Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yearender 2012: Breaking Free

This is the 12th year eversince my yearender chronicles started. Every year, I find that there is always an overriding theme for the year that is about to pass.

I deliberately skipped 2011 Yearender. It was so devoid of any great, memorable event that I can remember and I realized that the year just passed by like a blur, mostly highlighted by useless tears. When 2012 heralded itself, I promised to take back control and not allow myself to live another life like that ever.

This was evident in my February 2012 blog "Something Has Changed”  I’d like to think that whatever negative stronghold that eclipsed my soul in 2011, was suddenly lifted and I was able to break free in 2012!  One of those defining moments in ones' life.

Masterplan. I also started renewing my 2012 To Do List and I realized that I am now ending the year striking off almost each and every one of them! I am ready for my next list!

Run for Your Life. I finally found the guts to move my ass and actually give running a try! I completed three running events (P&G Olympic Day, Shape Run and 100 Plus Passion Run) and one walkathon (POSB Family Walk) in 2012. I am now preparing for my 2013 events list.

Seeing Asia. As planned, we were able to complete three trips this year – Phuket in April, HongKong Disneyland in June for Kevin’s birthday and Bali in October for Kyla’s birthday. Our last minute plan to see Legoland Malaysia was brought to a halt due to Kyla’s injury, but there are still lots of places in SG to explore! We are happy for our children – young as they are, they are able to have this opportunity to travel and see the world and get a glimpse of a different culture. Our 2013 Travel Masterplan is all set!

New Horizons for Alvin. My husband started sinking his teeth into Stock Trading earlier this year and we are glad that he seemed to have found a worthwhile endeavor that he can pursue regardless of his location. This is proving to be something he is deeply interested in and he will be able to continue this even while working from home.

Leaps and Bounds. Kevin has made significant progress in 2012 when it comes to his speech and independent life skills. He no longer maintains his daily cue cards by now, having internalized his daily personal routine. He is now almost a young man, much taller and heavier than me. We started buying him pre-teen stuff like his own hair gel, deodorant, facial cleaner and toner, and even perfume which he liked. Through the devped’s encouragement, we bought an IPAD for him which have educational programs and games for special needs children. He also liked Fruit Ninja as well! He is now better in able to express his needs and wants. He still maintains his special closeness with sister Kyla which is endearing to watch.

Shining. Now a tween, Kyla continues to gravitate towards the defining the kind of young lady she would be. Not a girly girl. Not a shrinking violet. But someone confident in her own skin and proud of her unique talents. She is good at French Drama and she ended snagging the lead Marie in their school year end drama presentation Ou Est Mon Chen. She started taking Taekwondo classes this year and her instructors always praise her agility and focus. Her friendly and caring ways did not go unnoticed, she has many friends in our community and I’m amazed that even the parents know her and greet her fondly. She joined her first Church Camp experience with her friend and this gave them a great experience of meeting new friends and looking after themselves for 1.5 days. She continue to like reading books and also loved painting and all sort of knick knack crafts. She also started having interest in running with a total of three events this year including the prestigious Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2012 Kids Dash. She has grown more confident and with her feet still grounded into her heritage.

Kyla’s First Holy Communion. Last November 4th, Kyla received the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Chuch after successfully completing her catechism class and demonstrating readiness to receive Christ. It was not an easy feat. Unlike me who grew up and attended an all girls Catholic school where First Holy Communion is part of the second graders Christian living or religious education, from where we live, the First Holy Communion is a privilege to be earned and not an automatic bestowal that comes with a certain age. She has shown dedication in attending and participating in her Catechism classes such that when the once a year window of schedule was open, the Catechist agreed that she is ready for Holy Communion.

Farewell Dear Kimby. Our Kimby passed away after a complicated birth at my parents' hometown in Rizal, shortly before her 4th birthday and before we were planning to visit her. We regret that we were not able to be with her in her last moments and that she died, not only of birth complications but also of heartbreak, having been faraway from us. I wrote an article for her in my blog to commemorate the times she had with our family My father created a tomb for her where she was buried beside our backyard nipa hut which was her favorite hang out.

