Monthly Archives

June 2008

Awesome Filipinos

Romi Garduce – The First Filipino to Climb the Seven Summits

Mt. Denali Climb
Romi Garduce resting after the summit climb of Mt. Denali. Notice the ice formed on their neck bibs and googles.

Related Information: Garduce defies snowstorm to reach Denali summit

Congratulations to Romi Garduce for climbing Mt. Denali in North America!

Five Down and Two to go, Romi! We are proud of you and we will celebrate the Seven Summits in 2010!

PMt. Kilimanjaro, Africa (5,895 meters or 19,341 feet) – highest peak in Africa; Climbed September 2002
P Mt. Aconcagua, Argentina (6,962 meters or 22,841 feet) – highest peak in South America; Climbed January 2005.
P Mt. Everest, Nepal (8,848 meters or 29,029 feet) – highest mountain in the World; Climbed May 2006.
P Mt. Elbrus, Russia (5,642 meters or 18,510 feet) – highest peak in Europe; Climbed August 2007.

P Mt. McKinley or Denali (6,194 meters or 20,320 feet) – highest peak in North America; Climbed June 2008

Carstensz Pyramid (4,884 meters or 16,024 feet) in the Australian continent; To climb in 2009!

Vinzon Massif, Antartica (4,892 meters or 16,050 feet) in 2010!

Mt. Denali Climb
The Mt. Denali climb is dedicated for Romi’s tree-planting campaign to fight global warming (hence the snowman w/ seedling).


Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.

Movie Reviews

Princess Urduja – The First Filipino Animated Film

(Thanks to Michelle Morelos for the Urduja photos)

Congratulations to Producer Tony Tuviera (of Eat Bulaga fame) and Director Reggie Entienza for Urduja! It is “the first-ever Philippine full-length digital and traditional animation film” that showcase Filipino talent and animation capabilities (see more info: Life is an Animation) This is history in the making. Who said that the Filipino film industry is dead?

Urduja is a fictional story of a warrior princess in the land of Taliwisi which is in Pangasinan. The story revolves around the forbidden love story of Princess Urduja(voiced by Regine Velasquez) and the Chinese Pirate, Lim Hang (voiced by Cesar Montano). It also offers a view of the tribal lives and ancient traditions in the Philippines. I love the movie’s theme song “Babae Ako” sang by Regine Velasquez.

Urduja reapplies some of Hollywood animation’s winning formula which uses a woman as a lead character like in Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. The musical romance scenes of Urduja and Lim Hang are reminiscent of Pocahontas. It is like watching anime-like cartoons but dubbed in Tagalog. You’ll get entertained by the Eat Bulaga humor between Tasir (a tarsier voiced by Allan K) and Kutkut (a rat voiced by Michael V). They resemble the tandem of Timon (a meerkat), and Pumbaa (a warthog) from the Lion King.

What I did not like about the movie is the over use of romantic cliches,and tired Eat Bulaga jokes. The plot is also predictable.

I sincerely hope that this opens the door to animated movies featuring the enchanted tales of Filipino folklore or the lost island of Lemuria in the Philippines.
I am proud that we finally have our first Filipino-made animated film! Watch it for its historical significance and realize that “Kaya pala natin ito (We can do it!)!”

Have you watched Urduja? What do you think of it?


Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.

Our Family Posts

OAP Readers Survey

*** June 19 Update: *** 250+ responses and counting. We are so thankful for all the support! I am reading each of the comments and listening to each one of them. You gave me a lot of good ideas on how we can take OAP to the next level. I will wait for a few more days before I close the survey. Salamat!
Syoti J Aidan Bumble Bee
Aidan and Josh would like to hear from you!

Feedbacks and comments are very important for us. We would like to hear your thoughts on our ideas and plans to bring Our Awesome Planet to the next level. It would only take you 5 minutes to answer this survey. The first part of the survey focuses on our plans for OAP while the second part focuses on getting to know more about you.

