Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy List 36

1. Moon Leaf madness. I’m seriously addicted to this milk tea. I need to have it everyday. It’s yet another place where my money goes when it should be headed to the bank. Aaargh. I even exchange jars of C-Lium from the office for tall glasses of Moon Leaf with Thom. Haha.

2. Kettle potato chips from Thina. Owww. I love Kettle potato chips.

3. Red Ribbon empanada and ensaymada from MIB, for our weekly meeting. I’m not exactly a fan of the things, but free food in meetings is always welcome. Haha.

4. Breakfast meeting at Dome, where I had the Croque Madame and giant raspberry iced tea. Yumminess. They also played the coolest songs like Soul Sister, You Gotta Be, and Ides of March that instantly perked me up for the long work day ahead.

5. Lunch meeting at Penang in Shang Mall. Malaysian cuisine is not among my favorites, but I loved the mango sago dessert.

6. The craziest names that Paula and I came up with for Thom’s realty firm. Thom is like our little brother whom we love to tease and boss around all the time. Haha.

7. Foot and hand spa, mani/pedi at Spa 101. The bliss that comes from having your nails soaked, scrubbed, trimmed, and polished is severely underrated.

8. Revel bars and food for the gods from Chestnuts

9. Lunch with Ann at Pancake House. When we have meetings at Eton that last till lunch, Pancake House is our default lunch place. We both love the pan chicken. It’s my favorite fried chicken, I think. And Ann is my favorite lunch mate out of everyone in the office bcoz she’s constantly kind, so stable and reliable. She listens to me and I feel I can trust her with everything. She always acts the adult between the two of us when I’m actually several years older.

10. Hanging out with marketing and advertising peeps when we all troop together to the ASC hearings. I always look forward to gaining new perspectives from colleagues in other areas of the business. Their work is so much more exciting than Legal will ever be. Haha.

11. Lunch meetings at Bon Chon and Ba Noi, this Vietnamese place that served even better pomelo salad and fresh spring rolls than Pho Bac. I also loved the chicken curry dish and the pork chop even if it tasted like your regular Pinoy home-cooked pork chop than anything Vietnamese.

12. Hello Kitty slippers for Ate and me. I got me a Kitty CD case, too. Just bcoz. There never has to be a reason to buy a Kitty.

13. Thom doing all the work in getting me an iPad, my advance Christmas gift for the boys. All I had to do was pay up and hand the gift to the boys. I thank him and tell him he is hands down My Most Reliable Friend Ever and he says: basta ikaw and basta kaya. Owww. I love Thom forever.

14. MIB opening up to me about his disappointments at work, how one owner told him I’m so easy to work with and not at all abrasive (he so doesn’t know me, right? Hahaha), and making this joke about ‘sampalok at yakap’. I almost didn’t have the heart to explain that sampalok is tamarind and the correct word is sampal. HAHAHA. Too cute. The girls died laughing when I told them.

15. Bootsie going around the house singing It’s A Small World, which he learned from school for the UN program. He’s too cute everyday.

16. Yoshi’s exams are finally over!!!

17. The boys teasing me that I’m The Opposite of Annie. Annie is this character in Dibo (the gift dragon) whose traits are best summed up in her little song: I’m Annie, I’m kind, I love to cook. I don’t know who between the boys started the joke that I’m exactly the opposite of Annie. HAHAHA. Riot. I’ve got to admit, tho – they do have a point.

18. Meeting with Top People at Manila Pen, where I didn’t have to talk too much and could quietly enjoy my bagel with salmon and cream cheese, and grapefruit juice. Haha.

19. Yoshi singing stuff from iCarly, Victorious, and Big Time Rush all day. These are his latest obsessions, and they’re all tween shows. While I’m happy that he’s happy, I’m also worried that his tastes have evolved so fast. I kind of want him to stay a little boy and loyal to Justice League and Marvel Heroes forever. Haha.

20. Fishball soup at Toast Box, followed by chocolate cake and pistachio sansrival from Parvati. It was Karen who told me all about Parvati. I never went in before bcoz it just had this small glass case from the outside, and I thought that was all they sold. It turns out they have all kinds of award-winning homemade desserts. Omigosh, it’s sugar heaven. I’m so buying from this place every week now.

21. Karen managing a toxic project and holding her own against Difficult People In The Office while I’m away in my 60 million meetings last week. She’s quiet but tough, confident without being arrogant, and knows how to impose a professional distance while still being warm to the staff. Even Ann and MIB like her. She has exceeded our expectations in the short time she’s been with us. (Go, UP girls! Haha.)

22. A fierce email that I sent to MIB right before the long weekend: I do not appreciate working late and alone on these contracts that they needed to be signed urgently. I tell Ches about these snootiness that I spread all the time in the office and show him the emails to prove my point. He scratches his head and double checks whether I addressed them to the bosses and owners. I think he’s torn between giving me a standing ovation for my sheer audacity, and worrying that I will soon get fired for being way too much. Hahaha. I love me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

With A Little Help From My Friends

Between Yoshi's nosebleed quarterly exams, Ches and I coming to the difficult decision to let Ate Rhea go bcoz of her family problems, the myriad of office issues that take up all my super snooty powers to resolve - I've been staying sane with a little help from my friends.

I had dinner with Thom, Regie, and Liz. (Too bad Paula couldn't make it, bcoz it was also Ice's exams. Sigh, motherhood.) We had The Most Giant Bento Box Ever at Sumo Sam. Thom was teasing me that the bento box was so meant for me. Haha. Good food, but somehow nothing comes close to Omakase. (Maybe Furusato, Sugi, and Kamameshi, but still not quite.) Reg also brought me two big packs of whole cashews from a recent trip to Vietnam, and Thom gave me Hello Kitty earrings. Owww. I love my MWC friends. Liz tells me about this girl in the office that she's hating, and I ask if she wears colored contacts. She does! Unbelievable. Hahaha.

Ann also got me this fierce wooden bracelet from Boracay, in black, beige, and chocolate brown. I absolutely love it. If I were to go in a store and choose from an array of bracelets, I would get exactly this one.