Define Bravery. Kyla met an accident at Christmas day while playing rollerblades. She had a bad fall and broke her left wrist bone. We rushed her to the hospital and doctors attempted to “pull” the misaligned bone and realign the broken section and allow natural bone regeneration, before attempting surgery. Shocking as it was, what amazed all of us including the doctors was her calmness throughout the ordeal. She did not cry or rage into hysterics (which, understandably, a child may have done). She had shown bravery and even asked to explain to her what will we be done. Later, in her usual talkative self, she told me “Mom, they are going to put me to sleep and then they are going to pull my bones so that I can get well.” I cringed internally but had to be brave for her too. She have to get used to wearing a cast and a sling until full recovery and she is taking her accident with optimism too – she even said “At least it’s not my right hand (that got injured), I can still write at school!"

Balance. On the personal front, I am happy to have gotten balance back in my life. There are many ways by which we define balance. For me, this is being able to enjoy and do the things that being happiness in my life. Little things. Mundane things. Trivial stuff. Like more time for reading. Blogging. Baking with Kyla. Art stuff with Kyla. Collecting anything with butterfly designs. Buying new books. Things that make life worth living and bearable. Time with my kids. Time with my better half. Time with friends. Time for myself.

Thank you Lord for the bountiful blessings!

2013. I am ready for you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Run for a Reason (Kyla's Singapore Marathon Experience)

We started getting Kyla into running this year. She closed the year with three running events under her cap with no less than the prestigous Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2012 Kids' Dash (the 7-9 yo category) at the Marina Bay!  There were more than 3,500 children who signed up for the Kids event and it was such a joy to see them full of energy and enthusiasm for the run!  All finishers get a medal so that is an added boost, something they can be proud of. This year's theme was Run for a Reason and the proceeds will benefit charitable foundations in the country.

Kyla has enjoyed running so much and she continued to look forward to the Terry Fox Charity Run this January which will be for the benefit of the Singapore Cancer Society.
Here are a few good reasons to encourage children into running:

1. Good for the Health.  At proper training and moderation, running stimulates cardio-vascular system and increases one's stamina.  The more you run, you will realize that you will be able to slowly but surely outpace yourself as you do this repetitively. Getting kids to run at early age puts them ahead with respect to getting this discipline imbibed in them too.

2. Fight the Digital Couch Potato Syndrome.  I always say we would rather have Kyla spend time in more meaningful recreation like arts and sports than waste time with video games (Ipad games, PSP included)  and even the so-called 'virtual sports'. Handheld games are either solitary activities, or mainly virtual interactions (if you do online games).  Whereas sports facilitate socialization as well (unless you are into solo swimming).  Even while Kyla was running the last 50m or so, she had time to slow down and chat with a classmate who was running in the Kids dash as well! A true-blue chatterbox!

3. Running is a Confidence Booster.  At their age, running is not yet about breaking records but more into embracing the freedom of running against the wind and finishing the course.  The more race they finish, their confidence will surely be boosted and would encourage them to go further and run more. Kyla's first race was a 5KM event.  She ran with my friends from work who were true runners, so she had to step up.  She felt very proud that she finished waaaay ahead of us and this started her quest to continue running.

4. Serendipities.  They may not realize it at once, but running also teaches discipline; perserverance;  pushing the limits; recognizing limitations and rising above it.  In the Standard Chartered race, I was nicely positioned near the flag off line (well, hanging over the Fullerton bridge in a not-so prim-and-proper position) and saw the kids in action moments after the horn sounded off to signal the start of the race.  In the 10-13 yo division, two boys were late for the flag off and had to push their way around the next batch of runners already positioned at the starting line.  With their batch already 100m ahead, they still ran to catch up and were cheered by the crowd. I cheered for them too.  Kyla acquired colds the night before the race.  We knew it would somehow affect breathing but will be manageable so we advised her to do proper inhale/exhale while running.  So she rested very early and told me that she will keep her lozenges handy.  I also quizzed her if she is feeling okay to run. She was positive. 