Take the survey here: Our Awesome Planet Survey

Thank you for all your support! May you live an Awesome Life,


Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.

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Have a Piquant Dinner before Watching Avenue Q


A great musical play like Avenue Q should go with a great dinner like Piquant in RCBC. It is surprising to find a restaurant that promises delicious healthy food inside an office buidling like RCBC.

With an engaging name like Piquant, expect the food to offer sharp and distinct taste. Piquant menu offers low fat diet meals, and Atkins/ South Beach diet-friendly dishes. Most of the food are either grilled, roasted, baked, broiled, poached, steamed or dry-sauteed. Brown rice, whole wheat bread and whole wheat spaghetti are readily available anytime of the day.

Welcome to Piquant and Beverages | Breakfast and Power Breakfast | Soups | Pinoy Please and Executive Meals | Salads and Sandwiches | Entrees | Pastas | Take-out Toppings and Desserts | Healthy Information from Piquant

For people watching Avenue Q on weekdays, don't miss dining at Piquant, 3rd floor of RCBC. Unfortunately, they are closed on weekends.
Grilled Rosemary Chicken (P225 + SC) with Roasted Tomato and Cucumber Sauce. (Rosemary Marinated Chicken Breast)

This is a certified Atkins/ South Beach diet compliant meal. I loved the grilled chicken dipped in the sweetness of the tomato sauce accented by the taste of rosemary. I can eat this everyday.

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Our Family Posts

Happy Father’s Day Popsy!

Mahabang Buhangin, Cam Norte-22

Happy Father's Day to Popsy and all the fathers out there! Having been blessed with two wonderful sons, I realize how hard it is to be a father.

The leadership responsibility is crucial to the financial and spiritual success of the family. It is not easy to raise two sons. Teaching them the right values and instilling discipline entail a lot of energy and thought. I now appreciate what fatherhood means.

I like to thank my dad for taking care of us! He brought us to the school every single day and yet never hear him complain about anything. He is also kind enough to always give whatever we want (within reasonable financial terms of course). I can also feel that he loves Aidan so much and cares for him the same way he cared for me all these years. Popsy, I love you. Please don't forget to greet your fathers in a very special way today.


Carla’s Avenue Q

***** June 13, 2007 Opening Night Update *****

Avenue Q-1 Avenue Q-2

Carla’s performance was really something else on opening night. It is indeed like watching an entirely new show. We are glad to introduce the show to people who never watched it before. Every Filipino in Makati should be watching this world-class show. If US has Broadway in New York and Europe has West End in London, Asia has Manila as the capital of world-class musical theater shows. I am so proud of our theater guys!

The show only runs until June 22 Sunday. So don’t miss it! This is the finale run and you won’t see it in Manila ever again.

Here are the contact numbers where you can buy your tickets:
June 13 Friday 8pm Joelle Horca +63920-9010863
June 14 Saturday 2pm Lorna Lopez +63917-9256505
June 14 Saturday 8pm Joelle Horca +63920-9010863
June 15 Sunday 3pm Pamela Cruz +63906-3414545
June 15 Sunday 8pm Theody Demaisip +63920-9326067
June 17 Tuesday 8pm Women of Aleitheia +63915-9263965
June 18 Wednesday 8pm Alexandra Orosa +63917-8432252
June 19 Thursday 8pm Ticketworld +632 891-9999
June 20 Friday 8pm Ticketworld +632 891-9999
June 21 Saturday 2pm Jay Duran +63917-5366832
June 21 Saturday 8pm Lorna Lopez +63917-9256505
June 22 Sunday 3pm Theody Demaisip +63920-9326067
June 22 Sunday 8pm Mae Castro +63906-3414559

June 12, Original Post

Avenue Q: carla felix pic

Great Job, Carla! Most of the audience, who attended Avenue Q’s technical dress rehearsal last night, would agree that Atlantis made a great decision in selecting Carla Guevarra to play the leading female role, replacing Rachel Alejandro.

