Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hangin Out

No books or movies in my happy list this week. Instead, I hung out with a lot of friends. Much better than any book or movie.

Wednesday, Donemark and Jon took me and Ches out for dinner at Flapjacks. Part of their promotional activities as new partners of the firm to get clients. Good luck if we can afford their sky-high rates. Haha. I’m so proud of and happy for both of them. As Loudette said, there are none more humble than those two to get the partnership. And none more deserving, too. I’m so looking forward to being best friends with truly filthy rich people, which Jon and Donemark are well on their way to becoming. Haha.

Friday, I went on leave to attend to personal matters. Lani also asked me out to lunch bcoz she was promoted, but she had to bring her son to the hospital so we had to move that. Instead, I come across Regina in MoA, and we chatted up while I waited for Ches in Starbucks, and he ended up taking us to dinner in Hongkong Emperor bcoz he was also promoted. (Hmm, everyone seems to be getting promotions this year except me. Haha.) Of all the restos in MoA, it’s HK Emperor I miss most bcoz it hasn’t branched out anywhere. All my other favorites – Abe, Yakimix, Sebastian’s, White Hat, Red Mango – are also in Trinoma and elsewhere. We had a blast, too, playing The Never Game, where you have to claim something you’ve never done or never had that all the others in the game already have (an idea I got from Rosa). We had so much fun we were at it texting away even on our way home. Haha.

Saturday morning, Thom comes over to give Ches downloaded movies and TV shows and workout videos, and for me, a software to resize my pix for my blog (haha). I also ask him to take a look at Yoshi’s Bloggie bcoz the pix at night look blurry (it turns out it’s really better suited for daylight pix coz it has no flash). Thom is our ever reliable resident Handy Manny. Haha.

In the afternoon, I see all (except Andrea, Rhoel, and Donemark) my QT friends at the post-birthday bash of Chuchi and Gabby in Burgoo. It was so much fun. It was funny how some of us got fat (or so we think so), others got thin, and all of us got old. Haha. Now we talked about diets (or the lack of it, in my case) and illnesses like carpal tunnel syndrome and stuff, and some of our little babies have turned into fully-grown adults right before our very eyes (gasp). It was heartening, too, how after all these years, we never really change. No matter how many designer bags Loudette and Chuchi accumulate, and how many times Mailyn and Mayie travel around Europe, deep down we’re all still the same old PG lawyers, lapping up all the freebies we can get our hands on, and not letting up until we taste The Most Awaited Blowout from the new partners Jon, Donemark, and Christine. Haha. I love my QT gang. We started our law careers together 11 years ago, and got married and became parents at around the same time, and I’m so glad that we’ve managed to keep in touch despite all the years and changes.

Later that night, Robert, Eycee, and Regina hang out at home. There never has to be an agenda with these kids – we just do our usual stuff of catching up, being obscene, tormenting Robby, and abusing Aizza (haha). We spend hours and hours just being nonsensical like that. Haha. We also enjoyed the cocktails that Regina brought and mixed right in our kitchen. (This guy is also a chef among other things. He concocts something yummy for all of us right in our kitchen on a regular basis.)

In an office training last year, I learned that I’m a visual person (as opposed to an auditory or tactile one) bcoz I put premium on what I see and what is actually right before my eyes. While I enjoy texting or emailing friends, I derive a lot more joy out of actually meeting them and chatting them up for hours and hours.

Which I guess explains why I’m not on FB. Haha.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our Favorite Children’s Books

Yoshi had this brilliant idea the other night, to take pictures of all of his favorite books using his Bloggie. I told him I’ll take pictures, too, and write a blog about it.

This is a beautiful book inside and out, with short, simple Bible stories, and vivid drawings. Yoshi refers to this book when he has CL lessons he can’t easily understand. The best part is, it was a gift to Jack from his grandparents, and Babette lovingly passed it on to my boys. Owww.

