September 25, 2009
Ample space at the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention 2009 held at Suntec City. Pwedeng tumambling. Okay, maybe not.

Ample space at the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention 2009 held at Suntec City. Pwedeng tumambling. Okay, maybe not.

Comments (View)

Space, glorious space

The first thing I noticed when I entered the convention hall was the generous amount of space. The event was held at Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre’s Halls 401 and 402. The area kinda reminded me of our convention center at the World Trade Center in Manila. It was certainly smaller than the Moscone Center in San Francisco but was definitely a behemoth compared to the can-of-sardines Megatrade Hall at SM Megamall where we usually hold our own local comic con.

What I liked about the floor plan were the pedestrian-friendly aisles in between booths. These provided ample space not only for curious passers-by but also for those who loitered around, like stubborn mules firmly planted in the middle of the road. Of course, at WonderCon ample space was an understatement but sufficient breathing space at STGCC was certainly a pleasant surprise. Unlike during our conventions in Manila where our fire marshals (Do we even have these?) struggle with having nightmares and where our physicists boggle at the occurrence of how two separate bodies can occupy the same space at the same time - with all those people crammed in such tiny confinements. Hand to crotch and face to armpit action. Haay, kaka-miss ang ToyCon natin.

Comments (View)
September 15, 2009
Singapore Toys, Games & Comic Convention 2009 at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Singapore Toys, Games & Comic Convention 2009 at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Comments (View)

STGCC 2009 postmortem

This has got to be the tardiest account of STGCC 2009. Well, what can you do?

Last August 14-16, the SIngapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention 2009 was held at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. It was their second time to host such an event. The press releases claimed that they were the biggest and best pop-culture fest of toys, comics, gaming, and animation in Southeast Asia. Some even trumpeted the convention as the region’s one and only. While I do agree that the STGCC is the biggest and definitely the most-organized in this little corner of Asia, I would have to raise my hand in protest about their last sweeping statement. The Philippines has been hosting a number of toys and comic book conventions long before any of our other Southeast Asian neighbor. Ours may not be as well-publicized internationally or as organized or as well-supported by our government, but still, we were first. So there.

Upon entering the convention hall, I was greeted by the STGCC logo. The cute Rubik’s Cube wannabe character set on the familiar red background. It’s clean and sterile. And quite effective in promoting the event as a brand. We don’t have this sort of marketing. Or maybe we do, but I just don’t see it. All big pop-culture conventions such as WonderCon and San Diego Comic Con have familiar logos. Sa Pinas, we just put up posters with various characters and toy figures splattered everywhere. Ang gulo. Paging Filipino organizers, take a hint.

Comments (View)
September 9, 2009

Food for thought. I rarely think of how food gets to my table. I don’t really care just as long as I get my meal. But this has made me think. Even for just a second. Before I bite into my fried chicken.

Comments (View)

Food for thought

PLEASE READ THIS. If you’re the type who just skips my tumble posts and just looks at the pictures, please stop for a moment and read this.

Although it may be hard to believe, seeing that most of my posts seem to revolve around food, and people who know me know how passionate I am when it comes to eating, I have been thinking recently about changing this aspect of my life. I’ve been thinking of becoming a vegetarian or a vegan.

Stop laughing. I’m serious. I think.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably saying, “what the hell is Toto thinking?” I mean, if anything, it’ll be good for my health, right? But I know it won’t be easy saying goodbye to steak, roast chicken, burgers, and pork barbecue. And bacon, sweet sweet bacon. But part of me is really trying to discern if I can make that switch. It may not be happen immediately or completely. Or soon. It may not even happen at all. All I’m saying is that I’m thinking about it.

Recently, I saw a video that I want to share with you, my friends. Because I know you are like me. We eat what we want and we rarely think about how the food gets to our table. We don’t really care as long as we get them in neat little sterilized packages, right? I am not looking for answers here. Like me, you’ll eventually go get fried chicken after watching this. Like me, you’ll soon forget about this video.

But no matter where you fall on the meat-eating spectrum, watch this and tell me if there’s something wrong with how we get things done or how we are set in our ways.

Comments (View)
The bomb shelter inside my sister’s Singaporean flat. Just in case they need one. Knock on wood.

The bomb shelter inside my sister’s Singaporean flat. Just in case they need one. Knock on wood.

Comments (View)

Just in case

Right beside the kitchen and adjacent to the dining area of Ate and Carlos’ flat is a small room that they have converted into a mini bodega/pantry/stockroom. Hidden behind a sliding curtain, this small confined space is different from the rest of the rooms at the apartment. It has a thick iron door and massive lever-type door knobs that remind me of bank vaults, although it is less thick than those found in those tightly guarded institutions. On top of the doorway is a circular vent with steel covers. Also, the walls of the room seem thick and formidable.

