition are real problem solvers - they can solve really really tough programming problems. These are the people without which even good ideas do not turn into reality. These are the people that top tech companies from hot startups to Apple, Microsoft and Google like to hire and give stock options. These are the guys in the mold of Paul Allen of Microsoft and Steve Wozniak of Apple.

The Philippine team came in at among a group placed at 36 which actually don't sound impressive until you realise they only solved one less programming problem than teams from Stanford, MIT, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon. They beat the likes of National University of Singapore, Texas Austin, University of Illionois-Urbana, Australian Champions among others.

I thought they did pretty well and proves there are plenty of talent here in this country...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


One of the things I have enjoyed since I got here is the weather. From Nov-January its very cool like in Hawaii so I called it the Hawaii period. Pinoys call it the 'Ber' months but it really last through January. There is not much rain, not humid unlike in Singapore, KL and Jakarta so being outdoors is just fantastic.

Its February now and you can start to feel the weather getting hot. Its still cool late at night but the morning heats up quickly and you can feel hot air in day especially the late afternoon. The weather is like.. Chinese New Year in Malaysia and Singapore.

In Malaysia and Singapore, for some reason, it can rain like cats & dogs for days leading up to Chinese New Year and even after, but on Chinese New Year day and a few days after, you can almost guarantee that it will not rain and will be hot. In all my life, albeit I have only spend less than half of it in Malaysia and Singapore, I can only recall 1 year that it rained on Chinese New Year day. I have paid attention to this fact since I was a small boy because when my parents first said it to me as a young boy, the highly western educated greenhorn that I was called my parents superstitious and ignorant. My father even bet me. So I paid attention and as you grow up and learn the wisdom of your parents, these facts sort of stays with you how wrong you are. Even a couple of years ago when people started talking of climate change and it was raining like crazy, the rain stopped on Chinese New Year day.

Anyway, the weather is changing to like that. Not surprising given Chinese New Year is around the corners.

I miss the Hawaiian weather. But its time to take out the swimming trunks and Barbecue..

Monday, February 1, 2010

Teriyaki Boy's Ramen

Last weekend, after a long day of conference, events and catching up on errands I was in the mood for Japanese but did not want to drive all the way to Little Tokyo in Makati where you get great Japanese food for really really low prices. So I headed over to Teriyaki Boy - its a mid-price Japanese chain here not one of the many cheap fast food joints you find around.

I really had low expectation and my initial idea was to order a bento box and be done with as I still had a lot to do. Unfortunately they had run out of the bento box I wanted so I settled on a bowl of Ramen and some fried Tofu. I was pleasantly surprised by the Ramen, not because it tasted like good Japanese Ramen but because it tasted like Hong Kong's wantan noodle - it was springy, thin, and tasty.

011 | late night gyoza ramen for the brokenhearted

Wantan soup noodles @ Mak’s Noodles

My only complain, the bowl of Ramen cost almost as much as the bowl of wanton noodle in HONG KONG!!

Hunan Restaurant - TopSpice

Most Pinoy will eat some spicy food but unlike most South East Asian, they don't love it. Lets admit it, some of us even fall ill if we go for a long time without chilli. I have a good friend here who worked in Bangkok for a number of years and also lived in Singapore and his appetite for spicy is comparable to most of us. So he is on the hunt for spicy food in this town like I am.

Last Friday, he took me to an authentic Hunan restaurant. Its officially called Top Spice but many known it as Hunan Lutong Bahay. It is so reminiscent of those small family restaurants of new-villages in Old Klang Road, Jinjang, Chan Sow Lin in Malaysia or in small alleys and Hutongs in China cities. Bare furniture, no painting or decor, plates, bowls and cups are basic. There is not even a sign ourside that says its a restaurant. The menu is actually written in Chinese and the owner actually speak in Chinese only. You order from the Pinoy waitress using pictures..

The food was incredibly authentic. Spicy, oily, fragrant, hot, steaming, smoky. You know what I mean - Mapo Tofu, Spicy Beef, Smoked Duck.

The funny thing about this place is I had expected the place to be filled with Chinamen but there was only a couple when I ate here. The rest were ALL pinoys. So maybe there are more than a few Pinoys who like spicy food and there is hope yet..