Rosa emailed me when she found Hello Kitty's long-lost father in the Internet. HAHAHA. Too funny.

Pie also emailed me this:

OMIGOSH. Cath Kidston is opening a store in Bangkok in December. This is absolutely The Best News All Year. Hahaha. I'm so going to Bangkok for the third time just to see Cath Kidston. Within minutes from getting the email from Pie, I was searching for flights and hotels and bugging Eycee to go with me. Hahaha. I'm so there, mark my word.

M and I also got to chat a lot about SM and our new jobs, our old friends and enemies. We lose touch sometimes when things get too busy, but all it takes is one text and we are so back to how we were when we were like The Last Two Friends Standing in SM. I will never forget how she helped me during those dark days when I was flip-flopping between leaving and staying in SM, not only as The Eminent HR Head but more as a friend and elder sister. She is still, hands down, The Most Vicious Friend I Have Ever Had, and I will be the first to admit that I'm scared of her (along with probably the entire population of SM except for the owners hahaha), but I also love her. And I know she loves me back.

Ches and I also had dinner with Robert and Eycee at Friuli Tratoria. This place has been in our neighborhood for the longest time, but we never got around to trying it. The pizza was so good, but the real discovery was the gelato cakes. We are definitely bringing our kids here.

Eycee and I spent the night being obscene and laughing away as usual, while Robert gave us his trademark evil eye. I'm sure I would hear and see a lot more from him if I didn't happen to be nearly as old as his mom. Hahaha. He's so strict, whereas Eycee and I are just so lawless. These two are definitely among Ches' and my favorite friends and couples. They are also so easy to talk to, so not complicated, so devoid of issues -if they wanna see us, they just show up, no questions, no excuses, just there present.

Jon also invited us over for lunch, to celebrate his birthday and brand new Montero (haha). The boys and I loved all of Malen's home-cooked dishes, from the crabs, prawns, rellenong bangus, embotido. If I were a domestic goddess like Malen, I would stop bothering to talk to anyone, I swear. Haha.

Jon also gave me matryoshka dolls from his latest junket (his and Donemark's first as partners) in Russia. Owww. I love dolls. And the ones he gave me are so fabulous and authentic. The boys couldn't get over how the biggest one actually contained six others inside it. Haha.

I love Jon. And Malen, too. And their unfairly good-looking kids. And their lovely house, Zen and minimalist but all warm and homey the way their family is, with the fabulous high ceiling, snooty artwork, and the vast backyard that is the envy of my kids.

Chuchi also texted to say she hates me bcoz I look so sexy in the wedding pix. She's crazy. Hahaha. I tell her, she's still and always will be our Resident Babe Lawyer. I kid you not. She was everyone's crush from APSM to QT. She's the kind of girl you don't wanna be friends with if you're single bcoz she gets all the guys. Haha.

Another friend also exchanged long texts with me over her love dramas. This was a pleasant surprise bcoz I'm not exactly The Love Guru. I can understand why friends would want my advice on career changes - after all, I'm the girl who's already on her fourth job after only a decade of working. Now love on the other hand - Ches is my first and last (but not necessarily only, I like to joke haha), and we've always had it so easy, so I don't really have much to bank on. Anyway, it's always happy when friends trust you with their secrets and dramas, bcoz it affirms that you might have some value added yet left in you, no matter how shallow and selfish you usually are. Haha.

Friends are definitely God's way of saying everything is all good, and life is still too happy to be wasted being tragic. Thank you, Lord, for all my wonderful friends.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Week That Was

There was too much drama in the office last week, even by my drama queen standards.

The Major Project that I have been working on since I got there was called off. This time for good, it looks like. Sigh.

I came up with yet another controversial document against Somebody Powerful, and as expected, was called in by the bosses and owners right the following day. No matter - I'm standing by the integrity of my decision.

The niece of one of the drivers drowned in a resort pool where there was no lifeguard on duty. You know how much the resort owner paid up for that young girl's life? One thousand five hundred friggin pesos. I was so mad I was shaking while drafting the demand letter.

On the bright side, I found out that one of the owners called me 'so responsive and conscientious' in an email I wasn't even copied in. Which should mean she wasn't just being showbiz about it, right?

Another owner surprisingly agreed with me on these issues we're facing in Another Thorny Project. It is definitely An Event when this particular owner agrees with me.

Also, this executive who has been pissing me off big time for a couple of weeks now suddenly started behaving. I guess My Strong Allies put some sense and The Fear of Unemployment into her.

And The Kind Boss emailed me on his way to the airport to thank me 'for being so tremendously helpful and responsive since the day you set foot in the office'. Owww. (It's not that I've been working so hard and suddenly transformed into Miss Eager to Please. The only reason these people are being so generous with their praises is that the former GC had Major, Major Issues about turn-around time and the quality of her output. Anyone with half a brain would have smelled good after her.)

We also launched our Most Scathing Ads Ever against this conglomerate that has been bullying us all year. Team Zaccheus finally learns to fight back, tho it was still tame and not nearly feisty enough by my standards. As a result, I have two hearings at the Ad Standards Council this week. I'd normally rather stay in the office and pretend to be busy, but this time I'm actually all psyched up for a showdown.

Of course, MIB has remained my compass and the paragon of sense and ethics when everything else is descending into madness. He easily gets my point and nods within the first three sentences into my long-winded arguments. He listens to all my angst and goes out of his way to encourage me even if he must have a lot of disappointments on his own. He even admitted to making a bad call about this person, and I was like, you don't have to apologize to me, you only own this company. He is, over all, so easy to love.

It's still definitely a happy place, dramas and all.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Our Favorite Tito Weds

Our favorite Tito Aaron got hitched over weekend. He is my best-loved and most popular in-law, not only to the two boys but to the rest of Chestnut's big clan, bcoz he's just too funny and crazy, definitely a stand-out in an otherwise normal and sensible family. Everybody, even my Mom, says when my kids are being too hyper: nagmana kay Tito Aaron.