She made it!

The Race Pack for the SCSM 2012 Kids Dash

Proudly showing off her Finishers' Medal with Kuya Kevin

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mental Allergy (ie, It's All in the Mind)

I can name at least 3 things that I'm mentally allergic to.   I am limiting this list to non-living entities because if I start ranting and raving about types of people (and okay, movies) I'm allergic to, I might get stoned to death, so let us not go there.... for now.

The first two objects are actually foodstuff.  My mental allergy stemmed from the following elements -- food that I actually ate when I was very young (between 5-6 years old), situation that involved sickness (fever, malaise-stuff that kids go through..) and a physical reaction moments after eating the blasted thing.  Am trying not to be graphic here so I hope you get the drift.

One of them was chico (the fruit, also called Saponilla, thanks to Google).  I recall crying my lungs out after the horror of it all.  After that episode, I swear that I can never, ever, ever, ever look, and moreso, attempt to taste the poor fruit.  Until this very day.  I cringe when I see it.  Unless you really hate me, don't bring this near me ever.

The other one was the apple pie. The boxed variety that was introduced in early 80s via a rising foreign fast food joint.  My father bought it as a pasalubong one weekend.  Never tried it again (I am omitting the details).  It took years and years before I overcome the anxiety of having to get gastronomically acquianted again with any apple pie.  I made peace with the said apple pie but I prefer the traditonally baked ones.

Mental allergy is mostly a state of mind rather than an actual physiological reaction.  It involves anxiety, palpitation, stress, name it.  Probably the same feelings induced when you are actually in love but in this case, you happen to hate it.  And because the brain is quite powerful, the mental impact is strong enough to obliterate reason.  And just like the usual allergies, it does leave you with funny reactions, mentally speaking.  If I do a reverse comparison, my mental allergy to those foods has the same strength (but in reverse) as the addiction of people young and old to the Twilight series.

I also grew up having physiological allergies.  I am allergic to seafoods (shrimps and crabs were the worse) and I share this with a sibling as well.  Unfortunately, my son inherited this allergy too.  I was able to overcome this only after giving birth to two children.  I don't know if those events are related but all I knew was that the allergy disappeared only after the second baby.  Some never outgrow of the allergy so I consider myself lucky to be able to enjoy chili crab and cereal prawns now. I am also allergic to detergents but this did not excuse me from having to wash clothes or wash the dishes (pre-Joy dishwashing liquid era).  I had to wear kitchen gloves.  I also grew out of it later on which is a good thing considering I ended up working with detergents.

I did say I'm allergic to three things.

Lastly, I am (mentally) allergic to the sun.  When we had our first ever beach outing, I stayed too long under the hot summer sun and ended up with sunburn. Not a good sight, believe me.  And ugh! When the old skin started peeling off?  Gross!  I ended up looking like a dark ghost in photographs (I was vain).  My natural color came back but I swore not to repeat this episode ever. 

In my second year of high school (I spent one year in Siena College Taytay after moving from the city to the ultra suburbs), I had a morning class and I would arrive home by noon time.  I don't have enough money to take the tricycle ride from the main highway to our home so I will have to walk for 500 meters or so.  I carried an umbrella every single day.  The non-folding variety, even though it was a nuisance.  In my first year in college, I carried an umbrella as well (folding one) even though the university and my dormitory was literally next to each other.

So now, while I have kids who love the beach, you can only make me swim when it's overcast and close to sunset.  Any photograph under the sun is a concession on my part (and I've slathered tons of sunblock prior to that).  Given the amount of ultraviolet rays these days, you are out of your mind to actually desire sun exposure.  And it is incredibly ageing.  So nope.

The irony of life is that while my allergy to the sun is probably all in my mind, it ended up that my daughter who love the beach did have a real allergy against sun exposure.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Year Older

This is a very very very late blog post.