"That’s a bomb shelter," Ate explained.

Singapore’s Civil Defence Shelter Act of 1997 (yes, “Defence” is spelled with a C, British nga diba) required developers to incorporate shelters in all new residential housing developments. They probably learned their lesson when the Japanese invaded the island state during World War 2. Even their underground MRT stations can be converted into huge bomb shelters.

Leave it up to the government of Singapore to plan ahead. I looked at the bomb shelter and thought, in this day and age of international cooperation and diplomacy, is this structure really necessary? I didn’t know if I would admire their foresight and preparations or scoff at their obsessive-compulsive anal nature. As I shook my head and closed the iron door behind me, I suddenly realized this is one of the reasons why they’re Singaporeans and I’m Filipino.

Comments (View)
September 8, 2009
Pepsi Shiso bought from Meidi-Ya Japanese Supermarket in Singapore. For those who like drinking mouthwash.

Pepsi Shiso bought from Meidi-Ya Japanese Supermarket in Singapore. For those who like drinking mouthwash.

Comments (View)

Pepsi Shiso

I then went with Carlos and Ate to the beverage aisle because my brother-in-law wanted to buy beer. He was looking at the different Japanese and international brands when a bright green bottle caught my attention. The label on it was written in Nippongo and the only words that I could discern were “Pepsi”, “Shiso” and “Japanese refreshing flavor”. I heard about weird flavors of familiar brands found only in Japan. Examples include Pepsi Ice Cucumber and Kit Kat Banana. So when I saw Pepsi Shiso, I knew I just had to try it.

Not knowing what Shiso was, I then relied on trusty Google. It turns out, shiso is a perilla variant. It is also called the purple mint or the Japanese basil. So with that in mind, I placed the green bottle inside the freezer and anticipated the chance of tasting something new.

How was it? Well, when you first take a sip, it initially tastes like mouthwash with a tinge of basil. It takes a little bit of getting used to but I could see why Japanese people consider it refreshing. And as you drink more of it, the taste turns into this minty bubble gum flavor reminiscent of Bubble Yum. Weird ba?

Comments (View)
Why, Hello Panda. Happiness found at the Meidi-Ya Japanese Supermarket in Singapore.

Why, Hello Panda. Happiness found at the Meidi-Ya Japanese Supermarket in Singapore.

Comments (View)

Why, Hello Panda.

I then went back to the candy section where I bumped into Ate and Carlos. They were looking for coffee and beer. We were on our way to the beverage aisle when I saw something familiar - Hello Panda! I love this snack and it always reminds me of simpler times when we were kids. We used to buy this a lot and my younger sister was even addicted to it. How can you not be?

Just thinking about it makes me salivate. The round crispy cookie with the cute little pandas stamped on their surfaces. And when you bite into one, it releases this chocolate semi-solid cream that is similar in texture and taste to that of Yan Yan’s. Remember that? Aww, grade school cafeteria memories. Sigh.

Anyways, what surprised me was the size of the containers. These Hello Panda boxes were huge! Some even came in cylindrical canisters. I quickly grabbed one and begged Ate if I could bring home this chocolate ursine. Luckily, she agreed. I got home and opened the box, half expecting giant Hello Panda cookies. Disappointingly, inside were just numerous foil packs similar to those found in the regular small packages. Aww. Still, me happy. Hello Hello Panda!

Comments (View)
Cold tofu bath at Meidi-Ya Japanese Supermarket in Singapore. Chilling out before jumping into the fire and eventually into my stomach.

Cold tofu bath at Meidi-Ya Japanese Supermarket in Singapore. Chilling out before jumping into the fire and eventually into my stomach.

Comments (View)

Tofu bath

Near the milk section of the Meidi-Ya Japanese Supermarket were these glass boxes with tofu packages inside them. These seemed like those aquariums in Chinese restaurants but instead of having live seafood these had tofu in them. They were tiered in a step-like manner, with cold water overflowing from the topmost glass box down into the other glass containers. I was intrigued by this and asked a Malay salesperson about this set-up. She couldn’t really answer my question so I just took a picture and went my merry way.

Googling, I found out that the Japanese people like storing their tofu in cold water. There’s actually a Japanese dish called hiyayakko which means “cold tofu”. And there are a number of ways of making tofu cold but they prefer letting it chill naturally in cold water. I was looking at the tofu bath with absolute wonder, like a kid inside an aquatic pet shop. I couldn’t stop staring at the tofu trays, neatly arranged in their glass boxes, and submerged in flowing ice-cold water. I then remembered the fried tofu dish at Lan Zhou La Mian and gave out a longing sigh. Haay.

I couldn’t believe I could be mesmerized by coagulated or curdled soy milk.

Comments (View)