He loves my kids, too. He gets down and rough with them, and has goodies for them every week from his trips all over the country for his job. For my kids, the highlight of our Sunday visits to my in-laws is when Tito Aaron finally makes an appearance. For all the rest of us, we look forward every year to Tito Aaron's and Tito Mark's program for the annual family reunion on Christmas Day, where we always end up laughing too hard. (There was even one year when all the grown male cousins, including my very own Chester, came up with this super hilarious dance number. That was The Best Ever. Haha.)

Even the wedding was typical Tito Aaron - unexpected and mind-blowing. He and Tita Jill have been together since their UP college days, and she is already a part of the family. Still, it was a surprise to everyone when he announced they were getting married barely three months before the date. What's more, it was going to be a triple wedding, bcoz Jill and her two sisters decided they wanted to take the plunge all together. They're all crazy, I know. Don't you just love them?

We were together last weekend and I was pestering Tita Jill about the logistics for the ceremony and all the boring details of married life like whether they're going to live in this property they bought in Batangas and all of that. She admitted that they haven't really figured out much beyond their honeymoon in Korea. Hahaha. I've always loved this girl since I first met her I think at my wedding almost ten years ago.

The best part was, Tito Aaron asked Vada to be a flower girl. Owww. I love Tito Aaron. Even Vada adores him and doesn't ever want to stop playing with him when we have family parties. (When Ate found out that Vada was going to be in the entourage, too, in addition to her two boys, she so badly wanted to come but couldn't bcoz of work. Just get a load of the pix, Ate =)

Vada came with Pops. I was so surprised that Pops could actually play the role of babysitter. I don't ever remember him watching over us when we were kids. It was Mom all the way. Hahaha. I guess it's true what they say - grandparenthood brings out a different instinct in you altogether, and gives you a second chance at whatever you may have missed the first time around with your own kids.

The kids were so well-behaved. We were so proud of them. They walked super slowly and wore solemn faces and really savored their time in the red carpet, to deafening applause from fans/relatives. (No, Ate, Boots didn't do The Nazi March. It was actually Tito Aaron who did a Nazi salute during his march with Lolo Ano and Lola Gaya. Unbelievable. Ches said, nagmana kay Bootsie. Hahaha.)

Yoshi had a grand time taking pix of everyone and everything in his Bloggie (as Ate asked him to). I asked Bootsie what his favorite part was and he said: 'eating the lechon skin'. Hahaha. He's my son, no doubt about it. My own favorite parts were the flowers - tulips and stargazers and mums - and the songs - not your traditional mushy ones but stuff like You and Me, Collide and even the strains of Viva La Vida. I also loved Daddy's speech where he said something like, 'You've been lovers for a long time, so Jill, I hope you don't change your mind and return Aaron to us tomorrow'. HAHAHA. I love Daddy. He's actually a lot more scathing in person. Ches is one of the saner members of that family, I tell you.

And now for the pix:

Could you have found better-looking kids for your wedding entourage? Haha.

The proud grandparents with their beloved apos. Yoshi went around calling his grandma 'Lola Imelda' the whole night. Hahaha.

Cousins-in-law and fellow stage moms, as we waited for our kids to march down the aisle. Don't you just love our color blocking?

More pretty cousins. Heidi, Portia, and Jaja are all grown-up. They were barely Bootsie's age when I first met them. (Ches and I are ancient, I know.) These girls (and Tita Kim, too) are obsessed with my kids. I love them.

Papa's favorite girls. (You should've been here, Ate =)

Bootsie loves his pillow.

Vada enjoyed the soup and fondue.

Our little family of love and joy. The boys were so sweet and kept complimenting me for my hair (super shorter than ever) and my dress. It's one of my favorite dresses and I've worn it several times, but this time its invisible zipper thing broke and worried me the whole night. Groan. (Like Ches likes to say: Only you, Jo. It could've happened only to you.) I had a stand-by extra Mango dress in the car just in case, but I really wanted to stick with this one bcoz it's a lot more fabulous. Haha.

With the radiant newly-weds who hopefully will soon be able to give us more little humans to love, made in Seoul and as crazy as our own babies.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This Is The Life

It’s one of your favorite things to say. Usually uttered when you’re lying on your favorite chair, with your feet dangling on one side, and sucking on your milk bottle while tuned in to Tuff Puppy or some other crazy Nickelodeon show. Or when you’re pigging out on fried rice and some crispy fried fish. Or when we watch videos of your favorite songs on Youtube. It is The Life, indeed.

You also like to say, I’m stressed! And even, I need space! These you say normally when we’re all together in the room or downstairs, and all of us are talking at the same time or looking for some small thing for which we have to turn the place upside down, or you and Kuya are fighting it up, as usual. You would suddenly stand up, cover your ears with your hands, and shout at the top of your lungs: Quiet, you guys! I’m stressed! I need space!

One time I even caught you in the middle of delivering a lecture to Kuya when he was sulking after we scolded him. You were saying: Everyone makes mistakes, Kuya. Even I make mistakes. Yes, all articulate and sensible like that! Spoken like you’re The Wisest Three Year Old Ever (not). Or you tease him when we’re studying while you’re free to just play all day. You go around saying, Ethan has a lot of school projects. Ethan must study and can’t play. You also tease me and call me ‘Miss Kith Cadston’, deliberately mixing it up to get a rise out of me.

You’re A Character, no doubt.

You know all these Big Words, but you’re still a baby thru and thru. I pick you up and carry you all around every time you let me. I’m taking advantage while you’re still at a weight I can carry. I know that by next year or so, you’ll be too heavy for me and that will be The End of My Baby-Lugging Years. (Or at least until the next baby comes along.) I yearn to carry Kuya sometimes when I’m feeling particularly mommyish, but it has become impossible (at 8, he’s already at my shoulder level), and I have to be content pulling him to my lap or squeezing him tightly.