This is a pasalubong from Lola Ninay from her US trip. Loaded with facts and exquisite pop-ups in each page. Probably more expensive than any book I own. Haha. Ches and I look at these kinds of books given to the boys and tell them, if we had your books when we were kids, we would’ve grown up smart like you, too. Haha.

This is a unanimous favorite of Yosh, Boots and me. Little Rabbit asks what makes a rainbow, and Mommy Rabbit points him to his colorful animal friends. A satin ribbon appears in every page, and in the last page the ribbons form all the colors of the rainbow. So lovely and unique.

Mayie gave Yoshi Joseph Had A Little Overcoat on his first Christmas (I think). It’s a beautiful story with amazing drawings. There’s even a cut-out in every page depicting the overcoat, to when it became a vest, a tie, etc., until it was no more than a button. When I saw the other Simms Taback book I Miss You Everyday in Powerbooks, I just had to buy it, too.

These are more Bootsie’s kind of thing. I bought the Dibo and Eric Carle book for him. Wiggle I got for Yosh. It’s too funny. We laugh and laugh when we read it. The others are birthday gifts for Boots.

Yoshi used to have this thing about Rainbow Fish books when he was younger. It’s expensive but he would throw a tantrum until we bought him one when we went to Powerbooks. The stories are no great shakes, but I guess he was mesmerized by the drawings of wonderful fishes with glittering scales.

Yoshi and Boots agree on only a few things, and horror stories are one of them. They just love all these tales about Halloween, ghosts, all kinds of enchanted creatures. I would complain, you two are such boys! And Yoshi would complain right back, you're such a girl! Hahaha.

I bought these two at the same time when Yosh was just a baby. Yoshi used to ask me or Ches to read him The Emperor and the Nightingale over and over. Sleep Tight, Mrs. Ming is another unanimous favorite. It’s lyrical and funny, and I personally love how Mrs. Ming the nanny is portrayed as a hero, and how Jeremiah ends up protecting her bcoz she’s scared of thunder and lightning. Sweet.

The Peter Rabbit and smaller Velveteen Rabbit books are gifts for Bootsie from Ninong Regie, who explained to me that he loved the stories when he was growing up. Ninong Regie gives the best educational gifts.

This is a gift from Andrea a few Christmases ago (together with Harold and The Purple Crayon and Curious George Visits the Zoo). This is a little heartbreaker of a children’s book. I cannot read it aloud to my kids without my voice breaking at some point. Sob.

This book is perfect for moms who might be just a little bit worried that their kids are not developing as fast as other kids of the same age. Lions are usually depicted in stories as strong and mighty and all of that, and it’s refreshing that here we have a lion who’s shy and awkward and a late bloomer.

These are all from Lola Gaya, given to Yosh piece by piece during that period when he was collecting all kinds of things – CDs, Happy Meal toys, books. A booklover like Yosh + a Lola who’s the head of the DECS English department in the province = meant for each other. Most of our favorite books are from her.

Boots loves these Sesame Street (from his Ninong Regie) and Little Einsteins (from Tita Phoebe) picture books. He also loves the giant Dora, Thomas, and Barney picture books with sounds and music from Tita Armi, but I didn't include them in the pix anymore as they are practically in tatters. I guess you can tell how much a book is loved by my kids by how worn and dog-eared it looks. Haha.

Oooh, Dr. Seuss! Another unanimous favorite. I think The Cat in The Hat and Green Eggs and Ham are two of the best children’s books ever written. Dr. Seuss is a true genius.

Babette started the boys on this Oswald collection, and also gave Yosh Mr. Chatterbox and the Rhino book. She knows Yoshi so well - Mr. Chatterbox is so him. Haha. The boys fight over these Oswald books on a regular basis. Groan.

The boys are absolutely fascinated by this book that I got for them. It’s an A to Z book, with each letter of the alphabet represented by some mystical circus ride described in a rhyme, and accompanied by amazing drawings. It’s not for me, but it is pretty cool, I have to admit.

