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Curious to see artwork created or inspired by the old British Empire’s influences in Asia (and because I also want to make good use of my Gallery Insider pass), I visited the National Gallery Singapore last Friday.

There’s something magical about going to the museum or art gallery by yourself. You can look around and explore at your own pace. In my case, I downloaded the National Gallery App and used one of its features to give me a guided audio tour of Artist and Empire.

I thought I could cover the exhibition in an hour. But I thought the displays were worth enjoying by taking your time. Rushing through it is kind of stupid lol.

There were barely any other patrons visiting on a Friday night. I enjoyed the collection in peace. The docents were helpful when I needed to look for certain pieces mentioned by the app I was using.

Artist and Empire is only the 2nd international exhibit to open at National Gallery Singapore. It features about 200 works from international and regional collections. It is organised by the gallery in association with Tate Britain.


Artist and Empire runs until 26 March 2017.

You can secure tickets here via their website.

Dragon boating can be a tough sport that builds you physically, mentally, and emotionally. For me, it is about trying to be strong in all three.

There are wonderful resources for new dragon boat paddlers. I recommend visiting Paddle Chica, Dragonboat MVP, and Eugephemisms for plenty of inspirational stories.

After paddling for two years, I’ve come up with my 9 reasons to love dragon boating.

1. It builds your strength.

When you have a teammate encourage you to LIFT HEAVIER, you really do lift heavier. Nakakahiya kasi lol. So you keep trying. You keep lifting. Until bit by bit you can see yourself lifting heavier. What you couldn’t do before with heavy weights… it’s suddenly possible. Consistent training required!

2. It improves your endurance.

A few years ago, I used to get tired easily after doing the simplest kind of jogging. But with paddling (and running regularly in short distance races), I noticed my endurance improve. I find myself running further and faster. It feels great!

3. It enables networking opportunities.

Joining a team means you get to meet all sorts of people, FAST. In the past two years, I have met interior designers, teachers, architects, engineers, and aircraft mechanics. From casinos to telecom stores. It is great to meet people from different industries. This allows you to connect with each other. Job openings, rentals…

4. It makes you more “social”.

Not only do you get to socialize with your teammates (and bond with them over a beer or hard drinks especially after a race), you also get to meet people from other teams. In the Singapore case, the dragon boat community stretches across corporations, schools, and expatriate teams. Other expat teams organize events which give you the opportunity to network (see No. 3) and to socialize.

5. It saves you money from an expensive gym membership.

Gym memberships in Singapore are pricey. I feel it’s meant for people serious about bodybuilding or cross-training. Joining a dragon boat team is cheaper and worth it. In our team alone you get four trainings each week. At the swimming pool, on land, and in the water. You gain experiences and memories for less than 300 SGD in a year.

6. It allows you to face your fears.

I had stupid fears like “removing my shirt at the pool” (insecure about my body) or “fear of the deep water”. But you realize that these are really just hindering you from achieving your own goals. Who cares? These teammates will see you without a shirt, ANYWAY. And they don’t care. What matters is if you paddle and strive to improve your form. Scared of the water? You have a PFD or a personal flotation device. It’s not so bad!

7. It brings out your competitive side.

This can work both ways. It can be negative when you compare yourself to others. Honestly, I never had a “competitive side” until I joined the team. Joining a dragon boat team is great to give you direction and to help you gauge where you are towards achieving your goals. It is important to add that it is a competition with YOURSELF. Not with another teammate (some people make that mistake!). It is about striving to be the BEST VERSION of yourself.

8. It gives you a nice tan and a better-looking physique!

Pale skin is boring. LOL

9. It makes your wardrobe easy-to-manage.

Half of your wardrobe is suddenly dry-fit! And easy to pack!

These are some of the things I love about joining a dragon boat team. What excites you about joining a new sport like dragon boating?

I was thinking gusto ko mag-tipid with entertainment costs this year. I’m fine with Netflix and some PS4. Cutting back on spending SGD 20.00 at the cinemas each time should be rewarding I guess!

Still, there are some films I’m excited about this year. Here are seven of them!

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

Probably the biggest Oscar snub in recent history. The LEGO Movie was amazing! Who knew putting together a bunch of little blocks could be hilarious. The movie was appealing to both kids and adults. I’m excited about this next one… TO THE BAT MOBILE! *boom*

EPISODE VIII

Last December’s Rogue One was the most refreshing take of the Star Wars franchise so far. If “The Force Awakens” was the dull reboot (they just did plenty Star Wars stuff from the past and repeated it again)… Episode VIII should have more space for FRESH storytelling. And it’s to focus on Luke Skywalker. It’s also to remember Carrie Fisher.