I have forgotten to upload my birthday blog early this year. That day was a literal chaos.  One of our production plant had a fire incident the night before and so the day started amidst a flurry of emergency meetings and conference calls left and right.  We were huddled the entire day in what we called the situation room.  And uncannily, three of us who were meeting and talking together the whole day, were wearing black! 

I am not really big on (my) birthdays. Often, it is a quiet family celebration over dinner. I never needed a flashy, fancy celebration.  Just being alive and happy, surrounded by few but important people in my life, is enough to be thankful for and I keep it simple as that.

I am also grateful for friends at work who made it extra special and ensured that I will not be spending my birthday boxed up in the "situation room" over soda and takeaway sandwich (my go-to meal if I had to work over lunch).  Or worse, missing your lunch during your birthday. Which happened to me three (or four) birthdays ago!  Not by choice.

So they cajoled me into having a Japanese lunch.
The SNO Team, the PS lunch regulars

But being a certified sweet tooth, I did enjoy so much the Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting.  It's a neck to neck favorite alongside a mean Chocolate Cake. 

My Birthday Carrot Cake

I left a bit later than usual that day, still huffing and puffing when I arrived home for the family birthday dinner, with all my favorite dishes cooked up by my better half, as requested!

And somewhere in the back of my mind, hoping that the next birthday would be a more 'regular' day than it has been.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kyla's First Holy Communion

It was a special day for our daughter Kyla.   It was the day she will be receiving her First Holy Communion.  I'd say special and meaningful. Unlike me who grew up and attended an all girls Catholic school where First Holy Communion is part of the second graders Christian living or  religious education, from where we live, the First Holy Communion is a privilege to be earned and not an automatic bestowal that comes with a certain age.

Kyla attends a non-sectorial, non-religous affiliated international school.  In this setting, raising morally upright, God-loving children lies fully in the parents' responsibility.  And this is not just a matter of providing religous education or catechism, but at the end of the day, walking the talk and giving your children an exemplary model of what it means to know and love God.

Although we have been attending Sunday mass, we learned that to prepare for First Holy Communion, children are required to attend catechism every Sunday to help them prepare for receiving the Sacrament of Contrition and Holy Communion. 

We have come to meet the catechists in the Our Lady of Lourdes Church who leads the Sunday catechism class for children, mostly volunteers that include the elderly ladies who dedicate significant time of their life in the service of the church and yound men and women who teach catechism to children.

Children are allowed to receive First Holy Communion only when they are ready and demonstrate maturity in understanding what it truly meant to receive Christ and participate fully in the Sunday mass.  Incidentally, there is only one window every year for First Holy Communicants to receive this sacrament.

We are thankful that after only a few months of catechism class, Kyla was ready for First Holy Communion. She loved her catechism sessions so much that she continued to attend the Sunday classes before hearing the Sunday mass at church.

Seeing our little girl dressed in girly white dress and veil also poignantly remind us that she is, after all, no longer a baby but growing into a graceful, elegant young lady soon.   And we pray that she grow up continuing to have the love of Christ in her heart.   In the end, it is all that truly matters in this life.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Singapore's Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is Singapore's newest attraction at the Marina Bay Promontory area.  Imagine yourself in a vast sprawling garden that is tucked in the middle of a bustling metropolis. This is also interconnected and directly accessible from the Marina Bay Sands itself.  Here is a pictorial tour of the Gardens...

A newly constructed brideway from MBS connects to the Gardens

Gardens by the Bay features a diverse range of plant life from southeast asia as well as from the world's four corners. There are at least seven main attraction within Gardens by the Bay.  The main entrance opens to the Dragon Fly Lake.

Find the Dragon fly...

The Supertrees are a dramatical vertical plant diplays and you will find several of those within the Gardens. These are interconnected by the OCBC Skyway. Tickets are also required for entrance and be prepared to queue.  At nighttime, the Supertrees come to life with a light and sound show!

