Friday, November 27, 2009

Justice for the Victims of Ampatuan Massacre

Just got a doze of news from the Philippines, few headlines made me furious. No, not the Manny Pacquiao-Krista Ranillo affair. But the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao due to political rivalry, victims are mostly women and journalists. Just how dirty politics in the Philippines are, people are willing to kill people just to be on top, as the alleged suspect behind the massacre is no other than the reigning Mayor of Ampatuan. The victims are supporters and family members of Vice Mayor of Buluan, Toto Mangudadatu, about to file his candidacy for a governatorial seat in the 2010 elections. Maguindanao, one of the province in ARMM (autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao), was known to be ruled by a political dynasty of Ampatuans. The reigning governor is Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr., a known ally of PGMA, grooming his son, to take over his seat in 2010. It disturbs me a lot to know it was planned long before the act, as graves were known ready made beforehand. Some victims are found raped, beheaded and some even tortured to death. Such heartless acts only monsters and demons could do, I pray for equal justice for the vitims, whoever the perpetrators are, time and destiny will condem your deeds and Karma will go next.

Arz Lebanon in Jumeirah

Been a week since I arrived here in Dubai, but still everything seems new. Thanks to newfound and old friends, I'm coping up. Haven't got much difficulty moving around, the place I'm staying in right now (Al Barsha) is peaceful and safe, taxis and buses are very accessible to our flat. And to start up, what could be better getting through into new place than trying out their cuisine? Dubai is the melting pot of Middle Eastern cuisines, as within the metro, restaurants keep popping out to cater the ever growing population of expats and locals. For the first restaurant review, Middle Eastern section, we went Lebanese: Arz Lebanon.

Arz Lebanon is a chain of restaurants within Dubai. While scouting for a flat along Jumeirah, we got a chance to dine there since I'm requesting them to have a local cuisine for lunch. The Jumeirah branch is a two-storey restaurant, with family rooms on the second floor where arabic music was played live. We opted to have seats outside the restaurant, enjoying the Jumeirah view and since its November, cool wind breeze even at midday can be felt in Dubai.
For a start, we're served with a complimentary appetizer of pickled olives and peppers. However, I'm not a fan of pickles eaten raw, I rather have them mixed with sauces or other dishes, so I left my piece untouched. Then came our order of mixed Arabian dips (45Aed), served with Arabian bread, on which I can only tag Hummus as one of them. I forgot to ask the waiter the names of each of the dips, but I like them, not as spicy as what I expect.

the pickled ones...

an Arab bread, looks filled up, but deceivingly airy inside.

the mixed platter of dips, goes well with the bread.
For the main course, as what you expect us to order, we had mixed Kebab (36AED), chicken biryani (32AED), and grilled fish fillet (48AED).

mixed platter of Kebabs
Chicken Biryani, my new rice favorite.

Grilled fish fillet with tartar sauce.

All in, our orders could feed a group of 4-5, but us 3 managed to finished them all since we haven't got breakfast that time. Service is good as they are attentive on to every customers. I rate them a 9 for an overall dining experience. Definitely worth of a second visit. :-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Emerald Garden Restaurant - not your Jewel in Manila

Back on my restaurant review. No matter how poor a review is, a publicity is still a publicity. As much as possible, I dont want to post a negative post, but B requested an item on this one. We had a not-so-pleasant dining experience in this particular restaurant.

Last Nov 13, we've decided to have our lunch in Emerald Garden Restaurant (along Roxas Blvd, Ermita, Manila), as I'm craving for Chinese cuisine then, and the place is near the ticketing office for my next week flight. Getting inside the establishment, the 80's era of a typical old Chinese restaurant of plain wall paint and aluminum chairs. Since we're not hefty diners, we've decided to minimize our orders to fried spare ribs, sweet & sour fish fillet and Yang chow fried rice. For the drinks we ordered iced tea.

