“Meeting Tracer Tong”; My Trip to Hong Kong

My sister invited me to attend a medical convention with her as to keep her company and support her as she had a poster case presentation from November 24-27.

At first, I wasn’t really into the idea of going, but after her persuasion, along with my parents coercion, and the fact I get to meet 2 of my friends who live there, made me decide to go with her.

Day One



“Meeting Tracer Tong”

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Meeting Tracer Tong is a reference to one of my all time favorite PC games ever, Deus Ex. In there, there is a level in Hong Kong, specifically in Wan Chai streets, where one of the most iconic background music (in my opinion) plays as you find a character named Tracer Tong.

It so happened that the medical convention, the 11th Echo Hong Kong, was being held in Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is in Wan Chai, I couldn’t help but play “The Synapse” (the Hong Kong level background music in Deus Ex) on repeat while I was there.

Like my trip to Singapore alone last September (I also went to Singapore last March with company) I have always been ignored when it comes to “timing”; by this I mean, I was always told to leave the house for the airport way to early. I know that counters usually open 2-3 hours before the scheduled flight, and I do take into account the possible traffic and such, so I could usually calculate the best possible time including all the hindrances that can come from the travel to the airport. Alas, nope, we left the house at 7AM from Pampanga to the airport in Manila.

Now our flight is 2:20PM, take into the regular time it takes to make it to the airport which 2 hours, with a possible hour of traffic, we will be arriving at the airport at 10AM, for which we did, and had at least another hour of waiting before the counter to be opened for our flight… for which we did.

After all is said and done, I have always had something bad to say about Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the lack of efficiency and such, but that was in Terminal 3 that I was already complaining about, yet boy oh boy, Terminal 2 is a different beast altogether.

Lack of seats while waiting for a flight, only ONE opened public restroom at the time, lack of proper dissemination of information regarding changes in flights or gates (I know, I know, I traveled quite a lot when I was younger and more recently, so I know flights and gates are subject to change, but the lack of announcement thru PA or a sign showing there is a change, heck even a change in the monitor, can confuse those first timers who are traveling alone – doubt my sister would have noticed this if she traveled alone), and I can go on and on, but hey, let us save that for another post.

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Needless to say, we got on our flight, but didn’t take off until an hour and thirty minutes after stepping on board… another thing that ticked me off.

Anyways, overall, the flight in Philippine Airlines was fun, could have been better, but we got to Hong Kong safely, and that is all that matters.

Sixteen Degrees Celsius

My friend who lives and works in Shenzen tagged me in a post in Facebook showing the weather is quite cold; as low as 16 degrees Celsius she mentions. At first, I was like, darn it, time to pack in some thick jackets to keep me warm and stuff. Upon arrival and exit from the Hong Kong International Airport, I will admit, it was cold and had to put my jacket on, but after awhile, it reminded me of a regular day in America. It didn’t take me long to adapt to the weather and remove my jacket altogether.

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Finally got to play this officially!

The taxi fare from the airport to our hotel near the convention center in Wan Chai cost us like 50 bucks; it was nearly an hour’s travel from the airport to the hotel, so it wasn’t really that surprising, but nonetheless, still surprising.

Upon checking in, I got to meet up with my good friend, Roberto, whom I first met last September in Singapore during the Formula One race there… he decided to show us  around a bit and take us out to dinner.

Turning Chinese

After a brief tour around our block in Wan Chai and pointing us towards the convention center, he took us out to a nearby restaurant to try the local cuisine; not Chinese food is worldwide, you will always find a restaurant serving such dishes, but to try the AUTHENTIC food is really quite the feast.

We got to catch up, talk about Formula One, and get to talk about our personal lives more. Sadly, since me and my sister had a convention to attend to and Roberto had a flight to catch the next morning, we didn’t really spend the whole night hanging out.

But that is alright, as this proves that Formula One brings different people together, surely, in the future, be it in the States or here in the Philippines, dinner will be on me, Roberto! And we will hang out much longer then.

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Percolate the Mind

After having a delicious dinner courtesy of Roberto, my sister wanted coffee and thankfully, there is a nearby Starbucks right in front of our hotel and we got there for a couple of nice warm coffee; I was already editing some pictures we took with Roberto, and my sister was studying for her poster presentation on Sunday, which is 2 days from that point.

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It is known that there is a delay in my posting of photos since I started my hobby in photography in 2010, so my sister usually reminds me to post, and thank goodness, otherwise no one will see these pics for another week.

Thus, Day 1 ended, and onward to Day 2…

Day Two



Convention Day

This is considered the convention day for me and my sister; we got to the convention center early to prepare her poster and listen to a number of lectures.

The lectures reminded me that I still have a soft spot for my first love in medicine: Cardiology.

My sister took up Cardiology which was her second choice for subspecialization, where Neurology was her first love; my first love was Cardiology and my second is Neurology. As fate would have it, since she is like 7 years older than me, she got to study and train in medicine earlier than me, so she gets to choose her subspecialization first, naturally. She chose Cardiology.

I then targeted Neurology thinking I will still be ultimately training and practicing here in the Philippines, and it would be a nice tandem to have different fields of expertise than being both Cardiologists.

However, I decided to move back to the States, hoping to pass the USMLE for my license there. Now, knowing that, I can go back to Cardiology as my subspecialization, but I already love the thought of being a Neurologist. That still doesn’t stop me from enjoying the lectures as Cardiology was my first love.

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Exploration

After listening to a few lectures, we decided to head back to the hotel to take a nap and such, then explore once again, the nearby areas. This was also a good opportunity to take shots of ourselves using my new Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 lens that I recently got with the thought of using it for future photo projects and future Formula One races.

The Calm Before the Storm

Back in the hotel, my sister is hard at work studying for her presentation, whereas I was hard at work editing the photos earlier in the day and making sure our hotel room doesn’t end up too messy; my sister does not have obsessive compulsive personality disorder (there is a big difference between Obsessive Compulsive Disorder vs Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder… look it up), thus I like keeping things neat and orderly.

Knowing full well we need not wake up early the next day as her presentation is in the afternoon, I slept like a log. This was important as I was meeting one of my great college friends and a friend whom I consider very close, Amanda, right after the presentation. So I need to save up energy for that evening’s exploration and hang out.

Right Here, Waiting Smile, Sister
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Day Three


Meeting Amanda

Day Three, which is Day Two of the convention for us, went by without a hitch; my sister successfully presented her case and poster, and all the stress she had going in is finally gone, and all she can think about is shopping.

Thankfully, Amanda took that into account, so as we met up, she took us to an area where my sister can shop.

After a few strolling around together as a group, my sister wanted to shop more than have dinner, so she went shopping on her own, and Amanda and I had dinner and subsequently strolled the area some more.

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Falling in Love with Photography All Over Again

Amanda and I then strolled around the city and occasionally entered shops to, well what else? Shop. Along the way, laughing and enjoying every bit just like the times where she was still living here in the Philippines where without fail, we would hang out at school or anywhere after school. I missed those days and more importantly, I missed her, and it showed.