The Supertree Grove

OCBC Skyway interconnects the Supertrees

Tall and Majestic Supertree

Dine in Style in the Supertree Dining

Flower Dome and Cloud Forest are housed within the two cooled conservatories. Tickets are required for entrance. Be prepared to queue and wait though during busy days.

One of the two Cooled Conservatories.

A view of the conservatories from the elevated deck

If you are fit for long walks, try exploring the Heritage Gardens and World of Plants. These are a collection of six gardens. I started to have an appreciation of tropical rainforest tours after joining my daughter's exposure trips at the Singapore Zoo.

Explore the garden in style via Garden Cruiser tram's 25-minute tour. This will take you from the Dragofly Lake and around the picturesque perimeter of the Gardens.

View of the lake from another side

Gardens galore and long walks make a peaceful afternoon.
See the Singapore Flyer at the horizon.

Gardens by the Bay also got your tummy's covered, from fine dining, seafood restaurant, coffee shop or fast food fare.  Or simply, bring your own picnic basket and blanket and enjoy the afternoon sun sprawled across the lawns.

If you the mere sight of greens and colorful flora brings you a sense of wonder and peace, this is the place for you.  I liked the idea of taking an afternoon stroll in one of the gardens. We found this bench in one of the parks and breeze had a nice, cool feeling as we watch the sunset lurking behind the skytrees. Quite a day.

Rare view of City Sunset behind the Supertrees

Friday, October 26, 2012

Timeless Bali

My earliest recollection of Bali was during my senior high years.   Bali Ha'i was the fabled special island mentioned in the musical adaptation of James Michener's Pulitzer Prize winning book "Tales of the South Pacific."  However, South Pacific's Bali Ha'i (which was inspired by Ambae, an island off-Vanuatu) is not directly related to Indonesia's Bali as I learned.

Count the moments and not the time that flies....

With my limited knowledge of the world and no travel experience then, Bali Ha'i  did capture my interest and led me to Bali.  Apart from our very own Philippine Islands' Boracay and Palawan, Bali ranked as one of the famous getaways in southeast Asia today.   I also remember reading then that Balinese women were considered to be one of the world's most beautiful women.

Bali, being a lush tropic island with its promise of pristine white sands and breathtaking sunset reminiscent of our own Manila Bay sunset - easily goes to our bucket of "places to go" list.  I generally keep expectations simple.

Bali is a 2.5 hr direct plane ride from Singapore.  It was still considered off-peak season and we were able to get a relatively cheaper fare via Air Asia. We were greeted by sunny weather that day upon arriving at Bali's Denpasar Airport, which was undergoing massive renovations. I saw the architectural rendition of the upcoming revitalized Denpasar Airport and I must say, it will be a sight to behold when it's finished. It will manage to stay genuinely Balinese and at the same time, breath that world class look and feel. Something to look forward to.

Approaching Lembongan Island

Bali is also a significant vacation for Kyla who is celebrating her 9th birthday this month and she requested this destination. 

After weighing the options for the accomodations, we chosed Holiday Inn Baruna Bali Resort Hotel.   For one, it is situated on a beachfront, perfect for my vision of strolling along the beach on a sunset and suits Kyla's personal agenda.  Kyla started collecting sea shells and corals from the beaches we have been to. This resort is also 10-minutes away from the airport. You can actually see and hear the airplanes landing to the runway if you hang around at the beach.

Our Villa for the week. This one is secluded from the rest of the hotels.

View of the beach from our terrace

We got a spacious junior suite that can accomodate the main bed and has convertible sofa bed big enough for two kids.  It has a separate dining area and a mini living room where the sofa bed was stashed.   At some point in life, space is a precious non-negotiable bit when hunting for a place to stay.

Truth to tell, I did not have an agenda planned for the 4 day-holiday. I deviated from my usual "we gotta have an itinerary planned in advance to maximize the trip" mentality. I figured, heck, I've been doing planning everyday of my life... Why on earth would I want to do the same on a holiday right?
So we decided to just be spontaneous and see where the week will lead us.  So for the first two days it was simply the art of doing nothing.