Carla did it! She was able to perform Kate Monster very well and delivered a seamless switching of character as Kate and Lucy T. Slut.

As I watched the show, I realized that she was more beautiful than Rachel Alejandro (my personal opinion). Carla was able to convincingly portray the seductiveness of Lucy The Slut better than Rachel. You shouldn’t miss this! You’ve got to watch the show to see how a puppet can be as seductive as a real female thru Carla’s right combination of voice and movement.

I also liked the pa-tweetums effect of Kate Monster and the romantic chemistry she had with Princeton. The courting scenes between Kate and Princeton were more alive than I remembered it from the previous Avenue Q shows I’ve watched.

Since it was a technical dress rehearsal, I could see Carla‘s nervousness at the start but her acting performance slowly transformed with confidence as the show went on. Towards the middle of the show, Carla got that puppet magic where you won’t notice her as a person anymore because she was able to mirror her facial expression through the puppet. At the end, you’ll just noticed that you were already watching the puppet’s act and forgot that Carla was even there.

I honestly thought that Rachel Alejandro’s performance as Kate Monster cannot be replaced but Carla elevated the sweet and seductive roles of Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut into a different level. Although, I must admit that Rachel’s version of “There’s A Fine, Fine Line…” cannot be matched and will forever be remembered to those who have watched Avenue Q several times.

I would commend Aiza Seguerra as she portrayed the role of Gary Coleman, Joel Trinidad as Trekkie Monster, and Frenchie Dy as Christmas Eve for their great performance. They have mastered it and are ready for their Singapore stint!

Thanks to Atlantis Productions and Lorna, the Bachelor Girl, for inviting me to this technical dress rehearsal! Lorna is selling tickets for the 21 June, Saturday, 8pm show of Avenue Q.

Avenue Q – The Farewell Run:

13-22 June 2008 at

Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza.

All tickets may be bought from Atlantis Productions (, 892-7078)

Ticketworld (, 891-9999).

Some Final Reminders and Tips for those watching Avenue Q on its Finale Run:

1. Casual Chic dress code. Wearing jeans is perfectly OK.

2. Given Carla‘s exceptional performance of Lucy T. Slut and the sex scene of Kate Monster, you might need to talk to your kids about the adult content of the show before it starts.

3. Parking at RCBC Plaza is P40 for 2 hours and visitor’s parking is on the Basement 5.

4. You can eat at Piquant, Kangaroo Jack (for free Wifi), located at the 3rd floor or Hexagon Lounge at 4th floor. There are a lot of fast food outlet in the third floor (Starbucks, Olivers, Subway, Mexicali, etc.) for those who only have a few minutes left before the show starts.

5. Show starts and ends on time with a 15-minute intermission in between sets.

6. After the intermission, there is a scene in the second act where they will ask the audience for donation for the Monterssori school. Be prepared to give money when they pass around the hat.

7. Throughout the entire show, you might be tempted to sing and dance but you have to control yourself and respect the people beside you.

8. Expect the show to end on or before 10:30pm. If you brought and parked your car at the RCBC parking lot, expect that there would be people traffic going to the basement via the elevator after the show.

9. Balcony and Orchestra Center seats are almost sold out in most of the shows but there are still available Orchestra Sides and Loge tickets. For last minute buyers, you can still buy tickets on the night of the show.

10. If you have friends who never watched it before, invite them to watch one of the awesome musical broadway show in the Philippines since The Rent days. They only have until this and next weekend to watch it before it goes to SIngapore. Matinee Show starts at 2pm while evening show starts at 8pm.


Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.


West Side Story

After it’s highly successful staging of Footloose (2005) and Disney’s High School Musical (2007), Stages Production Specialists Inc. launches its 3rd and most ambitious production yet – West Side Story!