I would take pictures of her without knowing as that is usually my style in street photography or any event for that matter; I like taking pictures of people in their natural state… no faking smiles or whatnot. Of course, there are times I asked her to smile for me and I must say, she makes a great model! And I will admit, I have taken a lot of photos of people since 2010, both in regular events or in modeling, but when I saw the photos I took while I was editing, I can’t help but have my breath get taken away.

Maybe it is the fact I haven’t shot in the streets or people for a long time, apart from my trips to Singapore; maybe it is because I missed Amanda, and it was a pure pleasure taking her photos; maybe it was the nice city I was exploring; or maybe it was simply her smile in that one particular photo… but in the end, I am in love with photography again to the point I made a decision to finally upgrade my DSLR after 7 years.

It shows that even if I have a new lens, the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8, my previous lens that I bought 5 years ago is still just as good, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. After getting an upgrade to my DSLR body, I hope to get a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 to complete MY version of the Holy Trinity of Lenses.

Enough of that, enjoy these photos:

When You Shine Brighter Looking Forward...
Take Me Somewhere I Belong

Day Four:


Last Minute Shopping

It is the day we will finally head back home to the Philippines, but my sister still wanted to explore a bit more and shop a bit more, so after making sure we packed everything we needed and checked out from the hotel, leaving our bags at the counter, we made our way to Causeway Bay nearby and shopped.

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In the end, I wasn’t able to get anything I really wanted, but I did stumble upon this cool plushie!

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And finally, after my sister got the stuff she wanted, it was time to head back to the hotel, pick our luggage, and head to the airport.

Til Next Time, Hong Kong!

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On the flight back home, me and my sister had separate seats as she got her plane tickets from a travel agency, whereas I ordered mine online; the flight to Hong Kong, we were lucky to be able to sit together, but alas, on the trip home, we are separated.

I sat next to a nice elderly lady, who was also Filipino, so we chat our way back to the Philippines.

I was also, apparently, labeled by two elderly Chinese couple as the “Go-To-Guy” for asking help when it came to using the inflight entertainment system. I found that very nice that even if they were sitting in the behind me in the aisle, they would reach out to my shoulder and ask me for help. Take note that they both seem to speak much English, but with enough simple sign language, I was able to understand what they wanted, and so I helped them get their inflight entertainment system play the music or the movies they wanted.

Then touch down in the Philippines, I said goodbye to my new found friends during the flight, and eventually, after an hour or two, me and my sister are back home.

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Overall, the trip to Hong Kong was awesome, but I would have loved to explore more of the area; seeing that we were really there for the convention, it was tough to have a vacation state of mind, however, during Day Three and Day Four right before we left, we were able to really appreciate Hong Kong and longed to stay a bit more to see everything else. Of course, there is always next time. And next time, I will go there without any other reason but to see everything else Hong Kong has to offer. So ’til next time, Hong Kong!

Those Hong Kong Lights


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When Dreams Come True: My First Formula One Race Weekend in Person!

WARNING! THIS BLOG POST IS VERY PICTURE HEAVY!!

So it seems I wasn’t able to blog while I was in Singapore, but can you blame me? I was having way too much fun! I got to see Formula 1 (F1) in person after being a fan for 21 years! I got to travel to Singapore and explore the beautiful country all by myself!

Instead, I will make a long blog post to summarize my entire trip!

But in a word, my whole trip, the experience, was “magical”…

DAY ONE:


“…Fly me to the moon”

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I was tensed to say the least; I couldn’t, for the life of me, sleep the night before my flight due to simply being excited, but of course, being tensed as this is my first ever trip outside the country alone; I usually travel with family or friends outside the country, so this marks a very important point in my life… something to tick off the bucket list – to travel alone and feel in control of your entire trip.

It sounds typical on paper, something taken for granted especially for long travelers who travels alone frequently, but for me, it is a big deal; will I know where to go? Will I know what to say? Did I pack everything I need? Those questions loom inside my head as we inch ever closer to the airport.

Funny to note, that my dad told me, my mom, and our driver, to leave the house for the airport a tad too early; you see, I live in Angeles City, Pampanga, the airport is in the heart of Manila… going to Manila from my home is long enough, but having to weave our way inside to get to the airport is another thing entirely. Thus, the need to leave for the airport at an early time, but my dad told us to leave too early, that I managed to arrive at the airport at 3am, and my flight is still 7:40am, making the check in counters closed for my flight as of that moment.

Needlessly to say, after patiently waiting for the check in counters to open for my flight, thankfully I did the online check in and such for my specific ticket, that I was able to cut through most of the line as we have designated counters for those passengers that decided to purchase their tickets online and check in online.

Immigration was the longest part of the entire airport procedure, at least here anyways, in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA); they really need to sort that out to be more efficient, as later on this post, I will talk about how I love the Changi International Airport in Singapore.

Finally, after going through immigration unscathed, I found my gate, and had a very quick breakfast before heading towards the aforementioned gate and play the waiting game.

Not long after waiting in the designated gate, it was time to board. See yah later, Philippines, and see yah in a bit, Singapore!

Touch Down, Singapore!

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Upon arriving at Changi International Airport, even technically this is my 3rd time here (1st when I 1st visited here last March and subsequently the 2nd time is when I came back here), I am still amazed at the efficiency; as soon as I arrived, got off the plane, I found myself done with immigration and picked up my carry on luggage without any hassle whatsoever. I then proceeded to get my taxi, had a great conversation on the way to my hotel, even joked how I brought the rain from the Philippines, because it started raining pretty hard while we were making our way to my hotel.

After getting dropped off, I then checked in to my room, thankfully my 1st time using Agoda was successful, however, I actually checked in a tad too early and had a surcharge on my check in payment. But I really didn’t care anymore, I was in Singapore! I managed to get here by myself, and I am now in my hotel room, resting up a bit, then plan to get lunch and then explore!

The Gardens by the Bay

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After a hearty meal, a quick nap, a nice warm shower, it was time to explore; I wanted to visit Gardens by the Bay and simply have dinner there in a place called Satay by the Bay, which is technically still a hawker area filled with a variety of food not just satay, but we will get into that later. Take note that F1 had 2 Free Practice Sessions, for which I decided to skip on both so I can see more of the city.

I wanted to have live updates on my Twitter and Facebook, but to my dismay, my roaming, for which I was ASSURED of being activated by my service provider, well, let’s just say Murphy got his way and I didn’t have roaming.

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That still didn’t stop me from taking photos with my phone, and heaven forbid, take selfies; I normally don’t take selfies, but hey, this is my 1st trip alone and I want to chronicle it as much as possible, even if it means me taking tons of selfies.