Sand art and girly stuff

Waiting for the Sunset

 There are a variety of package tours available in Bali depending on your preference.  For the city slicker, one can have a tour of the rural villages and country life.  For the history buff, Bali have several temples where you can find remnants of the by-gone era; or have a tropical safari and white water rafting adventure. The famous Tanah Lot temple is best viewed during sunset.

Holiday Inn hosted a BBQ Buffet that also comes with a cultural show featuring Balinese traditional dances and the iconic Mas (ie, masked charactrers). Guest were also treated to free henna tattoo which Kyla and I availed of. I got my metamorphosis icon for a tattoo.

With the Balinese Cultural Presentors

Balinese Women in a traditional dance

Kyla's first (henna) tattoo

On our third day we decided to take the cruise to the nearby Lembongan Island. It is an hour's sail aboard Bali Hai II. This will take you to Bali Hai Cruise's private beach club where you can enjoy the tranquil view and white sand beaches, do a bit of snorkeling, parasailing, diving and endless Banana boat ride.  Sumptuous tropical BBQ buffet is served by lunch time.  And by siesta, you can simply, just bask under a hammock and watch the clouds passing by and keep an eye on the coconut trees in case something falls from the sky, which is what Kyla and I did.  You may also opt to get Balinese massage in one of the huts dotting the beachfront.

Welcome Aboard to Bali Hai Cruise !

Basking under the hot Bali sun and unbelievably cool waters

Kevin found his own napping spot at the Beach Club
My favorite part of the week was strolling along the beachfront, watching the twilight -- that point in time when the sky turns to red-orange as the sun starts to be enveloped by the clouds at the horizon.  Alvin and I watched Kevin and Kyla smiling and playing just over the shore and it was as of that moment was frozen for eternity and there was just timelessness....
I've always loved the twilight...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Food Rules by Michael Pollan

The Cover Page
This book by Michael Pollan came to my attention while reading Daphne Osena-Paez' blog. I checked the book review and excerpts before deciding to buy a copy. I got the 2011 hardbound edition. Earlier editions of the same book would have the 'pea in a pod' cover art.

I must say it's a must read for people who care about their health!  I am no health expert but I daresay that what goes into our system significantly affects the outlook of our health.   Not so many years ago, I learned this the hard way.   For moms like me, it is never too early -- or too late -- to imbibe good eating habits to our children (and yes, to our spouses as well!).  Fortunately, my two kids have no qualms about eating green, leafy vegetables.  Something I could have benefitted from when I was growing up.

And, I really hate to say this, but let's face it --  at a certain age, we have to put extra attention to our health if we want to live long enough to enjoy life (and for my husband and I, hopefully long enough to enjoy our grandchildren, if not beyond). 

If those are not great motivations to begin with, I don't know what is!   I am personally guilty of having too many excuses for sticking to healthy eating and this book is exactly the extra jolt I needed.

"The Food Rules" are centered on 83 simple rules to live by for a lifetime of good health, good food.  It's a fun, lightweight read, if not quite chatty. Reading it is like having an afternoon chit chat with an old friend over coffee.  My kind of reading.  I hope you get the drift.   As a bonus, the refreshing illustrations by Maira Kalman were a joy to see.

The 83 rules actually condense into 3 main concepts / chapters:

Eat Food.

Mostly Plants.

Not Too Much.

After finishing the book, I realized there is nothing rocket-science about the food rules presented.  We learned most of these were stuff we learned from grade school sciences and home economics. But it doesn't hurt to be reminded from time to time.   There were also new ideas I've extracted from this book that I've decided to immediately put into good use and I must say I'm pleased!

Rule 76: Place a bouquet of flowers on the table
and everything will taste twice as good.
I agree!!!  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

POSB PAssion Run for Kids 2012

Our second venture into family fun run was greeted by a pleasant and breezy Sunday morning weather with the Marina Promontory and the panoramic Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay as the picturesque backdrop of the 3.5 KM Family Walk event.

