Author Archives: cinzburds

How Ensemble E-Travel Almost Ruined It

Whew!

It’s been a really long while since I last wrote something anything in my blog! In my shallow defense, Macky (my trusty Macbook) stopped working for about a  month and then internet signal was fluctuating due to the successive typhoons that hit Manila.

Lo! Got a working laptop already and internet is back to normal! So shall my blogging activities. Enough about this crap. Palawan it is.
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We went to Palawan via group deals from Ensemble E-Travel. And boy were we in for a disappointing experience. But don’t worry, the Palawan Experience was terrific, just several problems brought by the travel agency.

Beware in getting deals from this agency. All of them, including their CEO, has been known to be rude and BASTOS.

ENSEMBLE’S POOR SERVICE

1. Several months before our scheduled travel, Ensemble (“The Agency”) booked us in A&A Hotel, a city lodge/hotel, instead of Kookabura Lodge which was supposedly walking distance from the shore. This was five months before our trip, how could have it been fully booked then? But, giving them the benefit of the doubt, we agreed PROVIDED that they gave us the a room with the same price.

2. Promo hotel < Originally included Hotel

The declared value of our room in Kookabura was around 1500PHP and we were expecting the same room value in A&A Plaza hotel. However, when we checked in, we were assigned to a promo room – no windows, 2 single beds (and the deal was titled romantic getaway) and we eventually learned that the room rented for 599PHP per night. What a cheapskate right? We talked to the front desk officer named Princess and she told us she would try to get us a queen sized bed. After several minutes, she called back and said there no available rooms. We complained about this but she said that Ensemble was the one who picked the room, not them and they are only authorized to carry out what was previously agreed upon. Boohoo.

3. Honda Bay Island Hopping fiasco

On the second day of the trip, the schedule said Honda Bay Island Hopping. We waited for the van to fill up with people. The driver said “6 tayo lahat” (We’re 6 all in all). Knowing that we were the first ones their, we headed back to the buffet to eat some more. When we thought that we were the ones being waited on, we went back to the van. The driver now said “9 pala tayo” (We’re 9 now). Surprised but curious we waited in the van. Then, the last upgrade – “12 pala tayo lahat (There will be 12 of us)”.

The questions we had in mind were: 1) did we bring enough stuff to accomodate 12, 2) did we have enough food to cater the 6 additional pax, 3) was the trip going to be overcrowded? Fortunately, Manong (our tour guide) was kind and caring enough so the Island Hopping turned out well. But, what we didn’t know was that Manong wasn’t even supposed to come. His duties ended with providing transpo and getting us a bangka (boat). Just imagine if he had not had the kind heart to assist us. Then we’d really lose it with this Ensemble agency.

While in Honda Bay, we learned that Ensemble f*cked up not only our arrangements but all the other sub-groups in our Island Hopping escapade. The other group of girls were being threatened by Ensemble that they’d cancel the island hopping if they really wanted to go on a separate underground river tour. What’s that about? Then there was this family that had to pay extra 900 per head for the airfare because they couldn’t find a trip on a Cebu Pacific plane on the dates the family wanted to go so they booked a more expensive flight. That’s not the family’s problem if I’m not mistaken.

Over-all it was a PISS-POOR SERVICE from Ensemble E-Travel. Their representatives do not have an ounce of ownership to their work and their hotlines do not work. They are such a bad travel agency.

Though cheap, always think about the quality of your trip and make sure to be makulit and always on top of the details of your travel.

 

Ensemble E-Travel

http://www.ensemble-etravel.com/

 

Here are some related posts from other bloggers:

http://mysweetscape.net/group-buying-sites/ensemble-e-travel-deals-on-group-buying-websites/

http://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/forum/index.php?topic=36664.0

http://violetlucasi.com/2011/08/14/ensemble-e-travel-complaint-on-process/

 

 

 

 

 

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Social Media Is Not the Answer

The high penetration of Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter among Filipinos have caused a ground-shaking shift among companies and their traditional marketing strategies. Just this week, I happened to witness several of these paradigm shifts among brands.

 

THEY ALL THINK SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE ANSWER. Sorry folks, it’s not.

Many company executives and brand managers think that if they put their brand on the internet, be it on Facebook or Twitter, it’ll generate online buzz and interest for them. I guess by now you’ve learned this is not true after your lackluster page has only 500 likes after 2 months and several thousand pesos on promos and giveaways.

The real key is still how you use it. SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE TOOL FOR YOUR ANSWERS.

What this means is that Social Media is only the vessel or tool that is available to you once you’ve ALREADY identified the answer to your problem.

Is your brand lacking in brand awareness? Social media is not the answer. The answer is increasing brand awareness through effective communication plans. One tool that could help you achieve this is Social media.

Is your product unavailable to your customers? The answer is not Social Media but instead increasing customer channels for product distribution. Again, the internet particularly social media, can help your customers locate your stores or even facilitate online purchases.