I arrived at the Gardens a little past 6PM and a bit of lack of foresight by me; I wanted to see 3 areas, namely, the Skyway, the Flower Dome, and the Cloud Forest. I went for the Skyway first as a I heard the queue is quite long, but what I should’ve done first was buy tickets for the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest before heading to the Skyway, as when I am thru with the Skyway, I can still visit the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest as those observatories are still open to a certain hour. Sadly, when I was thru on the Skyway, I headed straight to the ticket booths, but they were closed. Sad panda…

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The Gardens by the Bay OCBC Skyway at

The Gardens by the Bay OCBC Skyway

In Love; The Sky's the Limit

The Gardens by the Bay OCBC Skyway
The Gardens by the Bay OCBC Skyway
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But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time in the Gardens; I still had an absolute blast even without visiting the other 2 observatories. Plus it gives me a reason to visit the Gardens again when I am in Singapore in the future. In fact, while I was in queue for the Skyway, I was in prime position to watch the light show they usually display at that certain hour. It was fantastic. Heck, even when I was on the actual Skyway, the light show was still ongoing, so it was perfect timing in a way.

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I then thought it is time to have dinner, thus I followed the signs to Satay by the Bay. However, I am not kidding when I said the signs led me in circles! I was going around in circles at least 3 times until I decided to just forego the signs and look at the site map. After many more steps, this time towards the right direction, I made it to Satay by the Bay.

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Now, unlike any other hawker around Singapore, the prices here are a bit high. Makes sense as it is inside the Gardens area. I must say, it was a great way to cap off my 1st day back in Singapore: I got to make it here in one piece, got to go up the Skyway, see the famed light show in the Gardens, took lots of photos, and had a lovely, simple dinner, in a gorgeous area with a breathtaking backdrop. What more can I ask for?

DAY TWO:


Merlion and Beyond!

Merlion

Day Two started a bit slow for me; I woke up around 11AM… It didn’t help that I slept past 2AM due to sheer excitement and happiness. I got a quick lunch and then started to plan out how to go to Merlion Park.

My lack of foresight reared it’s ugly head once again! I forgot that my F1 tickets can allow me to use the trackside as a shortcut to Merlion Park! I hold tickets that can let me go in near the hotel where my taxi dropped me off, which Gate 3A, and then go towards Gate 6 inside the trackside, and then emerge at Merlion Park. No sweat!

But instead, I did sweat, a lot, just to reach Merlion Park, and boy was my face red when I found out Gate 6 was just in front of Merlion… Ah well.

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PUP-arazzi

Needless to say, I think it was great that I didn’t bring my F1 tickets at this time so I can see the other side of the city while making my way to Merlion Park. I wouldn’t have seen the everyday life in the city otherwise. So always look on the bright side of things, and indeed, in the end, I was thankful I didn’t use the shortcut.

Reaching Merlion Park and taking photos of the Marina Bay Sands and the actual Merlion itself, was worth the entire walk to reach the area. I was able to mingle with other tourists and, more importantly, fellow F1 fans who were more than happy to wear the colors supporting their teams and drivers.

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I wasn’t wearing my colors at this point in time as I am saving them for the qualifying session later that night and the race the very next night. But I still felt like one of the F1 fans, spending time looking at the beautiful Singapore and what if has to offer while waiting for the F1 sessions to begin. Bliss.

Marin at Dusk
Marina at Dusk
Marin at Dusk

“Making my dream come true!”

The Chequered Flag Waves

Finally, the moment arrived: I will watch my VERY FIRST F1 Qualifying Session after being a fan of this wonderful sport for 21 years. I was teary eyed. I can’t believe that it was happening. And now that it happened, I still can’t believe I was able to watch the F1 race weekend in person.

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In fact, the day before the Qualifying session, I even made a long post in Facebook, emphasizing how this is a dream come true:

“This is going to be a long post… LOL

Twenty-one years in the making; the very first race I ever watched on television was the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix, where I saw a red car seemingly flying through Circuit de Catalunya on wet weather conditions. I then found out that that red car was the Ferrari F310 driven by the legendary Michael Schumacher. I became a fan of the team, the driver, and the sport ever since.

Other people would say my love for Formula One is an obsession, but I say it is PASSION. Unlike other sports, it was serendipity how I found out about Formula One; I didn’t have any external influences, thus I felt this was a sport that was mine. It was personal. Coupled the fact that I love cars prior and what kid never loved the red cars… the Ferrari.

Wanting to know more of the history of the sport, I delve deep into the lore dating back to the days of Juan Manuel Fangio; wanting to know the technology of the cars each year, that I can tell the era of the Formula One car and what makes them unique in that generation; trying my best not to miss a race each season since 1996, that I can always reference a race in my discussions with my other Formula One friends or forums.

So huge is my passion for the sport that I was that kid that would build Formula One cars out of Lego; I’d draw them on my notebooks; each time before going to bed, I’d imagine I was driving a Formula One car.

I was that kid that didn’t want to play arcade racing games like Need for Speed or Ridge Racer, rather I wanted to play racing games that deals more of the discipline and realism of the sport and cars. I was the one that learned how each component of the car needs to be tweaked in order to have the best balance just to shave of one thousandths of a second in Gran Turismo, F1 Career Challenge, rFactor, and other simulators (I am currently into Assetto Corsa and F1 2017).

And I was that kid that always dreamt of attending a race weekend in person.

Now that I am actually going to watch a Formula One race in person this weekend, I am looking forward to the actual spectacle of the sport, the rivalries in the race track, the finesse of each driver lap in and lap out for 61 laps, the camaraderie shared with strangers, throwing away political, racial, and spiritual differences, just to enjoy the sport we all love. And most of all, I am looking forward to fulfilling the dream of the 7-year-old me of watching a race in person.”

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Much like the day before for which I skipped the Free Practice Sessions, I decided to skip on Free Practice 3, but still arrived at the track early so I can see the attractions, take photos of the area, try some of the simulators and games and whatnot.

Upon arriving, it was… all I can ever have dreamed of and more! I tightly secured area, with very friendly and knowledgeable staff to usher us around, friendly fellow fans who are not afraid to where their colors in support of their teams and drivers and who are not shy to ask help to take photos of them and are more than happy to take photos of you…

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#F1NightRace

The attractions, both weird and F1 related, but is, what children nowadays say, “Instagram Worthy” – I don’t have Instagram, so I didn’t use that term in real life. Lots of merchandise booths for which I was able to buy an extra Kimi Raikkonen shirt to add along my 2 Scuderia Ferrari team shirts and a hat that I ordered prior to going to Singapore; F1 simulators, that to my chagrin, I wasn’t able to practice F1 2017 with my wheel and pedal set which were identical in the actual simulator on track – I was 10 seconds off the pace, I could have a better lap time if I practiced, were allowed to turn off both Traction Control and Anti Brake Lock System, and switched the Transmission to manual. But ah well.

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There are a lot of hawker style eateries all around the track in different zones, and I love the idea of very limited seats and tables which forces one to make new friends by asking if one can sit with them; I made many friends while getting a bite to eat that are fans of different teams and drivers, but we didn’t make it hard on ourselves and simply had a mature conversation about the sport we love.

