Thursday, May 28, 2009

Paris and Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg - Part 2

After arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris at 755pm, I headed straight to arrival area where my French driver was waiting. Or should I say, I waited for him for another 10 minutes. His excuse was that I was early.

Paris at this time was still bright and sunny. And chilly. The air was crisp and the sky was a clear blue.

From the CDG Airport to the hotel was a 20 minute ride.

For the next 7 days, Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg would be home to me for awhile. The plush duvet beddings and the "Made in Heaven" beds were a comfort to this 15-20 sqm room (which is considerably a large one for Paris standards), and had bathrobes, slippers, in-room safe, a mini-bar, flat screen TV, work desk and restful sofas. The high ceilings and ornate paintings in the room added a touch of Parisian culture to the modern backdrop of the hotel. The small foyer led to a large clothes cabinet which was fronted by a small but well equipped bathroom with Hermes amenities.

Breakfast at the hotel was 32E each day, It was simple buffet breakfast which gave you a choice of 3 or 4 meats, some eggs (cooked anyway you wanted), a garden salad, a variety of REAL FRESHLY SQUEEZED juices, fresh fruits (from strawberries, red cherries, melons, mandarin oranges and pineapples), a variety of breads and cakes (so patisserie of the French), assorted cheeses, assorted cereals and a whole big brew of coffee and/or tea.

The hotel is situated right at the heart of La Place de Concorde (beside the fabulous Hotel Crillon) and right smack corner of the U.S. Embassy. This made the place really safe with all the gendarmes on both the left and right side of the hotel entrance.

The concierge was most graceful, particularly in getting me from point A to point B, in suggesting which transportation to take, and in getting me reservations for Moulin Rouge at such short notice.

And it did feel like home...for awhile...shouldn't all hotels be?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Charice...and destiny

I believe in destiny.

While there are those that believe that only we can etch our lives, that, is only part of the equation. While we make decisions that provide certain paths in our lives, destiny plays a large, if not larger role in what comes our way.

Charice Pempengco, otherwise known as Charice, has her own story to tell. Like Manny Pacquiao who rose from nothing, Charice deserves all the accolade she is basking in now. Our lives are intertwined in heaven, purgatory and hell. Her journey from hell to heaven is a story in itself.

Click on the link below (or copy and paste it) and watch what I mean...I believe in destiny. How about you?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Paris and Qatar Airlines (Part 1)

Vacations should always be fun. My trip to Paris was anticipated and I was looking for this respite from all the work and pressures at work.

They say that one should not spend excessively on airfare because the money you save can be spent on shopping. I disagree. Half the fun of a vacation is being pampered to the bones. That means that flying for 19 hours should always be on Business or First Class.

The flight from Manila to Paris took me to Doha, Qatar, as my first stop for the first leg of my flight. I left Manila at 6:55am and arrived in Doha at around 1pm for a mandatory 2 1/2 hrs stopover. The Premium Terminal, reserved for First and Business Class was a seriously dedicated terminal for passengers who wanted a little more than pampering. If you flew on First Class, a BMW would pick you up from the landing area. Business Class passengers, however, were spirited off on a bus that was reserved only for them to the spanking dedicated terminal.

The flat bed and Oryx Multiplex cinema that had over 100 movies, 100 TV shows, on demand games, and music was something that made the trip relaxing. Amenities included pajamas, slip on socks, blinders, and toiletries from Aigner.

The food was a five course meal, with Indulgence snacks being served in between the flight. The crew was friendly and nice.

Upon landing at Doha, in spite of the 37C temperature, the Premium Terminal was clean and modern. Food and wine was overflowing.

Deplaning and boarding was a bus gate. All planes were bus gates. This meant that you landed in the middle of the airport, with the heat at 37-38C, you had to carry your carry-on luggage to the bus that was waiting for you at the foot of the plane, go into the terminal and lug it back to another bus that took you to your connecting flight which was parked right in the heat of the Middle Eastern dessert. And for the next 25 minutes or so, we were baking in the sun on the plane.

But every up side has a down side. On my flight from Doha to Paris, the computer of the in-flight service shut down. It meant that for awhile there was not entertainment, and the seat were all jammed. NO reclining and no reading light. Which was the opposite on the return flight from Doha to Paris. Of all the 24 business class seats, I had to pick one where the reading lights refused to get shut off. And when we landed in Doha from Paris, the parking gates of all Qatar flights were in the middle of the airport! The bus gate took us about 20 minutes from the airplane to the terminal. And this time around, we were all dumped in the main terminal where we were mixed with the coach travelers. The queue to my next flight to Manila was horrible, because this time, I had to mix with the coach travelers. I asked the attendant from the Business Class lounge why we were dumped in the main airport and he replied that if I wanted to go to the Premium Terminal, I had to go down to gate 1 and be transferred back to the Premium Terminal. So much for their Premium Terminal.

The flight back to Manila from Doha was on a 777-300ER, which meant that the plane was spanking new and the videos were all touch screen!