Already we miss how you used to say ‘inee’ for ‘ice cream’, ‘poopoo pie’ for ‘buko pie’, and ‘idea’ for curtain rod (what’s this one all about, Bootsie?). You have gone so fast from being a baby to a pre-schooler, with all your new songs from school, all your stories about Aidan, LJ, Yuri, Ishi, Marthina, and Teachers Mae, Gel and Jere, learning your alphabet and numbers, writing your name. We immensely enjoy all of your new tricks – your action songs that you are always willing to perform for everyone without even the shadow of a bribe, your Invisible Hula Hoop, the march that you have been preparing for Tito Aaron’s wedding that we call The Nazi March bcoz it involves exaggerated hand and leg movements and a salute accompanied by a loud Hel-lo! (Tito Aaron will so die if you actually do this at his wedding.)

You only know one prayer so far. So when I asked you to pray bcoz there was a typhoon, you readily recited: God is good, God is great. Thank you, Lord, for our food today. Amen. You said the same prayer when I got sick after our Bora trip. Or when we went to the US embassy. Haha.

You love being tickled. You don’t even pretend to not like it. You love watching - yes, just watching - this guy you call Bob Taba in Tekken in Kuya's PSP. You are so easy to please and a love whore like me –the two of us so easily LOVE EVERYTHING. One time you woke up on the right side of the bed and declared, I looove this Thomas pillow! And the rest of the morning was all about how you looove that silly pillow. Another time I was dusting off my little teapot set from Vietnam, and we decided to play with it and you kept saying, I looove this teapot toy! Even the funny names that we invent – Sleepadoodads for dad, Tamadoodles for me – never fail to make you dissolve into giggles, no matter how many times we’ve said them, no matter how old they get. (We so need to up our standards and threshold for amazement and joy, Bootsie, lest we betray our real social status. Being picky and hard to please are apparently marks of The Truly Rich.)

Oh but you also exasperate us. All the time. You refused to brush your teeth every friggin night until I Have Had It and locked you in your as yet unoccupied room for a minute or so, a minute you spent in a dark room not being scared as we expected, but kicking the door with all your little might and furiously shouting, Open the door! (One other name we call you by is Angry Bird.) You’re not as tough as you pretend to be tho, bcoz even now The Threat of the Dark Room is still our one effective way of ever making you do or stop doing something.

You were also born with a fierce fashion sense and you never go out of the house without your trademark shades, watch, and cap. They are as much a part of you as your beloved (old, stinky, utterly shameful) blue Hello Kitty pillow. You often insist on wearing your black school shoes or PE sneakers with your weekend attire of jeans and polo, and you know, between mismatched outfits and the 60 million things a poor, lone mommy has to be on top of – this is a battle I am so prepared to let you win, Bootsie. (When I’m too stressed out or lazy or just plain selfish, my default answer to you and Kuya is: Whatever Makes You Happy. I’m just thankful the ‘Whatever’ has never included burning the house down or something like that. Or at least not yet anyway. Groan.)

You are also infamous for throwing The Mother of All Tantrums. At the most perfect times like when we’re fielding questions from the American consul guy during our US visa interview. Plus pooping 9 out of 10 times when we're out of the house. And somehow everyday for you is Fight Kuya Day. Whatever it is that Kuya is playing with, you want for yourself. Whatever it is that Kuya wants to watch on TV, you will have none of it. Kuya could just be sitting there writing one of his stories and being His Good Self, and you would find some reason to fight him up. (We so lucked out on Kuya, Bootsie, bcoz he gives way to you. All the time.)

For the most part we just let you be, bcoz you’re only three, after all, and still in that level of cuteness that makes everything you do forgiveable. (When you’re a little bit older and no longer as cute, then we can send you to jail. Haha.) And in the end, it’s all these little things – your adult statements, song and dance routines, fierce independence, the hair that just refuses to be combed down, your 60 million unanswerable questions – that make you so perfect everyday.

Last weekend, I forgot to pretend that I was scared of the underpasses along EDSA (a game we’ve had since you were a baby), but you didn’t forget and you held my hand, anyway, bcoz it was always your job to protect me from what we called The Dark Tunnel. Before I went to Singapore, Daddy told you (only half-jokingly?) that with me gone, it was your perfect chance to look for another mommy. You followed me downstairs where I went to get water and solemnly told me, I don’t want another mommy. You’re the best mommy for me.


Thank you, Bootsie, for loving me the way only you know how – loyally, fiercely, without judgment or question. I love you, too. I'm absolutely, insanely, boundlessly in love with you. You turn four in a couple of weeks, but be my baby for a little bit longer. Please.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy List 35

1. A trip to National Bookstore on a rainy weekend, to buy stuff for Yoshi’s projects and school supplies for Bootsie. National Bookstore is one of the few remaining stores where your P100 still goes a long way. And it has branches in Katips and Q Av near home so we don’t even have to go in a mall. I hate going to malls on weekends and would rather spend the time with my kids somewhere more creative.

2. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson. Heartbreaking in the way only teen romance novels can be. (Yes, I still read this genre. I gobble them up in one sitting.)

3. Lift by Kelly Corrigan. It’s a long letter from a mommy to her little girls, so they’ll remember how their childhood was when they’re all grown up. Poignant and funny in the way only motherhood can be. So good I finished it in one sleepless night.

4. Luminarc glasses from Gourdo’s, in the blue shade I JUST LOVE. I used to have this Breakfast at Tiffany’s kind of thing with all things homeware – I’d spend hour after hour looking at linen, plates, decor, furniture, at places like Gourdo’s, Living Well, Color and Life, Dimensione, and the home sections of Rustan’s and SM. (Two of my favourite gifts from Ches are the fondue set from Rustan’s and the cupcake set from Gourdo’s.) Of course, I often went beyond window-shopping and ended up actually buying a lot of things. Haha. I think I’ve kicked the habit for the most part, since we had our house renovated and I’ve seen for myself how all the stuff I’ve accumulated just don’t fit anymore in the kitchen cupboards. But I still can’t resist sometimes. Haha.