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Unlike other F1 races, Singapore also has live concerts, but I was not there for that, I was there for the sport, thus I simply forego such concerts.

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Thus, the green light signals the start of the Qualifying Session; as the cars are now powered by a V6 hybrid engine, they don’t scream as much as the previous years when they still used V12, V10, or V8 engines, but get close enough to the track, they can pound on the ear drums. I didn’t use any ear plugs, as I was able to tolerate the sounds of the V6 hybrid engines.

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Singapore Grand Prix: The Calm Before the Storm

I was at awe, took some good shots, others not, but I wanted to concentrate on the session as much and lesser on taking photos. However, with that said, I did take enough to keep for memories. And my Day 3 below, you will notice that I have not taken a lot of shots during the race, except the end of the race, as I was really into the experience of watching my first ever race, plus an unfortunate event in the start of the race left a foul taste in my mouth that I just wanted to watch the rest of the race and not take too many pictures.

#Kimi7
Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari
Raikkonen #7
Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari
Raikkonen #7
Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari
#Seb5
Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari
Vettel #5
Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari
Vettel #5
Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari
Hamilton #44
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Hamilton #44
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Ricciardo #33
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Verstappen #3
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Alonso #14
Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Honda

As the session reached Qualifying 3 (Q3), I wasn’t really expecting Ferrari to do well since Red Bull seems so strong the entire weekend and the practice sessions. Raikkonen manged 4th position (P4), and that was actually a good thing after he was struggling to get into grips with his car during practice, but the best part was his team mate, Vettel, getting pole position (1st position/P1)! Now that is how we cap off our first ever F1 Qualifying Session in style! Seeing Ferrari and Vettel on top! I was in cloud nine!

Again, the maturity of the crowd made it easy to cheer for your favorite team, as no one will give you a hard time if you support their rivals. I can hear fellow Ferrari fans cheering and I can’t help but cheer with them as the Qualifying Session was ending, cheering (to no avail, since Vettel can’t hear us in the car) as he passes the grandstand we were all sitting in, and shouting in jubilation and in unison when Vettel was officially in pole position. Such bliss. Great feeling indeed. And a memory I will keep in my heart forever as this was my first Qualifying Session ever. There may be other races I will attend in the future, but this is my first. And will always be special.

The most difficult part was actually going back to the hotel; I was not to keen on using the metro in Singapore as I have never used it before, and I will not try something new in a different country, so I rather look for a taxi. My mistake was I decided to exit thru a different gate from where I entered and was far from the usual taxi stand. Needless to say, I walked a mile or so just to find a taxi, and thankfully, unlike the taxi drivers here in the Philippines, you feel very safe taking a taxi late at night in Singapore. And needless to say, I got home to my hotel safe.

I was too high on the experience that I had to calm down in order to sleep. I was to meet with my mentor and friend. Doc Noe, the next day before I head to the track for the race. But alas, I fell asleep 4AM, and as I will mention in the Day 3 section below, Doc Noe and I met in the afternoon, giving me time to sleep til 11AM. And then the race after my meeting with Doc Noe to cap off the day and my overall Singapore trip.

DAY THREE:


“One Good Day Comin’ Up!”

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Day started slow for me, waking up at 11AM; eventually had to take a warm bath, quick lunch, and meet up with my friend and mentor, Doc Noe.

We honestly had no idea what to do or where to go during our hangout, so Doc Noe decided to show me Sentosa, which in fact, is one of the 3 places I wanted to see so bad: 1. being Gardens by the Bay, 2. being Merlion Park, and 3. being Sentosa; having seen the 1st 2 places, without him knowing that it was my 3rd location I would want to visit, he took me there.

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I finally tried out the buses around Singapore, and technically, it isn’t difficult, but I always go by the rule: if I am unfamiliar with how one thing works or goes by, I won’t try it on my own just yet, especially if I am not from Singapore at all. Thus I didn’t try the bus or the metro around the city, only relying on taxis to get me to and from certain locations.

Upon arriving near Sentosa, we had a short stop at a local mall there to find some Ervin’s Salted Chips for my sister and some Old Town Coffee for my other friends. The former, according to Doc Noe, would usually be sold out, and lo and behold, it was! I am not interested in trying it, I was just buying it for my sister, but I was just wondering what in the world did they add in it to make it so addicting for other people? It will still be a mystery to me in the end.

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Having gotten what I needed, and looked around inside the mall, we then headed out to Sentosa by foot.

It was pouring at that time, and as a F1 fan, I was already thinking how will this affect the race. But until the race that night, I will just enjoy Sentosa as much as I can.

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Sadly, I didn’t get to see everything in Sentosa, because even if it is it’s own little island, it is still a large area to explore. I saw the interesting portions of Sentosa, thanks to Doc Noe, and was told that there are a lot more to see in Sentosa. This along with my failed attempt to see the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome in the Gardens by the Bay, may warrant another visit to this lovely country some time soon.

As we are making our way back to my hotel, we took the metro, which gives me another option after the race, since the night before, I had to go end to end to find a taxi stand. As mentioned above, I usually don’t try anything new without enough research or have someone guide me, such as the case of riding the bus in Singapore, and now in this case, riding the metro to my hotel.

After all that, had to say “see yah later” to my good friend and mentor, Doc Noe, as I needed to prepare for the race, hence we didn’t end the hangout with a meal or so. I had to rush, because I was one of the selected few to be interviewed by some F1 representatives on my current experience of the race weekend and what I think would be a welcome addition or change for future race weekends around the world. So the clock was definitely ticking on me.

“Rain on my Parade”

#F1NightRace

Upon arriving once again on the trackside, I can see what the earlier rain has done: the rubber on the track itself that was laid down by the cars, has been washed out; the hawker areas on the open grass fields have become muddy; and the chilly feeling that it would rain again later in the race, as opposed to clear skies the night before.

I mentioned that some F1 representatives wanted to interview us, the select few, but unfortunately, the rain made it hard for them to interview and record the interview. So, they informed us, instead, that they would send us questions vis email and we would still get our incentives. Yes, I was given a certain amount of Singapore Dollars thru PayPal. Talk about getting something in return for trying to improve the sport you love. All this, on my 1st ever race weekend. Wow.

Now that I had all that done, I was making my way to my seat in the Bay Area Grandstand, suddenly, the heavens opened up, and a downpour ensued. Is this a rain on my parade?

“Five Red Lights Off, Two Red Cars Off as Well”

Along the way to my seat, I was lucky enough as the downpour occurred, I was just near another merchandise shop, thus I ordered what they call “race weekend survival kits”, basically, it has a raincoat and some earplugs. I find it funny it being named survival kit when it only has those 2 items.