Many brand executives think that by having these SM accounts, they’ve got social media covered already. Sorry to have to break it to you but it’s not. Being present is just one step in the marathon, sister.

You can’t just pay Facebook for online advertising and report to operations that “hey, my page has 1,000,000 likes”. What does your 1M likes mean when none of them contribute to your page or say a word about your brand. Social media is just high-tech word-of-mouth. You still have to consider that Content Is King. At the end of the day, what you do with what they have to say about what you said or is saying or doing is still the end-goal.

Companies who think they’re ready for the digital shift can’t say so unless they complete understand the framework (or lack thereof) of Social Media. With Social Media, you can park your Marketing 101 lessons and really go for user experience, sharing, word-of-mouth in a more cost-effective manner that we are all used to. Until companies can say that “a significant amount of our resources should go into developing our social media strategy” instead of just creating SM accounts, shall they can call themselves “aware” of what social media is.

 

Sorry for the verbal diarrhea this late at night. A sudden stream of thoughts just came to me and had to find a way to write them down. For more coherent and logical posts relating to Social Media as a brand tool, let me get back to you on that in the morning. Good night!

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Thou Shall Not throw “The Finger”

When you have a clear window car, that is.

This morning, in my jolly happy vibe, I got sandwiched in the bus lane in EDSA near Ayala flyover. I tried to move to the next lane to avoid the buses and behold, the champagne-colored Toyota Fortuner with Plate ZEA652 cut me off – complete with the stare down and the second look. To my violent reflexes, I threw “the” finger inside my car. To me, throwing and flashing “the” finger is as common as it gets in EDSA with the Image from cheapsignals.blogspot.comproliferation of dumb drivers not to mention drunk and stoned bus drivers. So in my head, this was just another flashed finger in the lot.

And that’s where things got pretty bad.

The driver/owner (but I put my money on owner since he’s clad in denim jeans, and USA T-shirt – balikbayan I guessed) stopped in the middle of the road, got out and cursed me and the whole 9-yards of abrasive Pinoy words and threats.

I didn’t apologize and instead told him off. I even waved good-bye (of course to irritate him more). I truly felt sorry that it pissed him to that point but the barrage of curses and threats afterwards seemed unnecessary already.

Luckily, he wasn’t a Congressman like Rep. Pangandaman or some high-riding police or drunk PSG, I might’ve gotten shot. Thing is Erica was with me in the car. This is a first for me.

Lesson learned: Tint your cars.

Photo from Spot.ph

The famous Duterte Finger in Play Photo from Spot.ph

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From the Stove: Dory & Potatoes in Coconut Pineapple Cream sauce

Dory and Potatoes in Coconut Pineapple Cream Sauce

Dory and Potatoes in Coconut Pineapple cream sauce

 

Another night of dish experimentation!

Ingredients: Dory (crusted and seared), coconut milk powder, hot water, all purpose cream, pineapple juice, onion leeks, salt and pepper.

It’s pretty tricky to make but the sauce is really the key here. Just combine coconut milk, hot water, pineapple juice, nestle cream, salt and pepper, onion leeks. Season to taste.

Erica super enjoyed this dish even finishing the leftover sauce on my plate!

Erica enjoying this dish a lot!

Hot Choco Ko

Napakasarap ng Hot Chocolate na ito kaninang umaga. Salamat, Jollibee.

From the Stove: Eggplant Parmigiano


This is my shortcut version of Eggplant Parmigiano. I saw it on Bobby Flay’s show “Throwdown” and I decided I was gonna put my take on it on a condo set-up small incomplete kitchen.

You can find many versions of this dish but here’s mine.

Ingredients

Eggplant – Long elongated ones commonly available from the market

Flour, Egg, Salt, Pepper, Bread crumbs

Tomato sauce, tomato paste, bell pepper, onions, garlic, tomatoes (all diced) and ground beef

Oil and Cheese (you can use parmesan, mozarella, or just Quikmelt)

1. I started by prepping the eggplant. Slided it in the longest, flatest possible way to layer them like lasagna noodles later on. After I’ve sliced about 4 eggplants (amount i used in this dish), I started coating them with the egg, then flour with salt and pepper, and then with bread crumbs.

2. After this, I fried them in oil until they were crispy and golden in color.

3. When done, I laid them on a bed of tissue so that oil can be absorbed.

4. On to the sauce. I sauteed onion garlic bell peppers and the beef. When the beef has almost cooked, i put it the tomato paste and the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. I even put a bit of chili powder to give it a kick.

5.  Leave it to simmer for about 10 minutes.

6. Layer the egg plant like lasagna noodles. then sauce and then cheese. do this until you fill your baking dish. Throw into the oven for another 10 minutes or so just so you can melt the cheese and thoroughly cook the dish.