5. Krispy Kremes from MIB, that everyone but him munches on while we meet and discuss work updates. On hindsight, it was kind of embarrassing that I finished both the Snickers and Oreos donuts in the span of the meeting, in front of the boss who just sipped his tea as usual. Groan.

6. Sharing private jokes with MIB, as well as emails that are clearly not meant to be seen by anyone else in the office, and adjectives that my kids will easily censor as Bad Words. I was also close to my other favorite bosses, but they were more like mentors to me, whereas MIB is more like a friend. Imagine my surprise and joy. Haha. I guess it’s the fact that we’re the in same age bracket. Or maybe he’s just really a cool person. I love MIB. Have I already said that? I love MIB.

7. Another dear friend moving on from MWC. It’s a good company, no doubt, but I’m happy when my friends find something better and with the potential to make them happier. I was also touched that he sought my advice before he came up with The Decision. He’d call and we talked for hours. Owww. I love this guy. (The same thing happened with Lala altho our communication was by email and three-way with Babette. Thom is mad at me that I know about these major, major resignations months before he does and he’s the one in MWC. Haha.)

8. The famous sylvanas from Dumaguete from Karen. Not too sweet, just the right level of soft and crunchy, and over-all so yummy. Better than my favorites from Beard Papa.

9. Butterscotch and barquillos from Iloilo from Anji. I’ve never had staff who were so well-travelled, I’m telling you.

10. Quiet dinner, air time on work dramas, and a lot of hand-holding with my husband at Tokyo Cafe. All the stresses and sadness of life are manageable bcoz Ches is with me everyday.

11. Emailing Ate about every little thing, from Bambi biting Asians to seafood chowder to finding the perfect pair of polka dot tights from Kids of Bayo, to go with my Hello Kitty tutu. (I told you I get a lot of goodies from the kids’ section.) It turns out she has already made a list of all the restos she’s going to bring us to, including the best chowder place near Bryan’s place. Owww. My Ate is just like Ches – she knows exactly how to love me.

12. Amy Winehouse CD from Chestnuts. She was a real talent gone too soon. He also brings me and the boys revel bar, butterscotch, and chicharon from his office tiangge. (I miss the MWC tiangge all of a sudden.)

13. Pro bono and not to mention topnotch legal advice from Jon even if he is all tied up and all the way in KL, about this legal query that I’m working on for a friend. Jon has been ever reliable like this since law school. (I’m not going to say since PolSci bcoz he hardly showed up in class then. We called him The Absentee Heartthrob behind his back. Haha.)

14. Lunch with Karen at Kanin Club after a board meeting. I’ve already gotten a lot of positive feedback about her from the bosses this early in the relationship. To think I thought twice before hiring her bcoz she was from Poveda and I was worried she would be too rich for us. (Haha. Me and my prejudices.) She’s smart, quiet, and conscientious, and I’ve found we also have a lot of things in common – practical husbands who wear their old clothes till kingdom come, love for chunky, funky Nine West shoes and frequent mani-peds, preference for travel over designer bags. Ann et al have been warning us not to go malling together or we will both end up so maxed out. Haha. She’s a health buff tho and a regular gym-goer, so to tease her I order the aligue rice bcoz the menu says it is ‘so worth the extra hour in the gym later’. Hahaha.

15. A visit from Thom to catch up over dinner. He brought me Moon Leaf milk tea (my new obsession courtesy of him) in yet another yummy flavor – wintermelon. I’ve already tried his other recommendations like hakka and tiramisu but I still prefer the caramel bcoz it’s the sweetest. Haha. He brought me and Boots cashews, too. Where would Boots and I get our regular cashew supply when Tito Thom moves to the US? (Don’t go, Enteng ...)

16. Dinner with Ches at Eat and Go. It’s one of the new places in the Atrium. I wanted to try it bcoz their specialty was some English thing called salmon pie. It was no great shakes, tho. I ordered the parmesan-crusted salmon with pasta and veggies, while Ches had one of the pies. I guess I was turned off bcoz the owner furtively scolded his staff when he thought no one was looking. (Hello, Mr. Hotshot Chinese Owner! Even if your food was heavenly and cheap – which it was neither – but you were mean to your employees, I so would not go back to your resto.)

17. That it’s already the middle of October and I’m still filling up these Happy Lists week after week. Sometimes I’d get to Thursday already and would have only like three things listed in my Moleskine, but then one happy thing after another happens, and I end up with a long, long list, anyway. God is truly so generous and good.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Yoshi has this habit of greeting me every Thursday night, ‘TGIF!’ And we clap and squeal and dance around together. Lately tho, even Fridays have become toxic with dramas at work and in the home front. Somehow Fridays are just not enough anymore to cheer me up – I need the entire weekend to do that. So I told Yosh, it’s time to invent a new acronym: TGIW.

Saturday I coerce the boys into going with me to Galleria. I love Galleria bcoz it’s small and manageable, not daunting and overcrowded like the supermalls of that conglomerate. Since I was all stressed, I go on a binge again and buy an obscene number of stuff from Kamiseta, Plains and Prints, Maldita, CMG. I was also eyeing The Most Perfect Plaid Polo Ever from Topshop, as well as yet another vintage floral bag from Aldo. Ches wanted to get them for me for my birthday, but I told him to wait coz I might just find something even more expensive. Hahaha.

I was telling Ches about The Unfairness of It All – how you think bcoz you’ve been working hard then you’re entitled to a shopping spree that doesn’t trigger a guilt attack, but at the end of the month you don’t really get paid any additional moolah for all that extra stress, so you just end up maxed out, as usual. Aaargh. Some politician so needs to get the brilliant idea of requiring stress pay or something like that, similar to overtime pay, given to employees who have to face more than their fair share of work dramas. Sigh.

Anyways, happiness is always more important than money. And in this light I also go and buy cutesie outfits for my nieces at Kids of Bayo and Bayo shoes for my helpers, too. Haha. For the boys, we get shirts, pants, and sneakers, and Yoshi picks a Captain America pencil case while Bootsie refuses to let go of this scary-looking toy called Robot Hand. (Perfect for his violent tendencies. Groan.) For Ches, I buy shorts and shirts from Collezione (the brand that started the whole Philippine flag/map trend).