Wore it, and had a lot of strange looks, not because of a grown (figuratively) man wearing a clear raincoat, slightly oversized for him, but had a lot of strange looks, because they also needed it. Along the way, I was approached by males and females, all ages, from every walks of life, asking me where to get one, because apparently, they couldn’t find it, and like me, wouldn’t let the rain defeat them from enjoying the race. This is another example of the camaraderie within the race track amongst the fans. It wasn’t much, I just had to point out the proper booths, but to hear them sincerely saying thank you, was music to my ears and nearly in comparison to those times my patients say thank you.

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Thus! I finally reached my seat, waiting patiently for the race to start, hoping the rain wouldn’t get any worse that it was.

There it is… the screen in front of our grand stand seats showed the start/finish straight, and finally, 5 red lights illuminated one by one (well, there are 2 lights per column, so 10 red lights in total, but yeah, whatever, we usually say 5 red lights… deal with it.) and when of them lit up… and finally all of them turned off… signalling the start of the race!

As the 5 red lights turned off… I saw 2 red cars… crashing out.

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Copyright: Formula One

The worse case scenario for my 1st ever race weekend actually happened! A rare double DNF (Did not finish) for both Ferrari cars! And the first time in history, not a single Ferrari finished a lap. I was like. What. The. Hell.

But that is the nature of the sport I watch. You can’t always win them all, and in fact, both cars may not always be there when you actually go and watch a race in person. Just a fact of life. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the remainder of the race. I stayed behind to watch the whole thing, making friends again with strangers, and made a new buddy that I might meet up again in a future race! He was my seat mate, Robert is a Mercedes fan, but like every other F1 fan, we both respect each other’s support of opposing teams, and won’t say anything bad otherwise; again, this shows how it is easy to be in a F1 race, wearing your colors, and not be insulted for the team or driver you support.

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One of the main reasons why I chose the Bay Grandstand seats, even if it is technically slow part of the track (but hey, it makes it easy to take photos of the cars!), but the fact that it over looks the body of water and it is quite the show with fireworks as made evident by my photo I took.

Thank You, Singapore Grand Prix 2017

Finally… it was time to make my way back to the hotel and pack. For it was time for me to come back home to the Philippines in less than 12 hours from that point.

Arriving at the hotel, I had to lay down my F1 gear and just had to stand back and look at them. The result wasn’t what I wanted, but the experience… not just the race, but traveling alone, exploring Singapore alone… I didn’t think I would be able to do so.

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Then of course, the thought that I finally made the 7 year old me’s dream come true was and still is difficult to fathom. In fact, 2 weeks or more have passed, but I am still in pure shock and delight that I as finally able to watch the sport I love. Not that many people can really say that. Sure, there are season ticket holders for NBA, NFL, etc, but the majority still, just watch in the comfort of their own home. So this was really something for me.

Done packing up, making sure I didn’t leave anything important, double checked my booking and my passport, and finally took a good warm shower… It was time to sleep… Or so I thought…

Making the Most of my Trip

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I still went out, looking around the beautiful side of the city I was in, knowing that in a few hours, I will be leaving it again. I wanted to just make the most of this trip.

Went around and found a quaint little area for some dumplings with Coke of course, and then I was out on my feet again, looking at the rest of the city near my hotel.

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It was serene… calming… but at the same time, saddening knowing that this beautiful city and I will have to separate as I have to make my way home to the Philippines. But hey… I can always come back.

DAY FOUR:


“Thank You, Singapore…”

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Rough time trying to sleep after packing my stuff for the most part, double and triple checking my documents/passport for traveling back home, making sure I haven’t left anything,  I was, like the night or morning before, too high from the experience, albeit, seeing both Ferrari cars crashing out without even completing a lap.

Decided to head out of the hotel again just to get a quick snack and maybe just look around the area near my hotel as I am just hours away from going back home.

I fell asleep, back inside the hotel room of course, around 4AM and had to get up around 6AM so I can get breakfast and head to the airport really early. Again, like in NAIA, I rather be early and wait in Changi International Airport rather than rushing. Also, I needed to get my friends some souvenirs, thus I had to make a mad dash to get keychains.

Again, I am very impressed by the airport here, so efficient and I had no problems whatsoever checking in and getting through the immigration and security. As soon as I arrived in the airport, the sooner I was done with checking in and I found myself waiting beside my designated gate to open. And as soon as my gate was open, I found myself inside the plane as the waiting wasn’t all that long.

And as the plane was taking, I can only look at the nearest window (as I gotten older, I rather sit next to the aisle so I can easily go to the comfort room) and I can only say to myself… Thank you, Singapore. Thank you.

“10 HOME
20 SWEET
30 GO TO 10”

As I gotten home, or even on the way home, as my mother and our driver picked me up from the airport, I anticipated the traffic jams and everything else wrong here in the Philippines as opposed to the very regulated Singapore. The crazy bumper to bumper traffic jams, coupled with the heat that wasn’t helped by the little drizzle adding to the humidity, the ill maintained roads and buildings, the overall lack of cleanliness and pollution, and as I gotten home and switched on my PC only to find out the net is down… Everything is just the opposite of Singapore. But in spite of all those… you know what? It is still home. Philippines is still my home (Along with America, of course). And I’m happy to be back.


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I’m Going on an Adventure!

September 15, 2017: A day that I have been waiting since May of this year when I first ordered my Formula 1 (hereafter F1) tickets for the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. I always exclaimed that September 15 can never come sooner, and now it is just a few hours away and my flight to Singapore will take off.

Let’s recall up where this all began and up to this point where I am quite excited and tensed for my first ever trip outside the country alone (I have been out of the country, of course, but I was always with family or with friends).

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Original Photo: http://www.redbullracing.com/article/singapore-gp-track-essentials

“…you deserve it”

The words my sister and fellow physician, Debbie, told me when we first vacationed at Singapore last March 31, along with our other friends/colleagues from the medical world (Tidbit: they are her colleagues, I treat them as my mentors, because I’m still the youngest and I have yet to train for a specialization just yet. So they are far and away, more brilliant than I can ever aspire to be. But aspire I will), when I was contemplating whether I should visit the beautiful country of Singapore again, this time, for the race to add along the beauty of my visit. She uttered the words, “Why not, you deserve it”, referencing the fact I chose not to have a thanksgiving party after I passed my Physician Licensure Exam the year prior, nor did I ask for any real prize from my family. I didn’t even think of vacations as I was immediately hired, or asked to be hired (I was lucky to have a lot of sources and a lot of people endorsing me as a good physician and would be a perfect fit for their institution), by a number of Universities (both as their University Physician and Faculty in their School of Medicine), clinics as their general physician, teaching hospitals to hire me as their resident in various specialties; all that made me not think of vacations, prizes, etc., but immediately started to think about work and my future training.

So, when my sister said those words, I can’t help but seriously think of treating myself to a race, a plane to ticket too look around Singapore a second time around (trust me, Singapore should be visited many times… It is just beautiful), book a hotel room for my own, and just have the whole trip paid with my own hard earned cash, where no guilt is involved, and I can go to the places I want to go and that I missed in my first visit.