I don’t have any pretty baking dish or plates so sorry for the look. On the picture, you can see there a slice of the eggplant i fried. This meal was enjoyed by me and Erica over a glass of red wine. So delicious. It was peppery, spicy, meaty (eggplant was like meat!) and italian-y delicious.

I’m really gonna do this on our kitchen back in ‘Gapo. 🙂

Office Gossip 101

I’m still in the office because I came in later than usual. Given the privilege of flexitime – I have enough time to write this as I while away the minutes.

In the place I work, office gossip is deeply ingrained in the culture. Not to say that it is always negative and detrimental, but it does exist. Sometimes, we gossip jokes, funny lines and funny stories. And then some not so funny.

So I decided to write this very short Office Gossip 101 I put together for the past 1.5 years of my corporate slavery.

1. Don’t start the gossip. – If you really have to say something, make sure you ain’t starting it. You down want to be the seed of doom, do you?
2. Never outright mention that you know a gossip. Just say you heard something like… – In this way, you will never be accused of what is officially known in our discipline handbook as “Rumor Mongering” haha.
3. Make sure that you tell your gossip to someone who feels the same way – The most common mistake in Office Gossip is that you don’t even know the opinion of the B person about the C person you are gossiping about and you go on blabbering. Then boom. You are screwed.
4. Make sure you are NOT heard – this is so obvious that explaining it is embarrassing to you.
5. Less talk, less charges. Know the saying “Less talk, less mistake” ? well same case here. The less you blabber, the less people have against you. So say your piece once and then stop. Let the natural rumor mongering instinct of our kind due the rest of the work.

More importantly, DON’T RUMOR MONGER ANYONE AND ANYTHING. It’s disrespecting to that person and more importantly, to the human intellect. If this is your habit, stop because you might just be a waste of matter.

My New Old Bag

Because I enjoy dressing differently from the rest of the slaves here in the office, I recently moved my planner, docs and gadgets to a new old-bag that I unearthed in our home in Olongapo.

Here’s a pic of the bag.

C360_2011-06-17 17-25-07

Embosed with the emblem LV in the lower right corner of each side, zipper embossed with LV, interior cream leather, it was said that this bag was released about 10-15 years ago – pretty old I think.

But I love bringing it to office. The sleek black look indication of Corporate yet the chic that it brings by not being the usual brief case.

Perfect!

June 16 – the day that was yesterday

Today, on the 16th of June, year of the Lord 2011, I announce the rebirth of my blog. Follow me too on Twitter @cinzburds. Or visit my Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cinzburds . I’m also happy to announce that me and Erica have been able to patiently understand each other for 44 months now. I love you!

There!

In other news,

TODAY tomorrow in America, is the 100th year of IBM. In June 16, 1911 – IBM was founded as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in Endicott, New York. I guess that’s happy 100 years to you.

How weird is it that in the day IBM was founded,  Oracle was also incorporated. Who thinks that is a coincidence?!

In the same day of that year, our friends from the green side of the court founded the De La Salle University in the Philippines. Happy 100 years to you, too! I hear Green Lantern attended the Century celebration by opening in theaters here.

 

Pre-Summer Entry

What a lame-ass blog title.

That’s because my brain is too dried up to even think of a creative, unique title.

The solution: GO TO THE BEACH!

When I was much younger, my family and I went to the beach about 6 t0 8 times a year. Which led my dad to buy a beach front property in San Narciso, Zambales. That’s one town away from the popular Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales. Moreover, my family is a family of Scuba divers, so, yeah we have a “beach” and I’m a very big beach junkie, so to speak.

But ever since I started college, being in Manila 8 times a week – yes, you read that 8 right – coming back to our beach house has been impossible. Since college, I’ve only been there thrice: once with just Erica, once with my Coursemates, once with my fellow Management Trainees. So much use for all that expense it keeping the house.

It’s not like I’ve lost interest in the beach.

Heck, we went to Puerto Galera for my Graduation break.

DSC_0291

Heck, Erica and I went to Boracay for my birthday.

IMG_0374

Heck, I am so excited to go the beach this 2011 – Summer or Not.

My love bought us tickets to Puerto Princesa this year. Dates still to be arranged. Me and my office pals are going back to Boracay this July. And, most importantly, I want to go back to my roots – visit the beach havens around Zambales that are almost cheap.

So, in my inspiration and excitement, I decided to post some information on the beaches I will must go to this year.

1. Puerto Princesa

2. Boracay

3. San Narciso, Zambales

4. Anawangin Cove, San Antonio, Zambales

5. Capones Island, San Antonio, Zambales

THERE! Whew! I really do hope I can visit all of them this year! All it takes is a little money and a lot of willingness.

Remember, discover your own backyard before discovering the backyard of others. Is that even the correct proverb? Haha. ‘Til next time, tata!

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Pictures of the 5 target destinations are from Google. Credits to whoever took them. 🙂