I started with my Christmas shopping, too, for the 60 million people in my and Ches’ list of people to give gifts to. If you think I start early, you should meet Babette. She is all done with her Christmas shopping by October. Yes, all done. If I were as organized as that I ... wouldn’t be me at all. Haha.

We have dinner at Hyphy’s, a new place in one of the new wings. Its theme is supposed to be San Francisco. Ches loves his steak sandwich, Yoshi gobbles up his fish and chips (one of his staple orders), Bootsie doesn’t like the meat loaf he orders and appropriates my clam chowder, and I end up having a taste of everything plus Bootsie’s meat loaf and the tuyo and calamansi pasta I chose from the menu. (They have tuyo and calamansi in San Francisco?) Omigosh, it is hands down The Best Pasta of The Year. (You so need to make it for us, Regina. Make yourself useful, why don’t you. Hahaha.) Hyphy’s is severely underrated, if you ask me. The food was great, and the price was not all that bad, either, considering. I’m so going back to this place, if only for that pasta.

Sunday we spend mostly studying pandiwa and pang-uri, calyx, pistil and stamen, use of me, mine, you, your, yours – All Majorly Boring Stuff. Ches saves me from slowly and totally dying of boredom by buying us Moon Leaf milk teas. Yum. We also have Haagen Dazs macadamia nut and dulce de leche, which we top with the caramel candies I got from Sugarhouse. We finish two pints in one sitting. They are Sooo Good (as MIB likes to say). No wonder they are Sooo Expensive. Hahaha.

We go to Mass in UP, and it’s all your usual stuff, until the end of the homily when the priest bursts into a complete and perfectly decent version of The Beatles' I Will. How cool was that priest? He so made my day. His surprise production number had the effect of God nudging me and saying: The world is a happy place! Stop wallowing in your little tragedies Right Now.

Ches brilliantly observed that even the priests in UP are progressive. No wonder Rhoel and Andrea love going to Mass there even if it’s not their parish. We usually go in Claret (which is our parish) but last summer we heard Mass in UP all the time coz we got into the habit of walking and running around the campus with the boys after.

This time, Ches’ ulterior motive for bringing me to UP was to get me to jog with him around the acad oval. Groan. It’s tough being married to a work-out junkie, I tell you. He’s always bugging me to do fitness schmitness stuff and I have to think of creative reasons to extricate myself all the time. (My favourite strategy is something entitled Why Can’t You Just Love Me For Who I Am, Secret Fats And All?! HAHAHA.) I agreed to go with him this time, only bcoz he promised to take us to the Chocolate Kiss brunch buffet. Winner. I know, I know - Buffet = Defeats The Whole Purpose of Working Out, but whadahell. Live a little.

Thank you, Lord, for weekends.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


It was the Saturday night when we brought Bootsie to St. Luke’s ER bcoz he had on and off fever for a couple of days. (It turned out to be nothing serious, thank God.) There is always some drama that happens in the ER. And bcoz the place is cramped you usually get to hear the whole story in the span of time it takes you to await your turn. I remember the teenagers who had a motorcycle accident and were brought to the Capitol ER when Boots was there for a tummy ache. There was also the man who flat-lined just as the resident on duty was examining my big toe that swelled bcoz of an over-eager pedicurist (?) in House of Glitz. (Me and my big toe issues felt so puny then compared to that poor old man who flat-lined.)

This time, it was a youngish mommy and her little girl, followed by the lola and someone who was like the tito. The mommy’s nose was bleeding and she had gashes on her cheeks, while the little girl also had cuts on her arms. The mommy looked unstable on her feet and was sobbing hysterically. She was promptly put on a stretcher and wheeled away, with the tito following right behind. The little girl stayed with the lola, who was interviewed by the triage nurse. (Later that night, a man and two older girls, who looked like the daddy and sisters of the little girl, arrived. The girls were crying when they left.)

Everyone in the ER was riveted to the story of the lola. It was probably the most live drama each of us had seen in a while. Apparently, what happened was, the mom and girl were walking somewhere in QC, when a guy in a motorcycle ran over the two of them and sped away with the mom’s bag. The mom fainted, and it was a good thing a car was driving past and took her and the little girl in and called their family.

Unbelievable, right? You would think that snatcher would have a little heart in him and choose someone other than a mother and her daughter as his victims. What must that poor girl have thought when she saw her very own mother being violated like that by a stranger in a motorcycle? I just hope she was old enough to understand the concept of fainting, that she didn’t think her mom had gone and died when she lost consciousness. That would be too sad.

It turned out the sadness did not end there. The nurse was filling up the usual forms and asked the girl what her name was. She quietly said, ‘Bianca’. And then the nurse asked when her birthday was. Bianca answered: ‘September 18, 2004’. (Same birthday as my Ate, too.)

And this all happened on September 17. Day before her 7th birthday, a big event of sorts in our culture.


My heart bled for that little girl. I couldn’t help thinking that from then on, she’ll remember the trauma of that night every time her birthday approaches, that what’s supposed to be a happy occasion will forever be marred by that tragic incident. The mere thought is unbearable.

I’m praying for you, little Bianca. I'm praying that you’re still young enough to forget this ever happened, that you’ll celebrate many happy birthdays with no memory of that heartless, violent criminal who hurt you and your mommy, and that you will grow safe and strong and still trusting of people.

Happy List 34

1. Bootsie’s Maldita Comment of The Week, while I’m giving him and Yoshi a bath and I see a scab on Yoshi’s arm and tell him that if there’s anything I want in the whole world, it’s for him to stop scratching himself. Bootsie acts the lawyer again and says: If there’s anything I want in the whole world, it’s for you to stop being maldita. I tell him: You don’t even know what maldita means! And he retorts: Maldita means bad! (Groan. There’s two of them now, against just one little old me. Loser all the way.)

2. Purple Oven revel bars and food for the gods from Ches. Too bad they were all out of lemon bars. The lemon bars are my favorite.