I was still at the cusp of deciding to go to Singapore again for the race, until it came to my attention that this year’s Singapore GP may be the last one held there for F1 in the foreseeable future. Thus, I decided to go back.

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                                         Original Photo: memecrunch.com                                           Copyright: Warner Brothers

“I’m going on an adventure!”

As metioned multiple times above, this isn’t my first time going to Singapore; I was there last March 31, because, apparently, my sister needed a chaperone, otherwise my parents won’t let her go (take note, she is older than me by 7 years – I am 28), so she can join her colleagues (my mentors) to watch Coldplay. I like Coldplay, I respect them as a band, and I love a lot of their songs, but I am not a fan enough of them to actually watch them in concert. Thus, while I became the chaperone, I told her, in exchange, I will explore the city while they all watch the concert; I don’t want to watch the concert. She agreed.

So, now I will be coming back for my version of their Coldplay concert: the Singapore GP!

I will also explore a lot more this time around, since I was only able to explore on my own last March 31, but the subsequent day, I was with the group and wasn’t able to decide on the places to visit. Now that I am alone on this trip, sure I might meet up with a couple of friends (1 of which is another fellow physician, whom I consider a mentor, Dr. Noe), but I will be checking places like Gardens by the Bay, Merlion Park, etc.; the places I failed to visit last time.

The main point of going here is the race, but like I said many times: Singapore is such a beautiful place, that it is a MUST to explore.

And this is my first time traveling out of the country all by myself. I am excited and tensed. But really looking forward to the overall experience.

Twenty-One Years in the Making

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Copyright: Formula 1

I first fell in love with F1 at 1996, where I saw Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari, seemingly flying through the Circuit de Catalunya in the Spanish GP in horrid wet weather condition.

I was enthralled by the overall discipline of the sport since then. The passion of speed and technology. And of course, I became a fan of Michael and Ferrari. Up to this day, I still support Ferrari, win or lose, I bleed red.

I have been a fan of this wonderful sport that literally changed my life for 21 years; I have religiously watched every season. Sure, later on in my life, especially during my medical school days, there are some races that I missed, but overall, each season, I am in the know.

Some people may call it obsession, but to me, it is just pure passion. I am that kid that didn’t understand the value of money, so my parents would trick me into thinking they can’t afford F1 toys and such, that I made one out of paper. Not the best as you can imagine, but I was satisfied as my imagination took care of the lack of details. I then started making F1 cars in Lego, and was proud of its accuracy (I use this word with caution as “accuracy” in basic Lego parts, is really not accurate, but I got close – I will provide a photo of that Lego build once I clean it) and still have it with me, never broken down since, proudly displayed with my actual die-cast F1 cars – why yes, as I finally gotten older, I was able to get my hands on F1 toys and merchandise.

My passion also sent into apparels, where each year from 2002-2007, I ordered Scuderia Ferrari hats to support the team (I have stopped ordering hats from 2008-2016 due to my supplier stopped selling F1 merchandise), and proudly wearing that hat while watching a race even if I was not in the actual stands.

Thanks to F1, I also got into cars in general, to the point where I am like most guys that love cars, that can tell the make, the model, the year, a particular car is.

Thanks to F1, I also became a fan of racing simulators, where my first taste of a “simulator” was Gran Turismo; this further fueled my love for F1 and now different types of racing disciplines. With Gran Turismo, and the other games I played in that series, I learned the parts of a car, and what different setups will cause the car to behave. And my passion for the sport shows as I have a racing simulator rig set up for games such as Assetto Corsa, Codemasters’ F1 series, etc.

As you can see, F1 opened a whole new world for me. It is more than a hobby; more than a sport I love; it is a PASSION.

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“…all my bags are packed…”

Yesterday, I started packing my things up, but not before my mom and I met each other at the local mall after my clinic duty to buy some more necessary travel accessories and maybe a new luggage for my own. Previously, I simply thought of borrowing my sister’s small luggage for the trip, but I thought of maybe buying my own, to call my own, for a relatively good price. The go-to luggage nowadays seem to be Samsonite, but I was always distraught with the price. Not to sound arrogant, but I can afford them, but the practical side of me thinks bags/clothes/shoes, should not be too expensive; for electronics, I don’t mind spending a premium, because I feel it is proper to have a more expensive prices for better quality electronics and such. But when I saw this one Samsonite luggage, it spoke to me. It is strange, but I treat my items as living objects, I take good care of them, and sometimes I talk to them; it is strange indeed, but this is how I get to keep most of my items in tip-top shape and last much longer than they are advertised to be. Thus, when this bag spoke to me, I didn’t care about the price and just bought it… well, with a little persistence from my mom to buy it. Otherwise, I would still be thinking about the purchase even if the luggage spoke to me.

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Impulse buy?

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Reppin’ the U.N. Spacy!

Since this bag is going to be checked-in, I decided to remove the Razer “Remove Before Fight” tag from my key chain and attached it to the bag. I also added some U.N. Spacy logos on the tag. Afterall, this Samsonite bag is not exclusive to me, someone out there, may be traveling to Singapore on the same flight with a similar bag, so I might as well place some stickers, tags, etc., to make it easily identifiable. I will not, however, copy what others are doing like printing a huge picture of themselves on the bag. Maybe next time…

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             Original Photo: http://www.carmag.co.za/singapore-f1-grand-prix-2017/               Copyright: Formula 1

“…and that is 5 red lights and away we go!”

Now, I am just waiting for tomorrow, September 15, 2017, for my flight. I will leave home around 2am, since Manila is unpredictable if there will be a traffic jam like last time we went to the airport. Plus, it is far better to wait in the airport, fully checked-in and such, rather than panicking trying to make the cut-off. This is afterall, my first trip overseas alone.

I am tensed, but excited. And I am sure this trip back to Singapore will be a wonderful experience that will supersede the previous visit as this is my first ever trip overseas alone, add the fact I will watch my first F1 race in person after being a fan for 21 years, this adventure will be a memorable one indeed.

Til my next post when I touch down in Singapore! PEACE!


 

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Racer of Virtual Cars: Assetto Corsa 1988 FIA F1 World Championship Round 2 San Marino GP

Continuing my custom made 1988 F1 Championship using Senna’s McLaren MP4/4.

AI Difficulty 100%
Mechanical Damage 50%
Tyre Wear x2
Slip Stream Effect x2
Fuel Consumption On
Traction Control and Anti-Lock Braking System On
33% Race Distance

Round 2 San Marino GP 1988:

I qualified in pole position after what I considered is a god like lap. A bit slow off the start (I really need to work on that), but I was able to get the lead back easily and was managing the pace in front with no problems (a few cutting corners by accident here and there).

Sadly, this is where I noticed Assetto Corsa lacking in terms of the AI: AI backmarkers do not move out of your way or slow down as to not impeded the leaders. In fact, I got punted in lap 17 and lost my lead.

Thus, a 3 lap race for the lead and win began. It was thrilling, but I was really mad at the AI.