We all love the Backyardigans. They’re too cute. With them, I don’t have to worry about my boys picking up bad things (as in the wrong messages that Spongebob sometimes sends). They’re all innocent adventures thru and thru. (All together now: “We’re backyard friends, the Backyardigans … We’ve got the whole wide world in our yard to explore …”)

Of course, knowing me, I have my own personal collection of children’s books. Haha. I have the complete Roald Dahl set, I think (except James and The Giant Peach which I gave to Thom). I’m hoping the boys will also like these as much as I do when they’re older.

I also have Neil Gaiman’s children’s books. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish is pure brilliance. Coraline is one of the first Gaiman books I read. It’s better than Alice in Wonderland, in my opinion. The Graveyard Book is one of those books that are just screaming out for a sequel. (It was only when I was taking this pix that I realized I have yet to read M is for Magic.)

I forgot who gave this to the boys, but I love this touching little story about a shoemaker whose second daughter is born with no feet. He makes all these amazing pairs of shoes for her, anyway, one for each of her birthdays, and she dreams of them in vivid detail, thus allowing her to wallow in their beauty if only in her dreams. Owww. Isn’t that so heartbreaking? It’s no wonder this is a first prize Palanca awardee.

I love Care Bears, Precious Moments, and Eeyore. Enough said.

Judith Viorst is too funny. I remember Kai read Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day for a Comm or Hum class in UP. Which just goes to show how brilliant these books are, that they are required reading for college.

I also have this collection of Little Golden Books. The Little Mermaid was a gift from Gay in college. The Rescuers is really old and worn, but I love it bcoz of the song in the movie version, Someone’s Waiting For You, which Pops recorded for me and Ate when we were just little girls. Ches hates The Princess and The Pea with a passion. He says it’s wrong and pointless to celebrate as some kind of a heroine a girl who can’t get to sleep all bcoz there’s an eeny weeny pea at the bottom of her 60 million mattresses. And I told him, are you kidding me? I LOVE The Princess and The Pea. It’s so me. Hahaha.

(Cafe Princess and The Pea at Ho Chi Minh.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy List 24

1. Yoshi’s Maldita Comment of The Week, after I tell him to cut the funny faces for these ID pix that we needed: kung bawal ako mag-wacky pose, bawal ka din mag-maldita face. Hahaha.

2. Bootsie’s new song from school, Skinny Marie, complete with hand movements and butt shimmy. Super cute.

3. Chatting up with Jon and him offering to get me a bag on his trip to Russia. Haha. He even comments that my sunflowers D&B bag from Ate is made for me. Owww. The mark of a true friend is when he pretends to be interested in something he couldn’t care less about just bcoz you like it.

4. Undies galore from Accessorize. Omg, I got crazy again hoarding the frilly, floral, polka-dotted, animal-printed undies coz they were at 70 off. I’m an addict, I know. I also finally bought this vintage floral sling bag that I’ve been eyeing for the longest time, even if it was ‘just’ at 50 off. It’s worth it bcoz it makes me so happy having it. Haha.

5. Dinner with my IT friends from MWC. I have 60 million friends from MWC, I swear. This group I got close to bcoz they were my group mates in this planning session when I was barely a month old in the office. They took me in and treated me like an adopted sister (they’re about ten years older than me) and we’ve been friends since. I’m glad we managed to stay in touch even if I’m already on my second job after MWC. They’re all so nice to me. They don’t treat me like a lawyer at all and with them I can just be this little girl who makes a lot of crazy jokes. This is at least the third time they treated me to Daeyang, our favorite Korean resto. (They’re all obsessed with Koreanovelas. Ate Gina even orders in Korean.) I also invited them home so we could devour the Death by Tablea cake I ordered from Chocolat. Good food, good friends.