Gardens by the Bay - Literally a stroll in the park kindda thing

"The POSB PAssion Kids Fund aims to support the children in the community through different programmes. It is part of the People's Association Community Development Fund (PACDF) whose objective is to promote activities and programmes which will contribute towards social capital and community development." (POSB Fun Run Webpage)

Race Pack Collection at Velocity Sports Mall

Each participant receives a runner's pack that include shirt, shoe bag and towel
Since it is technically a walking event, there is less pressure at hand. Kyla, being the competitive one, did insist we should run instead of walking  (boring, she did say...). Nevertheless the temptation for photo ops especially at the Gardens area got the better of me.

There are also running events earlier that day including the 10KM competitive event but we chosed to do the Family Walk so that we can enjoy this together.

More pictures from the event...

Waiting Area overlooks the MBS. Beauty!
Comic Relief. Kyla running backwards!
Can't resist it! The photo op, that is!
What did I tell you - it's a walk in the park!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What's Cooking Up at Cookyn Inc.?

It's the first ever teambuilding event for the AAIJK PS Team!

Arranged by the PS team's self-appointed Chief Entertainment Officer Bharath and with Kanitha's help, the  teambuilding a la Food Network Challenge was set in the kitchen studio of Cookyn Inc. tucked somewhere along the Rangoon Road.

The Wacky Wannabe Chefs

Thanks to Cookyn Inc for the hosting and facilitating the cookfest
and for the pictures for this teambuilding event

We were divided into three teams and each representing a unique cuisine. Takagi-san and team got the Japanese theme. The Spanish cuisine was led by Pepe (of course).  We thought those were pretty convenient set-up.  And last but not the least, my team got the Vietnamese cuisine, not to mention we had to battle it out with only 5 members for the greater part of the competition. We should have named our team Voltes V.

Ready, Get Set, Cook!

Each team will prepare two dishes, the quantity should be able to cover the PS team attendees. The gastronomic value of the dishes will determine whether or not we will have an enjoyable group dinner later after the cookfest!

One of the two dishes is unique to the group's theme and will have to incorporate a special ingredient that was revealed in the middle of the competition.  The "challenge" dish will be common for all three teams (Potato Salad) and will also need to incorporate the second special ingredient. This must be presented in a way that epitomizes the cuisine being represented by each team.

We had one hour and fifty minutes to complete the task, including preparation, plating, poster making and clean-up.  Each team will then have to plate up their masterpieces and and a chosen speaker will have to present this to the entire group with posters/visual aids to boot! Needless to say, our artwork planners were indeed very busy in the dying minutes of the competition!

See the different teams in action!

Getting ready for some serious cooking!

The seaweed as the Japanese team's secret ingredient
Whip it!

Chef Pepe calling the shots!
Andre and Regina in charge of the challenge dish
All done and ready for the presentation

Wrap away !!!
Multi-tasking at its best.
"Hey, start thinking of the poster design while you are peeling the mango and potatoes, ok?"

Can't wait to try 'em!

A closer look at the final products... all world class creations!

Turning Japanese
Strawberry and Green Tea Trifle and their version of Potato Salad ala Sushi Roll
...and I need to get the recipe for this!!!! Yummy!
Spanish "El Torero" Team's Chicken in a Parcel and Chunky Potato Salad

A closer look with a dash of the Pimiento powder

The Dai Doi (Great Food) Team's Vietnamese Spring Rolls and
Creamy Potato Salad with Caramelized Lychee, Red Pepper and Onion topping
Top View. This plating also showcases the mango, the special topping and a dollop of the peanut sauce.

And the Winner is... The Vietnamese Team!!!
Creative presentation, clock-work precision and teamwork won the day!

Once in a lifetime chance to win an I-PADdle!

And the final verdict is in the tasting!

Cheers to the PS team!!!

And, it's the moment of truth... Time to taste the dishes!

Seriously Now!

You can say that it has been truly a tough competition, with each team, true to the indomitable PS Spirit, gave their best and also had fun in the process! Campai to the PS Team for a job well done!