Overall, Qatar Air should be given three stars (out of a possible five) for their mediocre ground service, but five stars for the in flight service and entertainment.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Aling Dionisia

May 10, 2009 is Mother's Day.

I blogged about my mom whom I fondly call Inang last year.

This morning, after greeting Inang a Happy Mother's Day, I chanced upon an article on the Philippine Star featuring Mrs. Dionisia Dapidran, mother of boxing icon Manny 'Pacman' Pacquiao.

The featured article told of the very humble beginning of Manny's mom, better known as Aling Dionisia.

She had two children with her first husband who abandoned their family. Later, she married Manny's father. After having 4 more children with him, he abandoned the family as well. Aling Dionisia knew poverty like many Filipinos who strive to make ends meet and 6 mouths to feed and had to shelter them. She sold fish crackers, did odd jobs to put on the table and as the oldest boy, Manny did his share - selling cigarettes, bread, iced water and doing laundry.

The family was so poor that they slept on cardboard boxes in their shanty. Deeply religious, Aling Dionisia put her who fate and faith in God. The woman's faith never waivered, as she asked that God somehow provides a better fate for her children.

In 1994, Manny left General Santos on a slow boat for Manila. He started off as an amateur fighter known as Kid Kulafu. In his early boxing years, he augmented his income by working as a gardener, carpenter, and was paid P200 to accompany basketball star Asi Taulava jogging around the Cultural Complex in Pasay City. All the money he earned, he sent home to Aling Dionisia.

That was yesterday. The rest is history...

Today, Manny Pacquiao is a self made superstar. His humble beginnings and the amazing journey of his life is inspired by a woman who did not waver in spite of the hardship that befell her. Unlike others who strike it rich by winning the lotto, Aling Dionisia is rewarded with her children's success. To her, that is what matters most and she is doubly blessed with not being selfish. Her stellar role as a mother comes most inspiring, particularly on occasions like this.

Incidentally, Aling Dionisia celebrates her 60th birthday - with a bash - on the 15th of May!

The other day, I received a text message that went like this:

"Si Pacquiao ay magiting na mandirigma. Send this to 50 people or magiging kamukha mo si Aling Dionesia...Madami and dumedma dito at nagsisi."

I thought it was nasty joke. I have two words for those that spread this text message - MGA INGGITERA!!!!

Happy mom's day to all!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Influenza A H1N1

That's the official name of the virus that's been causing a lot of concern for health and government authorities worldwide.

The official comment of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control as of today is:

5 May 2009 -- As of 16:00 GMT, 5 May 2009, 23 countries have officially reported 1490 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection.

Mexico has reported 822 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 29 deaths. The United States has reported 403 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death.

The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (140), China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (2), France (4), Germany (9), Ireland (1), Israel (4), Italy (5), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (6), Portugal (1), Republic of Korea (2), Spain (57), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (27).

Now that I have officially updated the report, everyone should simply log in to their websites in order to get updated.

I am peeved with the fact that I am being barraged by patients on the "gravity" of the situation. For the record, while I am pleased that many health and government authorities are showing concern in order to contain this problem so that it does not turn into a pandemic, I am disappointed with the way media has been handling this scenario by turning it into a circus.

More children and people die from Tuberculosis in this country and in most developing countries each day. More people die from the complications of seasonal flu in the Philippines annually. But did media put up a hype regarding these statistics? Nope. It's not worth the story. And the knee jerk reaction of media has put everyone, including brainless heads of government in a frenzy mode! They have paved the way for pandemonium to strike.

I am not undermining the ability of the H1N1 virus to turn into a pandemic. As a health care provider, I am more concerned with what is currently the problem in this country.

I had a patient the other day asking if Bioflu was alright for the H1N1 virus. Duhhh!!?!?! and super-Duh!!?!?!?! Mars calling Earthling! She watches too much telenovelas and is being dragged to becoming next to dumb and dumber. I also had another mother asking if Ceelin was good for preventing flu. I asked her where she picked up that information and she said the ad was all over the radio.

Case in point is how the public can get easily swayed by media - whether it is sensationalism or it is endorsement through false advertising, I do not know where the Advertising Board of the Philippines is emanating from allowing these looney bins to put up advertisements that are capitalizing on fear and panic of this nation of idiots.

There are more deaths in Mindanao each day, more people dying because of cardiovascular disease complications, more morbidity and mortality from road accidents because of public transportation that is depressingly irrelevant in this country, and the government is spending so much money on knee-jerk reactions while the businessmen are capitalizing on the gullibility of the people.

Last Sunday, during mass, the sermon was replaced by a letter from the Archdiocese calling for moral change. This moral revolution was another oxymoronic advice from prelates who need the moral revolution from within the church and translated to those big businessmen who capitalize on the poor. I cannot fault the Arroyo administration for being what it is today - the face of graft and corruption. But the pointing arm of the Church in the letter just shows you where this nation is going to...the dogs.

What has transpired in this nation since my last blog on Swine Flu has been a scenario of panic, fear and disinformation on a minute virus.

It's funny because this virus which is preventable with good hygiene and better science seems to have the edge over the human beings in this world.

Virus rules!!!!