6. Ate Ann’s birthday, which we celebrate by trying out Di Mark’s pizza (since I went to this office training where the speaker named Di Mark’s as the best pizza place in the country). My favorite was the Italian sausage swimming in olive oil and garlic bits. I’m so going back to this place and eating that with mountains of rice. Haha. Ches also treated all of us to my favorite gelato place, Caramia in Amici. The pistachio used to be the one flavor I didn’t like out of all their goodies, but Ches ordered it and even that was yummy now. I had the Almond Roca, Yosh the sansrival, and Boots the nocciola, which is what usually have. All yummy, but the sweetest and best one for me was Yoshi’s. Heaven in a cone.

7. The Art of Racing in The Rain by Garth Stein. Easily one of my favorite reads this year, even if it made me cry and cry. It’s poignant, hilarious, and refreshing (the whole story was told from the point of view of Enzo the dog). It’s definitely happiness when a bestseller lives up to all the hype.

8. Diary of A Wimpy Kid. I didn’t read the book, and saw it only bcoz it was the only title I recognized out of so many Thom loaded into my laptop. Typical pre-teen Hollywood movie. I liked Rowley the sidekick more than the lead. And the villain big brother with the guyliner – so lanky and hot. Haha.

9. Where The Truth Lies with Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth. It’s the kind of suspense drama where you don’t have to think a lot and everything is spelled out for you. Haha. I loved the country home of the murdered girl, with the clapboards, screened porch, and wide garden overlooking a lake of some sort. Totally irrelevant to the movie. Haha.

10. Being able to remember something you used to know and temporarily forgot. I’m one of those obsessive people who lose sleep trying to place the title of a movie, name of an actor, line in a book, etc. And it’s absolutely frustrating when it’s something you can’t Google. It was like when my boss took us to Chelsea and I noticed that this resto between Abe and Sentro that we used to go to in MWC was no longer there and I couldn’t remember its name, so I had to email Thom all the way in the US and after a while he answered: Portico. Perfect. I was so relieved and happy. Haha. And then I was trying to recall the name of that store in MoA where Randy and I got my funky lamp embroidered with birds, the same place that sold the Hello Kitty teapot that got away from me. And a few days after, just like that, it came to me: Color and Life. Aaaah, happiness.

11. A date with Ches to Islands Massage and Lutong Macau. I didn’t like the spa at all bcoz the masseuse was texting while massaging me! Omg. Of all the spas we’ve been to, this is the first time it ever happened. If I hadn’t already paid for the thing I would’ve walked out on her, I swear. I found out from Ches that his masseuse was doing the same thing. Aaargh. Lousy, lousy service. Anyways, I was just happy to spend some bonding time with my hubby. We so enjoyed Lutong Macau where the QT gang and I ordered many of our OT dinners. We had all my old favorites – the lechon macau, hakaw, and wanton noodle soup. Perfect comfort food after the horror spa. Haha.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day Off

I was in Taal Vista last week for the strat planning of this corporate governance group that I’m a part of. I’m no longer in a listed company and hence all the CG requirements are not part of my job anymore, but I want to keep updated on the practice just the same. CG is about the one thing in the legal profession that I can get passionate about.

I remember at my panel interview in SM, I came up with this gem when asked why I would give up my post as head of Legal in MWC for the new CG department in SM: any lawyer can draft a contract or file a pleading or close an acquisition project, but if you’re a lawyer doing corporate governance, then you can really make a difference, bcoz you would be in a position to tell the company to behave and mind its ethics. Naks. Classic, huh. It was so the Ayala way, the way I put it like that. And I actually still believe in that whole cheesiness, traumatic SM experience and all. Groan.

So off I went to MWC to ride with Thom. I was early (since I make it a point to be always early when I’m hitching a ride. One of my few good qualities. Haha.) so I got to chat up a bit with all my old friends in Finance. I’ve missed them all. It’s always like coming home when I visit MWC. It is hands down my favorite of all the previous offices I’ve worked in.