3. Lunch at Pho Hoa in Trinoma where we escape to at the height of Pedring bcoz we had no food and electricity at home, and I needed to charge my celphone and buy my BreadTalk baon for Singapore (weird, huh, bringing BreadTalk in the country it came from). The hot pho with the yummy meatballs, spring rolls, chicken, and fried rice were exactly the comfort food we needed to get us thru the raging storm. We have Blizzards, too, for dessert.

4. Little Happy Things from my Singapore trip: The Script playing in the plane, catching a Glee episode where they sing Soul Sister, the lola who drove me to the airport, the Hello Kitty shirts I got for me and Ate from Bugis, being able to exchange my pesos into SGD right in Changi. (I totally forgot to bring USD and was worried coz we had this traumatic experience in Bangkok where Ches, Yoshi (barely a toddler then) and I had to walk all over in search of a money changer that would accept our pesos in exchange for baht. I should’ve known it would be easy in Singapore bcoz there are only about 60 million Filipinos there. Haha.)

5. A handmade, crayon-happy card from Bootsie, where he wrote ‘I love you, Mom’, waiting for me when I got back from my trip. Owww. My boys are too sweet.

6. Lunch at Kanzhu bcoz I had this craving for their hand-pulled noodles in hot, tangy soup that rainy weekend. Yummy comfort.

7. Moon Leaf milk tea that Ches has been supplying me with for several weeks now bcoz I’m always craving for them. It’s another one of those things that Thom has got me hooked on, like Melona, Gayuma, and Pino.

8. And in one of those Moon Leaf outings, Ches comes across some members of the UP Pep Squad, so then I found out from him that ‘we’ actually won the UAAP cheer dance competition a few weeks back. The boys and I watch them on Youtube and omigosh they are jaw-dropping. (Go, UP! Woohoo!)

9. The Princess and the Pea handmade book plates from Rosa (Thanks, Martha Stewart!). She also posted this blog entitled To The Best Boss I've Ever Had. Owww.

10. Karen, our new lawyer. I liked her best from the six or so applicants I interviewed bcoz she writes well, cited her attention to detail and organizational skills as her strengths, is young, newly-married, lives nearby and looks over-all like the best fit for our little company. MIB liked her bcoz she was from UP, period. (Haha. I love how he compliments me obliquely like that.) She’s actually cum laude, too. And so far, so good. She has been fast and conscientious, quiet and diligent. She’s a Strunk and White follower, not to mention a Bayo, Kamiseta, and Dorothy Perkins shopper. Haha. She reminds me of Robby's tito's criterion for his EA: di bale ng maganda basta matalino. HAHAHA. I tell MIB she’s like Ann and he is mightily pleased. (Ann is like The Benchmark for all good work ethics and ideal office behaviour. I told MIB the same thing about Ardo. If I tell him somebody is like Ann, that does it for him, he knows he no longer has to worry about that staff. Ann is that good. And she got to this position without ever hurting anyone. I love her. I’d so die without her to help me in the office.)

11. A deal going well and looking on its sweet way to finally pushing thru. The best part is the buffet lunch at Circles after gruelling negotiations that take all morning. Haha. I eat plate after plate of sushi, sashimi, steaks, ice cream, and chocolate macadamia cookies. MIB is training for his race in Nepal next month and is supposed to be on a diet, but couldn’t resist when I tell him the strawberry ice cream is Shangri-La’s homemade specialty. Haha.

12. Legal planning in Tower Club. It was good to know we’ve covered most of what we set out to do at the start of the year. MIB is also apparently happy with the team bcoz he orders an entire feast for us – burgers, sausages, risotto balls, fries, and bcoz I ask for desserts he gives us the works – chocolate mousse, crème brulee, soufflé, parfait. (I’m beginning to wonder who tipped him off that the surest way to keep me happy and loyal to the office is to overfeed me everyday. Haha.)

13. Dinner at John and Yoko with Ches. News flash: I actually preferred the wagyu beef he ordered over the salmon I ordered. Haha.

14. Training with Ann at Manila Pen. The speaker was blah and in fact I spent the whole morning dissing him with Jon and telling Jon he so could’ve done a better job (haha). But at least I did get my labor law updates, much-needed in my line of work, and I was happy to know that most of what I remembered from law school is still correct - and hence I’m doing ok and will probably not be thrown in jail anytime soon for dispensing legal advice in the office that I never bother to check first. Haha. Plus there was the Manila Pen snacks and lunch buffet that are always joys. And the pianist playing some of my favorite songs like A Certain Sadness and Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka. Happiness.

15. Catching up with Rosa over yogurt at Golden Spoon. It was nothing compared to White Hat or Red Mango, but the fun conversation made up for the drab food.

16. Dinner with Robert and Eycee at Roberta’s. I told Ches, we have to see these two already bcoz Eycee has been texting me almost everyday that she misses me. Haha. I know she misses my obscene and scathing humor. I love her. I was also happy that Robert shares my bigotry over this certain group in Philippine society (which I will not name for fear of being stoned). I should’ve known. That guy is so fierce and communist. Hahaha.

17. Gabe’s birthday and dedication. My boys had immense fun, as usual. And it was good to see all the MWC kids again. Dex even got me as ninang, considering I’ve been out of MWC for three years now. Owww. He’s so sweet. I love that he, Beavis, and I have stayed good friends and kept our little threesome.

18. Steve Jobs. Res ipsa loquitor.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


We had our farewell party for Rosa at MIB’s condo before I left for Singapore. Ann made kare-kare and I brought Purple Oven desserts. They served all these other yummy dishes, too, and wine that got me and Ardo all tipsy.

MIB gave me three choices for the party: lunch out, Red Box, or party at home. I chose the last bcoz I was eager to see the place that ‘we’ bought at xx million from my friend’s boss (haha). (I didn’t contribute a single centavo or anything; all I did was the documentation, advice, and stuff, which got me The Major Super Winner Spa Package from MIB.)