RINGS

Some nostalgia over watching this in the cinemas in ATC or whatever. Rings is almost non-sense. But if they can do it for the new generation, I’ll be in the cinemas to watch this.

GHOST IN THE SHELL

I worry this is all effects-driven. The trailer is the fun part. The movie will be a disappointment. I don’t know. But it reminds me of Memoirs of a Geisha (I mean, apart from the opening scenes of the trailer). I love cityscapes.

THE MUMMY

The one with Rachel Weisz from the 90s is a classic. I can’t believe they are rebooting this already. $$$$$$$ But I’m still putting this on my list to watch this year. Tom Cruise doesn’t seem to age.

DESPICABLE ME 3

The movie franchise that launched the minions! I love the take in the “official trailer”. It’s not the “IN A WORLD” scripting. It’s just about a bunch of 80s music and the villain which looks so interesting!

DUNKIRK

The No. 1 film I’m most excited about in 2017 is Dunkirk. It follows the tragedy/miracle of the British forces that were cornered at Dunkirk (France) in World War II. Directed by Christopher Nolan. ❤

What films are you excited about in 2017? Comment!

Jollibee’s fifth outlet in Singapore is opening soon at Paya Lebar Square. It’s at a key location at the intersection of the East-West and Circle Lines.

60 Paya Lebar
#01-05/06/07 Paya Lebar Square
Singapore 409051
(Near Paya Lebar MRT Station)

It’s also near the house and our training areas. So this is a welcome treat!


The other four locations are:

  • Lucky Plaza – 6th Floor
  • Lucky Plaza – Basement
  • Changi Point
  • N Squared

Updated 23-March – Jollibee Paya Lebar opens April 2017!

1. Write the best content for my blog in years. Goal: 20 useful and informative entries.

2. Read at least 4 books this year. Four, lol. That would be a personal record.

3. Listen more, talk less. Goal: Not be Mr. Know-it-all and Mr. Suggestion. Just to listen!

4. Produce at least 12 vlog episodes this year. Each one being at least 80% informative.

5. Lift heavier weights. Goal: Learn proper form for dead lifts. Be able to do pull-ups.

6. Run faster or with a better/consistent pace. Goal: Run a 10km in less than 1 hour.

7. Paddle better. Goal: Improve form and connect with coach/captains to correct mistakes.

8. De-clutter. Remove/dispose/donate at least half of my current belongings. Goal: 50% removal.

9. Manage self better. Goal: In the office earlier than normal. Wear better clothes.

10. Save money.

When Robinson’s Place General Trias opened in 2016, it brought with it the excitement and convenience of having a mall just five minutes away from home. Gone are the days of spending almost an hour getting to SM Bacoor or SM Dasmarinas. Even getting to nearby SM Rosario (ten minutes away from my family’s house) takes about 15 minutes due to traffic along EPZA.

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Seven reasons I’m thrilled about this new mall nearby:

  1. Wonderful dining options in an “al fresco” setting. Great to see two all-time favourites “Shakey’s Pizza” and “Gerry’s Grill”. There are plenty of other choices like Kuya J, a sisig restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, etc.
  2. Family agrees that Robinson’s cinemas here are good. I counted six cinemas. The lobby is quite spacious.
  3. Robinson’s Supermarket is the right size. I don’t like walking a mile to get from one side of the supermarket to the other.
  4. Great selection of mall standards. Bench, Mang Inasal, Potato Corner, Chowking, Jollibee, Greenwich, Pennshoppe, Levi’s, BDO, hardware stores, Daiso, furniture shops…
  5. Wide open spaces, a roof park, the al fresco area. It does not feel stuffy or boxed at all.
  6. Select government services are available like LTO and Phil Post. I understand that it is possible to do renewals here for driver’s license.
  7. Location at Tejero. The mall does not contribute to the centuries-old traffic problems of nearby Tejero. But it’s location just a few steps from an intersection of Tanza, Rosario, and General Trias… is ultimately convenient.

What do you think about Robinson’s Place General Trias?

Location of Robinson’s Place General Trias

Surprise, it’s faster this year!

I got my ACR I-Card Annual Report completed in less than 30 minutes. It’s a pleasant surprise because I did it on the first working day of 2017. That’s a record-breaking completion after having doing this for several years.