Thom and I had lunch at the Zong in Paseo de Sta Rosa. Zong was one of those fine restos that were already in the Fort when QT moved there eons ago (when the area was still barren and undeveloped, a far cry from the bustling commercial hub that it now is). The partners treated us there all the time and we’d also order food there for our practice group lunch meetings. Anyways, I ordered my favorite Chinese dishes – salt and pepper spare ribs and hot prawn salad – and Thom ordered the fried chicken wrapped in salted egg or egg yolk. Yumminess.

Thom also had a hidden agenda for stopping by Paseo. It’s outlet stores galore and he wanted to get shoes and sports stuff for his futsal game that weekend. He was able to buy a Mizuno pair and the funny long socks thing. Of course, I wasn’t about to be left behind and got myself this lovely pair of leopard printed pumps from Aerosoles. It’s funky, but at the same time sensible (look at those low heels), so it’s definitely wearable at the office.

It was like old times with Thom again. We used to do this all the time in MWC with Paula or Didoy – we’d head off early to Ayala Tower or somewhere in Makati for a meeting or some IR or board event, and we’d end up in Greenbelt or Serendra pigging out and shopping around. That was The Life.

Liz, the secretary of the group, was also in the planning, and brought her family along. I love Liz. She’s so smart and hardworking and fierce, too. I’m proud to say that it was I who pirated her from this business partner that MWC had in one of the projects I worked on. She inherited my maldita throne in MWC. Haha. Calee is super cute and sweet. The epitome of sugar and spice and everything nice. I felt a pang and missed my boys everytime I saw her.

Regina was also around. He’s the treasurer and in charge of the logistics of the whole junket. (He's come a long way from being Best In Smile, that one. Haha.) We had fun, as usual, doing what he calls our tag team bashing. Haha. (We watched the cultural dance number during lunch, and this lone girl had to carry on her head something like 60 million clay pots, while all that the rest of the girls had to do was a lot of chanting and stomping. Unfair, huh. I told Reg, that girl had to do a death defying act bcoz she’s not as pretty as the others. In the next number, she’s going to swallow bubog. Thom added, flat chested sya pati. Ouch. Haha.)

The chairman of the group was there, too, of course. He was my classmate at the five-day CG course that made us both ICD fellows. I love that old man. He’s so funny and cool about everything, never taking things seriously, despite his stature. He’s the opposite of the typical know-it-all, insufferable lawyer. I want to be exactly like him when I grow old. His jokes alone made the road trip worth it.

It was buffet all around but I liked only the salad that I flooded with nuts and cheese, and the beef nilaga soup. What’s wrong with you, Taal Vista? Your hotel is vintage and you have the best view of the volcano, but your food – gosh, it downright sucks.

Another bummer was, a whole clan swooped down on my wing at dawn for an early morning wedding. I was woken up by the noise of kids running around and adult voices at the top of their lungs before it was even 5 AM. I was extremely tempted to barge in on all their excitement and ask them, ‘First time nyo sa hotel? Wala pang nagturo sa inyo ng hotel etiquette?’ They were at it until I left for breakfast, where I was greeted outside my door by no less than the bride herself, in full regalia and being loudly coached to do certain poses along the hallway by a gang of photographers. I told them: You guys are so loud. You’re not at your house, you know. Ok, I did feel guilty ruining a girl’s wedding day like that, but they did act like they owned the place, and at dawn, too! All I expected was some manners and a few more hours of sleep. Grrr.

Anyways, it was still a happy break for me, just getting away and bonding with my old friends. Like I told Ann when she texted to ask how it was going, it’s definitely a lot more fun than being cooped up in the office working. Haha.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Seasonal Love

by Lily Pond

Make love like winter: coldly.
Make love like spring -
finding delight in each new action.
Make love like summer: hotly.
Make love like autumn - lingeringly slow,
as though it may be the last time.