Touted to be the best musical of all time with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and original choreography by Jerome Robbins, this exciting production will be headed by Asia’s pop idol Christian Bautista who is perfect for the role of Tony and Joanna Ampil of Ms. Saigon fame as Maria.

West Side Story was first staged in Manila back in 1982 with Audie Gemora as Riff and Menchu Lauchengco as Maria. Happily, the Philippines’ King and Queen of Philippine Musical Theater now sit at the helm of a classic favorite which promises to bring something new for the current generation of theater goers, yet still keep all it’s charm for the generation who wishes to relive the glorious moments of the 1959 Academy Award winner Best Film. It will be revived on Broadway next year by it’s original director Arthur Laurents.
West Side Story is an intense, dramatic dance musical with many show-stopping numbers and immortal songs like “Somewhere”, “ Tonight”, “One Hand One Heart”, “America” and “Something’s Coming.” And with Stages’ comprehensive marketing and promotions campaign, it’s a perfect formula for individuals and groups who are looking for a hit fundraiser activity.

It will be a night “like no other night”. Come and be part of it.

Opening Night: Show-For-A-Cause: September 5, 2008. 8PM, Meralco Theater.

Ticket prices are as follows:
500 – balcony sides
700 – balcony center
1000 – orchestra / loge side
1200 – orchestra / loge center

Part of the proceeds from the play will be donated to Kythe , a foundation whose primary cause is children with cancer. Reservations and inquiries can be sent to 0917-8676332 or [email protected] 🙂 Please mention that you are a friend of Our Awesome Planet.

Our Family Posts

Summer of 2008: Love for Philippines, Rogin E Update, and Taking OAP to the Next Level

Callao Caves-1

Summer of 2008 is a turning point in my life. As we end the summer season, allow me to share with you my own reflections and learnings.

1. The more you explore the Philippines, the more you will love it.
I went on a blogging sabbatical and decided to explore the beauty of the Philippines. Just this summer, I’ve been to Coron in Palawan, Basco/ Sabtang in Batanes, Batad in Banaue, Bolinao in Pangasinan, 100 Islands in Pangasinan, Pahiyas in Quezon, Caramoan in Camarines Sur, Donsol in Sorsogon, Calaguas Islands in Camarines Norte, Callao Caves in Tuguegarao, and Palaui Island in Cagayan. I met Filipinos along the way who love the Philippines because they see how beautiful it is. This is the spirit behind OAP’s advocacy. I would like to show the world how beautiful the Philippines is, so that each Filipino will love their country.

2. I’m committed to improving the quality of the blog posts in OAP.
I’m taking OAP to the next level both in terms of quality and frequency of blog posts. Also, I have resolved to decline tasting previews or accept free stuff to blog about. Favorable reviews cannot be bought and I want to be objective. In the next six months, I will be writing my book Our Awesome Planet: Philippines. I would like you to be a part of it. I’ll share more details about how you can contribute to the book. Also, I’m looking for a publisher who will publish an awesome book about the Philippines. If you know anyone who may be interested in this partnership, please shoot me an e-mail.

3. How to leverage blog as an effective decision making tool.
Thanks to all the parents who helped us in deciding the school for Aidan. We were able to narrow down the best pre-school for Aidan based on independent comments and suggestions from OAP readers. I plan to post our research on the different schools available in Manila.

4. You attract people with the same “core identity”.
Via OAP, I was able to meet foodies, travelers and passionate Filipinos who love the Philippines. This is the single biggest reward that I get from Our Awesome Planet. Thank you for all the support and watch out for exciting things in the next few months.

5. To be a maven, you need to be emotionally independent.
I’m usually not affected by criticisms. I actually welcome them because I learn a lot. I would not tolerate, however, vulgarity in any form or shape, especially if the comments become personal attacks that degrade other people. I’m thankful to all the OAP friends who send me letters of support to continue what I am doing.