This is assuming you have all your papers in good standing. For this, I open this journal entry with a “good job” Bureau of Immigration – Manila!

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Displayed with large texts because there are many elderly who file for this each year.

ANNUAL REPORT 2017

Like in recent years, the Annual Report steps are displayed in large texts. It’s streamlined effectively into three steps: EVALUATION, ASSESSMENT, and PAYMENT.

I noticed this year they created a PAYMENT counter at the open area outside of the main building. This helps ease traffic for the people doing the annual report. No longer having to crowd inside the main building and queuing side by side with the rest of the public who are paying for other transactions at the bureau. Good job.

I hope it could be done like this every year.

ACR I-CARD RENEWAL

Now, we move onto my ACR I-Card renewal. It has been five years since I experienced hell at this same building.

Let’s recall in 2012 the endless queues on those horrific January mornings. I remember the people holding ACR I-Cards that were printed WITHOUT EXPIRY DATES. Stories of people being held up at the airport because when the Immigration Officer (IO) checked their ACR I-Card, it was expired! And poor souls, true enough when you look at their cards… the expiry portion is BLANK! WTF talaga.

You can imagine the anxiety I have for my ACR I-Card Renewal going into 2017. However, I gave positive thoughts. The BI has improved over the years based on how they seem to improve the Annual Report each year. I can see improvements in efficiency. LORD. Salamat.

  • Total Cost: PHP 2,988.50
  • Total Time to Accomplish Submission of Documents: 4 hours

For the complete process for the ACR I-Card Renewal, visit this page on the BI website. It’s what I used to prepare my documents.

George’s Tips:

  1. Prepare all the documents and place them in the proper order.
  2. Put them into a folder 8×14 (see website for details).
  3. Have a pen, stapler, binder, …all of these extra stuff in your bag just in case.
  4. It helps to smile even if you must fake it. Nothing helps if you are mean to the people at the windows. Imagine they have to deal with hundreds of grumpy faces everyday.

I will admit… people need a stroke of luck when dealing with the BI. Sometimes your papers are all correct and in order. But with the shuffling between windows or photocopying… something can easily fall out of place. Or a misplaced document might not even be your fault. Andami kasing papel!

Luckily, no problems with my paperwork. I followed procedure. I went to the BI armed with information available on the BI website. I hope they keep that website updated with the processes. Kasi malaking tulong na po ito!

The renewal processing will take 3-4 weeks. I heard someone actually say one month. I have authorised my parents to claim it on my behalf. Again, visit the website for details!

Next… because I work in Singapore… I need a…

ACR I-CARD WAIVER

I don’t have the luxury of waiting 3 to 4 weeks for the release of my new ACR I-Card. While I believe this whole waiver could be streamlined if they changed the rule to “KEEP YOUR OLD CARD UNTIL THE NEW ONE IS ISSUED.” … sayang naman if BI can’t cash in on another process.

So I applied for my ACR I-Card Waiver. Which in itself takes three to four days to process. Their website says apply for the waiver at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure. Eh how!

Learn how you can apply for an ACR I-Card Waiver by visiting this page on the BI website. I used the information there to help me apply for mine.

Because of the website, I arrived prepared with my letter addressed to the commissioner (derecho talaga sa commissioner wow). You have to get the letter stamped and they do a check if you have any derogatory record.

  • Cost of Waiver including the Express Lane Fee: PHP 1,010.00
  • Total Cost including the Exit Permits, etc.: PHP 3,180.00
  • Total Duration (achieved with some running between windows): 1 hour

Included is the Exit Permit, Clearance, etc. which is normally paid at the airport prior to departure. The IO at the window issues me a six months waiver after I informed him I’ll be back in the Philippines in April. On the receipt it says “Grace Period”. I have to claim the waiver tomorrow or on Friday.

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OVERALL

It will take much to completely reform my view of the Bureau of Immigration in Manila. Because when I was a teenager, I remember a lady at one of the windows here asking for (about) my mom’s jewellery. Which is the most absurd thing di ba. Grabe, alahas talaga. Pwede ba Jollibee lang?

But over the years, processes seem to be improving at least in speed. Seeing younger faces at the BI gives me some hope. The saddest thing is having young and promising government officers be influenced by the ways of old. By the stinking system of yesteryear.

Continue improving, BI Manila. 🙂

I was like, why are you so obsessed with me? LOL. Read about my ACR I-Card experiences documented in 2014, 2015, and 2016.