Grilling with the Philippine MVPs : Episode 2 – Grill version 2.00

Since I became a Microsoft MVP for SQL Server some years ago, the challenge to gather the MVPs to go on some quality non-tech time has been a challenge, unless of course if called by the local unit of Microsoft. The first episode was a super success. 2 years ago, we went to a bird sanctuary to do some bird watching/photography and some grilling and of course a lot of discussion on whatever things that come our way. Check out MVP Jojo Ayson and MVP Eduardo Lorenzo’s accounts of the first MVP outing.

Last week, rarin’ for another quality time with fellow MVPs, I posted on Facebook the idea of doing the 2nd episode of the MVP’s version of non-tech weekend with fellow MVPs. And yesterday, with MVPs Allan Spartacus Mangune, John De Lizo and his other half and his pet Floppy and Michael Corpuz with his lovely wife and great kids, another milestone was achieved as we went to some nice resort south of Manila to spend the entire day by the beach and over grills and a lot of talk about how things are/were with each of our lives. And of course, as part of the tradition, we can’t avoid making as topics those MVPs who were not around. 🙂

Fast forward, we are once again on the road when for the 2nd time, I remember about the grill I was supposed to bring. Together with the grill was the knife and the charcoal igniter. We thought of going back for the important items as we are still not outside of the metropolis but thanks to Michael, for the second time, as resourceful as he is, he saved our day as he agreed to find some grill along the way so we have something to use for our BBQs.

So at around 7:00am, we cruised along CAVITEX

Photo courtesy of Chellie Acbang

and on the road in Kawit, Cavite, we bought some yummy talaba (oysters) and tahong (mussels). We bought some ice along the way too.

Photo courtesy of Chellie Acbang

It was a smooth easy ride and around 8:00am, we reached our destination: Puerto Azul, Ternate, Cavite.

Photo courtesy of Chellie Acbang

After we got ourselves settled down on some cottages, the main business for the day started : GRILLING.

Once again, like in the first outing, one has to ask: how many MVPs are needed to light the fire and make BBQs? There was a significant improvement compared to the first as to how MVPs deploy the grill and make BBQs. First, the grill Mike bought was better and a lot bigger.  Second, the charcoal was superb. A far cry from what MVP Eduardo Lorenzo brought in the first outing. Everyone agreed that what makes a great grill is not the wire mesh/grill but the quality of charcoal. John De Lizo brought the premium branded kind. 🙂 And with that, we all concluded to redefine what a charcoal for grilling is. We agreed that the charcoal has to be unused and dry 😛

Then it’s time to start the fire. Allan was the genius. He got the fire burning fast with some scrap newspaper. All these while he was able to avoid getting that black soot on his immaculate hands. 🙂

We thought, everything will go smooth when we realized that every food we brought, except for the fish Michael brought in, were all frozen, and are yet to be thawed. But to hell with ice, we defrosted everything on top of the grill … that is how efficient Mirosoft MVPs are.

Here is the MVPs Grill 2011, version 1.00.

Photo courtesy of Jojo Ayson … grabbed from his blogsite Lakwatsero

Here is what we had yesterday… the MVPs Grill 2013, vastly improved version 2.00.

Photo courtesy of Michael Corpuz

They say everything gets really awesome with Version 3.00. We probably need Jojo Ayson for the 3rd release 😛

So for the rest of the day, we just chilled out and enjoyed what the resort had for us. And we had with us the instant star of the day – Floppy, John De Lizo’s golden retriever, who had us star-strucked and glued to him all day! Here we are:

Photo courtesy of the resort’s caretaker 🙂

We headed home past 3:00pm and had another successful episode of Philippine Microsoft MVPs bonding together to form a great family. Great experience, great food, great company once again! Looking forward for Episode 03.


PHISSUG and a friend!!!

March 2008, PHISSUG (Philippine SQL Server Users Group) officers Vince, Mike and Dennis and yours truly trekked Taal Volcano for some landscape photography binge. We left Manila before 4am with this handsome puppy! The story was that, as I left home, I noticed this pup was following me as I walked from home to where the guys would fetch me. It was basically a couple hundred meters walk from the house. The pup would follow me as I noticed 2 cats were harassing the poor puppy. I dunno who the owner was as it was still around 4:00am and every house I passed by were still close and their lights off. Got pity on the pup and shoo’d away the cats and decided to let him follow me. Thought he would give up chasing me but he would to no end until I got to see the PHISSUG guys.

We all decided to bring him along. I took the responsibility of carrying him. And man, he was heavy for a little pup. Despite having a camera, a backpack and a tripod, I carried him. Once in the vehicle, the pup would cry and would only stop if I attend to him. Instant bonding!!! Me, now a surogate parent to this poor fella.

We reached the foot of the volcano just after daybreak and we decided to trek up to the crater. By this time, everybody we met took notice of this puppy like a celebrity and everytime they asked, we would tell them we only picked him up from nowhere.

As we had our ascend to the crater, I let the pup just walk and run with us. He would gamely follow us and would start to cry if he senses that I/we were gone (hahahha). Sometimes he would attempt to go back down. Sometimes he would chase and go with a horse that crossed our way. He did the walking and running until his tongue is almost on the ground (dont say animal cruelty, he seem to enjoy our company).

From this point onwards, I decided to carry this stocky little fella. I got him comfortable inside a Microsoft bag. All the way up to the crater, and he would just sleep inside the Microsoft bag. If he gets too heavy, I rest and he would just sleep beside me.

As soon as we reached the top, we let him loose. He would snoop around and he would sleep, watch the tourists around, eat, drink, etc. Seems he was happy with his life while my foot, my shoulder and my back were aching becuase of you know who.

We had our time photographing the beautiful volcano until it was time to go home. One thing wasn’t settled. I cannot bring him home. Pups were not allowed in my place. Dennis, Vince and Mike says … uh uh … negative!

Then we all decided to give him to a man who got to like him and found out he was assigned to provide security in the area.

Problem solved. But I felt sad to leave a new found friend behind. But the pup looks contented to be there and he looks happy and he seem to want to stay behind.

It was time to go, we bade goodbye and left.

I hope to go up there again with the PHISSUG guys and hopefully get to see how this pup had become. He must be a handsome dog now. The PHISSUG guys should reunite with an old friend someday!

This pup, the PHISSUG guys named him TAAL!

Toto Gamboa is a consultant specializing on databases, Microsoft SQL Server and software development operating in the Philippines. He is currently a member and one of the leaders of Philippine SQL Server Users Group, a Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) chapter and is one of Microsoft’s MVP for SQL Server in the Philippines. You may reach him by sending an email to