6. Public Accountability via Rogin-E contest does not work for me.
The Rogin-E biggest losers contest was really good but it did not work for me. I was able to go back to the gym but it did not help in controlling my habits in eating and restaurant hopping. It is another failed attempt for me at losing weight and I congratulate Carlos Celdran for his awesome transformation. I’m now a user of Rogin-E vitamins because I feel the difference in terms of the energy it provides me. I need to be more accountable to myself and modify my eating lifestyle

7. I hate moderating the comments.
I tried to moderate the comments for a few days as suggested by Carlos Celdran but I discovered that I hate it. I’ve decided to moderate the comments after publication as usual. I would also like to call on the readers to refrain from impersonating another commenter’s identity. You know what I mean. I also use the website address of commenters instead of their email address as the hyperlink of the commenters’ name to protect their privacy.

8. I love P&G but it’s time to move on to a higher calling.
I am lucky to experience working in P&G. (I honestly believe that P&G is the Best Company in the Philippines (period).) I learned a lot from my 13 years career in P&G in the areas of coaching other people, project management (got certified in PMP), creating innovative information solutions, and developing winning business strategies. This is the summer that quelled the what-ifs. The road is forked and I decided to follow my passion instead and go full time as a professional blogger and internet marketer in the Philippines. By being independent, I remove any conflict of interests in future projects


Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.


Fluke, a Stroke of Luck

A.Venue Restaurant Reviews in OAP
A Tale of Two Art Cafes in A.Venue
Gasthof – Home of Boracay’s Famous Baby Back Ribs!
Burger Avenue’s Ridiculous Challenge
Foccacia, A Slice of Italy in A.Venue Mall

I must admit that the name of the restaurant is catchy but it has a negative connotation. Fluke (pronounced as flook), literally means a stroke of luck. It is usually used to describe a one-hit wonder or in Filipino, I guess the closest word I could think of is chamba. From a home-based Miniatures Bakeshop and catering service, the Palanca family decided to setup their first restaurant at the A.Venue Mall along Makati Avenue.

I liked their best sellers — Beef Salpicao, Three Cheese Lasagna and especially the mini-eclairs and mini-cream puffs. No doubt that this home-style cooking resto would be a hit and won’t be a fluke!


Fluke Soft Opening Menu:
All Day Breakfasts, Picas and Soups | Salads, Pasta, Beef, and Pork | Chicken, Seafood, Rice Bowls, and Snacks/Merienda | Drinks, Desserts, Others

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Our Family Posts

Havaianas: Flipping for the Beach Judging

Havaianas Judging-7
Related Posts: 7 Tips on Havaianas’ Flipping for the Beach Contest

I was happy to be one of the judges for the “Havaianas Flipping for the Beach contest. Thanks to all OAP friends for all your support! I learned a lot as a judge and I want to share my learnings with you.

Learning #1: Follow the instructions to the detail or you’ll get pre-screened. There were a total of 300 entries which were pre-screened to 21 finalists. The agency handling the entries removed those who did not follow instructions. Most of the criteria were focused on being unique so Boracay and Palawan entries were removed. If you join a contest, your first goal is to get past the pre-screening committee. I guess this is true for all contests — writing or photo.
Havaianas Judging-2
It was so cool to judge alongside Simeon Jun Ventura, Jr. , Editor-in-Chief of Mabuhay Magazine, Liza Ilarde, Editor-in-Chief of Travel Life, Anne Arcenas Gonzalez, Managing Director of Terry S.A, and Marbee Go, Travel and Tourism Editor of Manila Bulletin among others…

Learning #2: Impress the judges by making your presentation stand out of the crowd.
The most creative entry made a lasting impression thus, influenced the scoring of the judge. The judging were very subjective based on the background of the judge. In this particular contest, there were 9 judges to average out that subjective bias. Your second goal in a contest entry is to impress the judge with a presentation that would knock the judge off her chair and say wow.

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