Orders arrived after some time. The fried rice is nice, consisting of generous cuts of fried egg, veggies, chinese sausage and meat. We find the the fried spare ribs more salty, and the fish fillet more sweeter than the usual. We find the staff so unattentive of our needs, as B needs to wave and call them repeatedly for their attention for a glass of water they failed to provide in the first place. We got billed for the iced tea that was never served. We left the place unsatisfied and will never return again, we cant help thinking maybe the reason for these was that we are not their valuable client, as we observe some customers orders more than what we have, thus billed more of course. Some customers are observed in high end clothes compare to us in just plain casual shirts that might give them an idea we're not generous tippers, hence the "dedma" effect...But a customer is still a customer regardless of the bill...I give them thumbs down for poor customer service... :-(

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

God sent me an Angel again :-)

I'm in HK airport while working on this one, pardon the draft look. I've never been so thankful on Filipinos around the world helping each other especially abroad. I'm bound to Dubai in 30 minutes from now for another project. Its my first time in the Middle East, and still had no idea on everything (from accomodations, transportation, etc). A good-hearted former colleague offered their flat for sometime until I was able to find one for myself, plus she'll be fetching me at the airport. Talk about convenience. I'd be forever grateful for people like her, and will be glad helping her spread the compassion virus :-)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Indulgence 101 - Soothing Massage

Am so excited over the coming weekend. A college friend just came back from work abroad, and as practiced, get together was set for a day of catching up on each other's lives. This time, we'll be having another eating-out session but I encouraged them to try also one of my indulgence and will be forever part of my life routine ever since Day 1 I've discovered it - a trip to the spa.
I'm a self-confessed nerve-wrecked every after project. Perhaps it comes up with age, as I don't get used on constant pressures and stress as I used to be. Getting through a week or two of sleepless night projects, I see to it I get my well deserve reward for a work done. I de-stress myself on a soothing massage. Its my 1-hour escape from the busy world. Just how addicting holistic massage can be more ever when you discover not just how good it feels afterwards but also its health benefits.

(Taken from Libratherapeutics)

Regular massage can, in the long-term:
1. Improve nerve communication and relax the nervous system to alleviate anxiety
2. Improve muscle suppleness
3. Improve circulation
4. Boost the immune system
5. Lower high blood pressure
6. Assist the digestive system to operate in a more efficient manner
7. Improve skin elasticity
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are other physiological effects of massage, for example:
1. Massage can help to improve skin tone and colour
2. Massage can reduce localised swelling by encouraging better lymph drainage
3. Relieve muscle fatigue caused by exercise or heavy physical work
4. Improve articulation of stiff joints
5. Promote general relaxation
6. Encourage sleep, helps insomnia
There are also psychological effects of massage. Massage is a wonderful antidote to stress. Stress is of course well known for its dangers, but even in its mildest forms can have a draining effect.

During the course of the massage the effects of stress can be alleviated in a number of ways:
1. Massage releases endorphins - natural painkilling and uplifting hormones
2. It stimulates the part of the nervous system that slows the body down, encourages deeper more relaxed breathing, slower heart beat and restart sluggish digestion
3. It stimulates the immune system which can be weakened by constant stress
4. It can help address depression and low self-esteem by producing a feeling of well-being and hence improved self-worth
5. It stimulates the body’s natural repair work at the lowest (cellular) level

Muscle tension
Massage can relieve many types of muscle tension. Without realising, many of us habitually clench our teeth or sit hunched leading to tense muscles. The appropriate massage technique works to release tension by working directly on the muscles, whilst other techniques work indirectly by affecting the nervous system to allow the muscles to relax.

Muscle fatigue
Vigorous exercise or sustained physical work both create a build up of waste toxins in your muscles which leave you feeling tired and sore. Massage increases circulation, removing the waste and bringing in healing nutrients.
Massage can help the healing process in injuries such as tendonitis, as well as ligament sprains or muscle strains. Massage reduces inflammation through increased circulation to the affected area, removing waste products and brings nutrients to injured cells. Certain massage techniques can limit the formation of scar tissue in new injuries and can help to increase flexibility in scar tissue from older injuries.
It goes without saying that you should only consult an appropriately qualified practitioner.

If you are suffering from high blood pressure but are not presently taking medicine for it, consult with your physician before attempting medical massage therapy, due to the fact that massages work to raise the blood flow--which could potentially result in severe problems, such as the distension of the blood vessel walls and severe bleeding in the case of an accident.

As for me, on every after a massage, I feel light and refreshed, or should I say my perspectives are back on the normal good view point. So why not reward thyself of a soothing moment after a hard day's work. Trip to the spa doesn't always costs you much nowadays, I frequent a salon near our home that offers a massage for just Php300, but the services are fine for me. Try to find one that suits your budget, and I bet you will never be the same old negative ion again.