Also of note, this will be the last race for now that I run in 33% total race distance… I will be lowering it down for now at 25% total race distance.

Driver’s Championship After Round 2:

1. N. Mansell – 15
2. A. Prost – 9
3. ME! – 9
4. M. Alboreto -3
5. N. Piquet – 2
6. E. Cheever – 2
7. J. Bailey -1
8. R. Patrese -1

Constructor’s Championship After Round 2:

1. McLaren – 19
2. Williams – 16
3. Ferrari – 3
4. Lotus – 2
5. Arrows – 2
6. Tyrell – 1

Game info:

•Game: Assetto Corsa
•Car: McLaren MP4/4 (Mod by VRC)
•Event: Round 1 Brazilain GP 1988 (My custom made championship)
•Track: Jacarepagua (1988 config)
•AI Difficulty 100%
•Mechanical Damage 50%
•Tyre Wear x2
•Slip Stream Effect x2
•Fuel Consumption On
•Traction Control and ABS On
•33% Race Distance

PC info:

•CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
•Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
•Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
•RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
•HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb; Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb; Samsung 850 EVO
•PSU: Corsair GS700
•GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
•Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
•Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; Logitech F710; iPega Bluetooth Controller; Logitech G920 Wheel; Logitech Driving Force Shifter; Logitech G430 Headphones; Logitech G933 Headphones; Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
•Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle; 2M RGB USB Powered LED strip
•NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

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Racer of Virtual Cars: Assetto Corsa 1988 FIA F1 World Championship Round 1 Brazilian GP

This is not going to be the bulk of my posts here in this site, but I’m starting a new series where I will play some racing sims and record them.

For this inaugural post in this brand new series of blogs, I will share the 1st round of my custom made 1988 F1 season… I might make a seperate post on how I made the custom mod and such, but for now, this post will have a video of the 1st round of the championship.

I am driving the McLaren MP4/4 opposite of Alain Prost for the 16 races in this season.

Round 1 Round 1 Brazilian GP 1988:

After a hard fought qualifying, I ended up in 4th place in the grid. Had a decent start and worked my up to 2nd and was fighting for the lead. It was a good race for me as I was able to manage my tyres and fuel (no refuelling and tyres are expected to have at least 50% life at the end of the race thus pitting is very rare in 1988), but I got too greedy fighitng for the lead and in the penultimate corner of the 9th lap… well… you can just watch it.

Driver’s Championship After Round 1:

1. N. Mansell – 9
2. A. Prost – 6
3. M. Alboreto -3
4. N. Piquet – 2
5. R. Patrese -1

Constructor’s Championship After Round 1:

1. Williams – 10
2. McLaren – 6
3. Ferrari – 3
4. Lotus – 2

Game info:

•Game: Assetto Corsa
•Car: McLaren MP4/4 (Mod by VRC)
•Event: Round 1 Brazilain GP 1988 (My custom made championship)
•Track: Jacarepagua (1988 config)
•AI Difficulty 100%
•Mechanical Damage 50%
•Tyre Wear x2
•Slip Stream Effect x2
•Fuel Consumption On
•Traction Control and ABS On
•33% Race Distance

PC info:

•CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
•Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
•Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
•RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
•HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb; Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb; Samsung 850 EVO
•PSU: Corsair GS700
•GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
•Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
•Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; Logitech F710; iPega Bluetooth Controller; Logitech G920 Wheel; Logitech Driving Force Shifter; Logitech G430 Headphones; Logitech G933 Headphones; Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
•Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle; 2M RGB USB Powered LED strip
•NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

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Less Than Three

It is time I seriously jot down a proper article; my usual writings as of late are about my recent adventures, and although there is nothing wrong with writing, or blogging, about those shenanigans, I felt I am starting to stray away from my roots as a writer.

Anyone can write about their day, and it has been far too long, eons even, since I wrote something that I would be proud of publishing back in the days where I was still an Editor in Chief for various school papers.

With that, the inquisitive amongst you readers might ask, with a title like that, what in the world would he write about pouring his heart and soul into it like his past articles when he was still an active member of a school paper?

Well, you have the answer right there, somewhere, devoured by other words in the previous sentence: I will write about my “heart” and my “soul”.

Much like every other human being that is a prisoner to one’s own emotions, I too, sadly and unfortunately, succumb to these humanly emotions, and I look down on my own brain for submitting to these neurotransmitters that dictate these emotions. I always thought I would be far more effective if I were not susceptible to these emotions; that I would be able to reach far reaching places without anything idiotic like falling in love get in my way. I was wrong. I am still wrong. I will probably never be right.

Of course, before the pheromones of the opposite sex caused me to have transient mental dysfunction, there was a time when I was immune to these emotions.

There I was, a young lad, with bright eyes; everything he sees, he questions. I would rather study, even at a young age, I would rather read and do my homework, if need be. I would also rather play games that use little to no physical prowess and more of the intellect, thus, I rather play games like Chess and lots of video games that makes me think. I had the family’s encyclopedia collection in my room and when I am tired of reading for school or even playing games, I would grab a volume and read some more. Clearly, I knew my physical short comings, and would rather hone my skills in the intellectual world. Going as far as coining up the term “Intellectual Intercourse”; I would rather have an intellectual intercourse with a girl than to really have a normal lustful relationship – a modern day Platonic love, if you will.

Falling in love was the least of my concerns when I was much younger, and for that, I admired my younger self and felt he was the smarter form, and far better form, of myself. Back then I only had a clear-cut goal and I will stop at nothing, not even the aforementioned pheromones, to attain my goals. I always wanted to be deemed smart, thus I toiled away, day in and day out, sacrificing my overall physique, in order to concentrate on my studies and future career. I made sure I would know something about most things, and even though I may not know all of the aspects of a certain subject being discussed, I will make sure I know enough to stay relevant. And for the things I do know, I know them well.

I had and still have a lot of friends, but truth be told, I wasn’t always popular among anyone, because I was just shy of being a teacher’s pet; a little more, I would become Randall from Recess, minus the snitching of course. I always loved my studies, and as a friend, I will only be there when you need me, not when you want me; never expect me to be there for your birthday party, but expect me there if your life depended on it.

I am sheltered, to no fault of my parents, but I was sheltered most of my life due to my inherent want to just distance myself of the social norm; I am more old-fashioned, so forcing myself to the norm of today takes a great toll on me and made me hate people in general for their idiocy, fickleness, hypocrisy, and the list goes on.

As John McAfee once said: “People will be people, you can trust no one. It’s not a bad thing/cynical. I trust people to be people, to act in their own self-interests”, and I lived by this… Maybe I still do. But of course, there will come a time where I have to rub shoulders with other people and that of the opposite sex, as I continue my studies and my valiant attempt to reach my goals.

Needless to say, I started to lower down my guard about other people, I started to have my walls that sheltered me crumble as I started to understand the quirks and the things I hate about other people. Albeit, I still don’t like going to parties and the like, but I am slowly finding myself longing to hang out with my friends in the malls and whatnot. I may not accept the social norm of present day, but I was flexible enough to have my old-fashioned beliefs coincide in harmony.

