Sunday, February 17, 2008

Angeles City, Pampanga Food Trip: Susie's Cuisine

Subsequent to our trip to the 12th Hot Air Balloon Festival was an exciting venture for a food trip in Angeles City, Pampanga since it is the town adjacent to Clark. Just like a typical tourist who would want an information on recommended places or restaurants to visit in a specific province, I'm sure you would also want to have idea on which food store to visit for pasalubong
if you are in Angeles City, Pampanga. Here's one for your reference.

We checked out Susie's Cuisine, (known to be the best in pampango kakanin) to get our own picks of favorites cooked the Susie's Cuisine way.

Ube halaya topped with latik. P20 per slice. Highly recommended.

Putong Ube and White Puto with itlog na maalat (salted egg) as toppings. Sorry, I wasn't able to recall the price. Moderately recommended.
(On the background is the Ube halaya as seen in the first photo.)

Tibok-tibok topped with latik. (Pampanga's very own kakanin). P20 per slice. Highly recommended.

Leche Flan. P70 per pice. Highly recommended.

Spicy dilis (anchovies) teriyaki style. Sorry, I wasn't able to recall the price. Higly recommended.

Embotido measuring 6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. P120 per piece. Highly recommended. The best embotido I've tasted so far. Would you know of other food stores that sell yummy embotido?

Have an appetizing gastronomic adventure!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, Clark Field, Pampanga

I thought the planned trip to Clark, Pampanga will no longer materialize until I got a confirmation that it will push through on a Sunday, the last day of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. At exactly 4:00 am, we were headed to our destination wishing to be there a little early than the scheduled start of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Luckily enough, we arrived just in time. Thanks to J for the DOT VIP pass that she was able to get from her friend. :)

With a DOT pass, we were able to free ourselves from shelling out P350 bucks for the photographer's entrance fee, and we had a chance to get a very close view of the humongous balloons as well as the preparation needed -- from laying the giant material on the vast field, to inflating it with hot air; to the preparation of taking off from the ground; to flying slowly to the high grey skies.

Notice how the huge cloth on the field metamorphose into a full-blown balloon. Several people are required to assist in the preparation.

Just merely looking at those colorful creations transform into an enthralling pieces work of art breathe lightness of feeling in me. Such a simple yet wonderful experience!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

LTO Student Permit

I finally got my Student Permit for driving at the Land Transportation's Office (LTO) in BIAK na BATO, Bgy. Siena, Quezon City. If I would rate my experience there in a scale of 1 to 5, I would rate it 2. Why? Let me give my reasons, as follows:

1. BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE - I arrived there at 2:30 pm, and I was happy that the man I approached where I should go helpfully directed me to windows 6 and 7. I was glad that there's no queue. I opted to inquire from the girl at window 6. I was wondering why she seem to be so engrossed looking at her computer (in fairness, I saw she was doing something) knowing that there's a "customer" (me) already present at the window and would definitely need her assistance. I waited for around 2 minutes. I respected that she was still finishing something so I patiently waited for several minutes more before finally asking her about securing a student permit. Because of that first encounter, I can say that the clerk assigned in window 6 does not care about GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE. No greeting or whatever or even asking what I need until I ask her and break her from what she was doing.

After asking how to secure a student permit, she gave me a form to fill out, so I went on filling it out and gave it back to her. She asked me to submit 2x2 picture and any document that bears my birth date. I was ready so I immediately submitted requirements to her. I was told that my name will just be called. I want to ask for how many minutes will I wait but since I knew that the queue is not long, I suspected that it will just take a few minutes.

I don't want to think that government agencies do not care about GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE but with what I've experienced, I felt sorry and my hope declined that government service is not getting any better. I wonder if LTO management gives any effort toward working on it. (Tell me, do I just have high expectations?).

2. SLOW PROCESSING - As I've said, the girl told me that my name will just be called. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour had passed but my name has not yet been called. This time, I pondered on the reason for taking them so long to call my name for the next process. I approached the girl at window 6 and asked again. I was informed that it really takes time since my application is new so the verification, encoding or whatever process they may have next in the computer would take really long. Five (5) minutes past 1 hour, finally my name was called for the picture taking. It was a sort of consolation since it just took the process 1 minute to be completed. Then again, this does not compensate for the completion of the entire process.

I was hopeful that I will be able to get that small piece of document within 5 or 10 minutes. In that sense, I managed to be calm and patient. After 10 minutes of waiting, again, I mused, what's taking it so long? I know I've already lost patience so I approached window 6 and asked if I can just go back the next day. The girl asked if I had paid, I said not yet. So, she asked me to wait until my name is called again because my papers are still the with approving officer. Once my name gets called, I will proceed to the cashier for the payment. Then, I have to surrender the papers back to her. Bottomline is, I cannot go back the next day. I have to wait for it. I was told that the reason for the slow processing was because it was the last day of registration for vehicles whose plate numbers end in 1 and 2. I find it strange because there are windows dedicated in processing registrations.

Anyhow, I walked toward the bench and remained seated. After another 10 minutes of waiting, my name was already called and so I paid P142.63, which was rounded off to P143. I understand there's no change so the rounding off done was acceptable enough.

After issuing payment, I was asked again to wait until my name gets called. Oh my, for a simple encoding of payment, why don't they just finish transacting one customer at once before accepting the next customers in line?

Roughly after 10 minutes, the cashier called my name. Thank God!, I exclaimed. I got my papers from the cashier at window 8 and went back to window 6. I never left window 6 after giving my papers to the girl. I remained standing there hoping to give pressure to the clerks processing my student permit. I guess it worked, within 5 minutes, a guy handed me my computerized ID and official receipt. Well, all I can say is .... Thank God!

Imagine, for such a small document, 1 hour and 30 minutes will have to be spared when it can be finished in a shorter time. I was still lucky because there is no queue in that branch. If I went there with many applicants present, how many more hours do I have to wait? (or should I say days? years?). I just hope that leaders of government agencies would really revisit the processes in order to give better if not the best service to the people / customer they serve. Am I hoping for a miracle here? I hope not.

My unsolicited suggestions for an improved service:

1. Display process flow charts to give first time applicants a silent orientation on what to do for a certain transaction (application of student permit or license, registration, etc.)

2. Instead of calling names over the microphone, give number assignments to each customer just like in banks. This way, the customer would be able to estimate the time he or she would be spending for his / her transaction. ( I would no longer suggest installation of Queuing Machine due to budget issues.)

3. Revisit and streamline their process.

4. Assign a standard turnaround time for completing each transaction.

5. Have a regular review of the agency's service level and customers' satisfaction.

Other useful info in getting a student permit:

1. Bring your birth certificate or marriage contract and 2 x 2 picture.
2. Bring your own pen since windows are not provided with counter pens.
3. Bring P 142.63 as payment. Here's the breakdown of what you will pay for:

Appication Fee : P 25.00
Student Permit Fee: 50.00
Computer Fee : 67.63

You will be issued with a computer-printed ID printed on a paper with LTO logo watermarks and an official receipt printed on paper with small blue logo of LTO printed on it.

Student permit's validity is one year.