Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hello, Singapore!!

First of all, I'd like to thank you all for the very supportive and encouraging messages that you've expressed to me & the Gilas team. It certainly gives us motivation to compete knowing that you are all behind us and that you appreciate our efforts in trying to win for our country. But for now, let's take a break from basketball.

This entry is long overdue. But I felt that it's not too late to write something about my last two trips to Singapore since they have been quite an experience for me.

Let's talk first about my trip last July 2010. The sole purpose of this trip was to catch Jay Chou's "The Era" Concert tour. (Unfortunately, he doesn't have a significant following enough for him to come to Manila) I've been waiting to watch him perform live and this was the perfect chance since we were given a week off from Gilas training after competing in the Jones Cup in Taipei. Wait, there's a little problem though, tickets for the 'decent' seat sections were already sold out AND it would fall right smack in conflict with the Ateneo - La Salle UAAP game. But I said to myself, this would be a dream come true and a once in a lifetime experience! So i exhausted all means to find 'good seats'. And i did. I got 2 tickets about 20 rows away from the stage and i knew these were not bad at all. I was quite familiar with the Singapore Indoor Stadium because we've played against the Singapore Slingers there several times before with Gilas and previously when I played with the RP Harbour Center team which competed in the 2007 SEA games.

Anyway, i went with my cousin Les who was a big Jay fan as well. We went for 3 days and 2 nights and stayed at the Fairmont hotel because we were able to get a great deal. What got us even more excited was when one of the hotel staff revealed to us that Jay Chou was staying in the Swissotel, which was literally beside our hotel and they even had an indoor connection to get from one hotel to the other. Despite having a huge fan base in Singapore, I was surprised not to see any fan girls waiting at the lobby to catch a glimpse of Jay or to have their posters signed. Maybe its a cultural thing, Singaporeans are more behaved and they don't stalk as much we do?

That's our hotel and the Swissotel right beside it.

Check out the view from my room. You can see the majestic Marina Bay Sands and the rest of the skyline.

That's the view from my room. Apparently, they were having rehearsals for their independence day celebration that's why there were tanks. Pretty cool actually! They were firing deafening canon shots too!

Concert was amazing! Production was very extravagant with lots of laser and LED lights. Jay's performance was excellent as expected. Towards the middle of the concert, we decided to walk closer to the stage and stand along the aisle to get a better view. And to our amazement, the locals were very kind and friendly to let us through. I expected it to be much more difficult to make your way through crazy fan girls. I knew all his songs so I really enjoyed the show! In fact, I decided to watch him a second time in Malaysia! Hehe! After the concert, we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Jay leaving the hotel with his entourage. He is smaller than i thought. (Hey, for the record, we didn't stalk him ok? We were just having a few drinks at the hotel lobby when he passed by :) )

Aside from the concert, we also took time out to enjoy the city and most especially, the food! It was here where I tried my very FIRST Happy Lemon drink, at the food court of Ion mall located at the basement. My first Happy Lemon drink, Lemon Yogurt w/ Aloe! I loved it instantly! Very refreshing!

For dinner, my cousin Dexter, who was working with P&G Singapore at that time, took us to this hawker place called Melbens, which served great Singaporean Chilly crab. Not many tourists, mostly locals. Nothing too fancy. No aircon. A must-try if you want authentic Singaporean food.

For Hainanese chicken lovers, you must go to Wee Nam Kee. The place was just so packed and the queue was so long. I love Hainanese chicken! I've tried the Wee Nam Kee in Manila at the Ayala Triangle Park. Not too bad, price is reasonable as well.

We also walked around little India. And just nearby, there's this little street called Haji lane with lots of quaint shops and cafes. We grabbed some homemade ice cream in this place called Pluck. They also have some cute souvenir / specialty items, which the girls loved of course.

Of course we couldn't afford to miss the hyped-up Marina Bay Sands. Its grandeur was overwhelming! By the way, make sure to bring your passports if you want to enter the casino.

My next trip to Singapore was in April of this year for the Adidas Sports Style Fashion show. For the first time in Adidas history, the five labels under adidas Sports Style (Y3, Porsche Design Sport, SLVR, NEO, Originals), including adidas by Stella McCartney were presented on the same stage. The event was held at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza along Orchard Road. It was a regional event with the other Southeast Asian nations taking part in the show as well. Each country had 1 endorser representative, except for Singapore which had several since they were the hosts.

Believe it or not, I had to be a ramp model for a night. Not really my thing. Thanks to Adidas Philippines, I finally did my first catwalk after almost 5 years! It was a very exclusive event though, mostly for media and retail partners.

Here I am modeling the NEO line , which was a very colorful collection targeted mainly for the young ones! It was very casual and I had fun doing it! The best part was getting to meet the other endorsers like former Miss Universe Natalie Glebova (Thailand), Carmen Soo (Malaysia), Aqi of Alexa band (Indonesia) , and various Singaporean personalities. All very accomplished in their own fields!

Here's a photo of my cousin, friend and my mom who accompanied me as my chaperone. (Yeah I know, she looks like my sister alright! She gets that a lot!)

We were all checked in at the Grand Park Orchard just across the venue. Not a bad hotel too, very modern. After the event, we had an after-party at the Boathouse, just across the Fullerton hotel. Great night view of the bay and the night lights of the buildings at the background. Then, we decided to check out Kudeta, a bar by the boat-shaped structure on the roof deck of the Marina Bay Sands. The view was just beautiful! If you just want to have a chill night with a great view of the city, I suggest you check out Kudeta. If you're a hotel guest, you can also take a dip there in the infinity pool next to the lounge. Too bad I didn't get to take a photo.
That's me, Carmen, Tessa Prieto, Natalie and Bruce, a popular architect from Singapore who also did the catwalk.

Unfortunately, we had to leave for Manila first thing the following morning so I could make it on time for training, as we were in the middle of the PBA conference where Gilas joined as a guest team.

I always look forward to visiting Singapore whether for work or for vacation. There are many reasons why I love it! First, I can practice my Chinese with the locals but at the same time, they can also speak and understand English when I'm having a shortage of Chinese words. Plus, it is very convenient to get around. Aside from the excellent food, I'm really impressed with the discipline and drive of the people, its cleanliness and efficiency. I guess that's why they have become a first world 'Tiger' nation. I'm sure we Filipinos can assimilate these traits into our culture as well in order for us to move forward.

Anyway, that's it for now. Until next time, Singapore! Byebye 'La'!


P.S. Thanks to my cousin Macy for the fashion show photos! Rest of the photos were from my digicam. All photos were compressed for easy upload.