(From Pillow, Exploring The Heart of Eros)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy List 23

1. Surprise weekend visit from Rosa, bearing cheese rolls from this place called Cakeland in the province, arranged in a lovely pink and chocolate brown box (I love that combination). So yummy. Cheese rolls are my and the boys’ favorites. (Thanks, Rosa! I love you =)

2. Motherhood with Uma Thurman and the scary-looking Minnie Driver. It’s one of those stories that take place in just one day. Light and breezy and not quite the unflinching look at motherhood that it touted itself to be, but still entertaining.

3. Chuchi’s planning a party for her baby and I told her about this cool shop in Greenhills where she can get gazillions of PvZ stuff. She says, I miss you, shopping buddy! Oww. I miss her, too. I still remember when we were in the law firm and would time our SEC visits when the mall across the road was on sale. Hahaha. The grand old days.

4. Jon and I chat up about visa applications, and when I tell him I’m worried I won’t pass, he says: papasa ka naman basta wag ka lang mag-maldita sa interview. HAHAHA. Funny Jon. Parang si Yoshi lang.

5. Fierce emails from this group in the office that I call Team Good Governance. Needless to say, I am so on the side of this team. Hahaha.

6. Dinner at Florabel’s, with their award-winning adobo with kesong puti, grilled lapu-lapu, and walnut balls with fudge. Super yummy. Ches and I were envisioning a fancy dinner that involved wine and good food and some good old flirting in the glow of a flickering candlelight (haha). All the elements were present, but then so were our two boys (who just would not be left home and insisted to tag along). So, goodbye romance, hello, parenthood. (No worries, Chestnuts. Next time, we’re locking the boys up in the attic. Mwa ha ha.)

7. New Hello Kitty bag and purse, just bcoz. Haha.

8. Promod polka dot dress, ballet flats with huge pink flowers, and several accessories. I’m liking Promod more and more. It’s so French. Haha.

9. More Hero sausages, when we buy the Imax tickets and again when we watch Harry Potter

10. Lunch with Aizza at Teriyaki Boy, her treat from her first salary in her new job. My all-time favorite here is the tofu steak. Heaven in a hot plate. (Thanks, Aizza. I love you =)

11. Emails from my favorite diva owner, bcoz some forces are putting on the pressure on me again, and so she says I have her ‘unqualified’ support. Owww.

12. Pops’ saba con hielo. He’s been making this for us since we were kids. So sweet and yummy.

13. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares. Loads better than her other work, The Last Summer of You and Me. A fresh, brilliant take on the whole time travel love story genre. The ending felt inconclusive, tho. It was like it was building up to this great, fantastic tale, so when the ending comes, you expect just a little bit more, and are let down, and can’t believe that that’s it. This is one of those stories that are so crying out for a sequel.

14. Definitely, Maybe. I appreciate rom-coms that don’t insult your intelligence. This is one of the smartest ones I’ve seen. It doesn’t resort to fantastic twists or unnecessary drama and the characters are all likeable. (Chuch, you look pala like Isla Fisher. And she played the ultimate shopaholic Becky Bloomwood, too. Libre. Haha.) Abigail Breslin is so good. My humble suggestion is: if you’re going to put child actors in a film, might as well make the story all about them bcoz they always just steal the show from the adults, anyway. (I like Ryan Reynolds, too, and felt bad when he split up with Scarlett Johannson. I’ve liked her since Lost in Translation and now in all those steamy Mango ads. How hot can a girl get?)

15. My favorite aunt in-law and her son coming over from Shanghai and staying with us for several days. She brought us hazelnuts, a fancy jar of tea, and chopsticks for pasalubong. We go to all the halo-halo places she missed, like Little Quiapo and Goldilocks, walk around the UP campus, and visit her Grass unit. I love that my in-laws are always sleeping over at our house bcoz then it convinces Ches that they like me and hence, I’m not such the evil girl he’s always accusing me of being. Hahaha.