Then it happened, I was still in high school then, but I felt something that I always heard about and dreaded about; what is this fleeting feeling in my chest? Why do I want to smile and chuckle without anyone talking to me or cracking a joke? Why do I feel like dancing with no music playing? And why do I not want to go home and be sheltered and surrounded by my books anymore?

I had my first crush. I was probably falling in love for the first time.

All rational and logical thinking is thrown out of the hypothetical windows when you find that someone that makes your heart skip a beat. And even if I had no intentions of really falling in love before, I, like everyone else, would always have a list of the ideal significant other ranging from looks to personality, yet sometimes, or most of the time, you make exceptions to the rule and fall for that person that didn’t tick off one box, let alone all the boxes, of your list of traits you’d want in your ideal significant other.

But maybe that is why we “fall”; we don’t choose to fall in the very definition of the word, as falling down you may graze your knees, as well as, your elbows; you’d end up with skid marks and skinned knees, as they say, and seriously, falling down in general hurts. But when the time calls to fall down, such as the case of sports like baseball, American football, and soccer, to name a few, where either catching the ball or defending the goal, you’d literally thrust your body and end up falling to the ground, bruised physically, but when the attempt succeeds, you can stand triumphantly. The very thought is you take the chance to catch or defend, where you end up hurt, but with a good outcome, you feel elated. And that is exactly what falling in love is: you take the risk, you may get hurt along the way falling, but if you succeed and someone is waiting to catch you, then you feel elated; yet if there is nothing in between you and the pavement, falling, in this case, heart first, will hurt. Get up, try again. Or can you?

In retrospect, I have crushes on a lot of girls, some I know personally, some that are celebrities; others being real, and the rest being, well, gaming or anime characters. But out of the real girls I know personally, I only really liked 4 of them. And out of those 4, I only really fell in love with 2 of them. And with 2 of them, I really thought I’d end up with 1 of them.

Sadly, she was a star far too bright for my own galaxy…

I fell in love one too many times for me to really care for, but being the hopeless romantic I am, on those 2 times that I did fall in love, I loved a bit too much. It is probably hilarious to hear this from a guy, because let’s face it, all those romantic movies and what mothers would usually tell their daughters, it is us men that end up breaking their hearts, but believe me, much like falling in love one too many times, I got my heart broken just as many times for me to really care for.

Breaking of hearts is not simply the other person saying they don’t like you, it won’t work out, or something along those lines. More often than not, it is letting go of something that you know won’t be realized in fruition. But whatever the case may be, as hard as it is for women, it is just as hard for us men, especially a hopeless romantic like myself.

The hardest part is that, whether your relationship came into realization or wasn’t even given the chance to take off, once that person becomes your everyday, your ever hour, your ever minute, your every second, all the way down to a thousandth of a second, the moment you have to let go, and you are struck with the thought the very next day, that very waking moment, and that they are less of your everyday now and you are no longer theirs either, if at all, in the first place.

The thought someone else ultimately making her smile from ear to ear; someone else ultimately making her laugh with stupid jokes; and that someone else ultimately saying “he loves her” and she will say she “loves him back”; those thoughts gnaw and eat my very insides ‘til there is really nothing left.

But the heart still beats, though broken, yet do you really feel it beating?

Each time those heartbreaks occurred, I pined. I pined a little longer than most guys whose relationships end or didn’t even have the chance to blossom. I pined and everyone around me could see that I was pining. But like any soldier, I mustered up the courage to go on, dodging all the bullets and taking a few, jumping over hurdles and tripping on a few; and it was making me become someone else, someone that I loathed to be, someone that was not Christian.

My labyrinthine mind usually filled with science and whatnot, now started to entertain rhetorical questions like “was I missing something?”, “where did I mess up”, “was I, simply, not good enough…?”.

I was becoming just like anyone else. I was not that special person, that strong person I thought I was, with a clear-cut goal and will have at nothing to get in his way of achieving them. I was finally becoming human.

And I hated each and every time I fall and there is no one in the other end to soften that free fall.

So, why was I always eager to fall again? All knowing what it does to me mentally and physically? Because like all other human beings, I was just plain stupid – I was just not as smart as I first thought I was.

I am just stupid.

The old saying, “It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all”, finally makes sense to me. Back when I was much younger, without knowing an ounce of truth of what love really entails, I always thought falling in love was easy; I always thought if you loved someone, and you showed them that you can make it to whatever ends of the world there is to prove it, that they’d love you back. Why would I lose? But alas, the naivety shows in my younger self. Love may be a many-splendored thing, but it can also be lackluster, confusing, and painful.

And it is true, now that I’m older, that it is far better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. I know the highs of falling in love and the harsh lows of either falling out of it, or simply, not having been reciprocated for it. I have seen the immense beauty of it and I have seen the hideous side of it. I have been falling in and out of the idea of love that I can now easily tell whether the pain that I feel in my chest was because I fell for someone, that someone never loved me back, or something less stupid and something more real, like muscle pain.

I have loved. I have lost. That is good enough for me.

Whatever awaits me in this lopsided game called love, I will see it through. Whether that means love is truly worth waiting for or just something worth experiencing at least once in one’s lifetime – time will tell. And even if it doesn’t, time will, nonetheless, heal all wounds.


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Cooling Off

I have decided to take the time off from my preparation of the USMLE because I finally lost it, I finally burnt out, I am finally tired at the thought of picking up my notes.

As the saying goes, “rest if you must, but don’t you quit”, thus here I am taking the week off until August 1, 2017, to resume my readings.

And it just so happened that my best friend from my B.S. Biology and Medical school days, and fellow physician, Dr. Lee, visiting the Philippines as he has a short vacation from his military training. In fact, he is down to his last month of training in the military and he and I will be focusing on our preparation for the USMLE as we plan to tackle it together.

Dr. Lee and I have been best of friends for more than 12 years now; he was 1 year my senior during our B.S. Biology years and we became classmates during Medical school days. And as they say, any friendship that lasts more than 7 years will most likely last a lifetime – it certainly seems that way.

Glad he came back and as per usual, I am usually the first person he contacts when he is back and we hang out like old times.

He is quite close to my family as I am with his family, so I was happy, but not so surprised, when his mother, who is still in Korea, got me a gift; I too will give his family a gift before he returns to Korea, because, apart from reciprocity, even if I hadn’t had a gift from his mother, it is just right and almost like an unwritten rule for us to always do such gestures.

Each time he returns here for his short vacations, we usually end up hanging out most of the days he is here; that eventually leads me to saying, “Man, Lee, I see nearly everyday that each time I close my eyes to sleep, I see your face and I end up getting scared to sleep at all.”

Anyways, it is great he is back even for a few days as it coincided with my decision to just take a break from my readings; it really helped me cool off my burnt out demeanor.

Come August 1, I feel I would have found a new sense of vigor when reading.

Til next time! PEACE!

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