My, it was vast. It was like five times bigger than the xx million worth condo that my favorite tita-in-law bought in Grass. (I guess there's rich, and then there's Major Super Rich. Haha.) The whole place seemed encased in these floor-to-ceiling windows that offered a fantastic view of the city. Definitely not for acrophobics, but I can appreciate beauty when I see it.

What I loved best about it tho, was that it was homey - despite the snooty address, the more-expensive-than-your-life kind of furniture, their sand collection from all over the world. They put up their own pix and drawings all over the place. (One of their wedding pictures was against the backdrop of a lighthouse in Martha’s Vineyard. Omigosh. I love lighthouses. Ate promised me we are so going to this place. Woohoo!) No diploma wall for these double, triple major holders from Ivy Leagues. They had book shelves everywhere. (And I was happy to note that The Wife also read a lot of the same books I have. Haha.) It was one of those homes where it’s easy to see that the kids rule – with a piano and violin in a prominent spot in the living room, and a separate play room with dolls and other girly toys plus a majestic tepee in the middle. (In our home, meanwhile, the single biggest piece of furniture is the boys’ toy cabinet under the stairs. You've never seen a cabinet so massive.)

One of his girls also bugged MIB to play Here Comes The Sun. It turns out to be their wedding song. Omigosh. On top of everything, this golden couple are also Beatles fans? How much more perfect can you get?

I think I’ve blogged about it before, when MIB’s family and mine went out to lunch in Chelsea: the more we know them, the more we love them. They’re not like some people who are all sparkly and fascinating when you first meet them, but then turn out to be not all that nice and just downright disappointing once you really get to know them. MIB and family, tho – I think they’ll be one of my favorite people long after I stop working for their company.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Beyond the Merlion

Part of the occupational hazards of an in-house counsel is being plucked out of your happy place and sent right abroad at a moment's notice. Normal people consider travel a job perk rather than a hazard, but as you know, (1) I am not normal people, and (2) I have Big Issues about traveling without my family.

I'm the girl who flat-out refused to go to Beijing for work and lied to no less than My Former Favorite Boss/Long-Time Crush about having mastitis so I could get out of the trip. I had the Chinese visa on my passport and everything - but between Beijing and then four-month-old Bootsie whom I was still exclusively breastfeeding, work NEVER even stood a chance. My decision then was, I knew they were going to take it against me that I was copping out of my responsibilities, but I had always been honest about my priorities, never once pretended that work came before family, and if they started hating me for that - well, there were 60 million other companies I could work in.

This time was not so bad, tho, bcoz I left Wednesday morning and was back Friday evening, and the boys did not get sick or anything in my absence, and our Singapore-based British consultant crammed all our four meetings on Thursday, so I had Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning to go around Singapore.

I emailed my boss to update him about the meetings, and he thanks me and says he hopes I would go out and enjoy myself. Owww. I forward it to Ches and tell him if I never leave this office it would be, without a doubt, bcoz of my boss. (And bcoz of Ann, Anji, and Thina, too, who were busy holding the fort for me back in the office, and who so willingly help me out with everything beyond the call of duty all the time.) My boss even offered to arrange a dinner for me at Kudeta bcoz he knew the chef there, and Kudeta is this posh resto beside the rooftop infinity pool in Marina Bay Sands, so I had to beg off and remind him about my acrophobia (groan).

I did enjoy myself as the boss ordered. I know that I'm a lot of bad things, but I don't think boring is one of them. I'm not the type to stay cooped up inside a hotel (no matter how luxurious) when there's a whole city waiting to be explored. The times I wasn't working, I was so out there having fun.

1. Rendezvous. I chose Rendezvous bcoz we had been there before when we walked around with Ate last year and it looked impressive from the outside and I knew it was in an ideal location. It turned out to be a great choice.

The first happy thing was, I was upgraded into a junior suite bcoz they were fully booked. Of course, the suite was too big for one girl. My bathroom looked out into the National Museum (I could even see Marina Bay Sands in the distance), I got a bowl of fruits and Wi-Fi, designer toiletries (FCUK!), day-long snacks at the lounge, and I could use all six fluffy pillows by mysef. (I'm a big pillow hoarder. Yoshi is always complaining about how even my feet get a pillow, and I tell him, get a job and buy your own pillows. Hahaha.)

The happiest thing, tho, was the fully automated toilet. It was the first of its kind I've seen. It looked like your normal toilet except that it's heated so it's glorious when you sit down, and you can actually make it clean you up the way you want it, like an automatic, hands-free bidet, with dryer, too. I found it absolutely hilarious. (Needless to say, The Tale of The Heated Toilet is the boys' favorite out of all the Sg stories I tell them. I could so see them fighting over who gets to sit on the toilet and play with the controls. Haha.)

Rendezvous is also home to the award-winning nonya laksa, but between the breakfast buffets and all-day lounge snacks, plus the hefty, heavenly Chinese and Singaporean meals D and G (our consultant and his wife, not Dolce and Gabbana haha) fed me, even I didn't have the tummy space anymore for this hotel specialty.

2. In Search of Spires. I had a few hours before my dinner meeting Wednesday, so what I did was to go out and walk around in search of the churches that I could see from my hotel room. As you know, I have a love affair with churches. The older, the better. I didn't use a map or anything - I just looked up and followed the spires. Haha.

The nearest one was the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was no great shakes from the outside, and it was closed, too, so I didn't get to see if the inside was any better.

I also found this quaint church along Orchard. Looked much better than the first one but also closed.

The nicest church I found turned out not to be a church at all. It's called Chijmes and if you go around the back you will find a vast and amazing courtyard with fountains, shops, and restos with the quirkiest names.

Who would wanna eat in a place called Hog's Breath? Not the most appealing of names, definitely.

I could so spend the night drinking away my sleeplessness here. (And hello there, San Miguel Beer! You make us proud everywhere you go =)

I admire people and things that are not pretentious. So I love the name of this resto bcoz it doesn't pretend to be vegan or any of that healthy schmealthy stuff, and when you go in you know exactly that it's going to be carnivorous all the way. Haha.

3. The Neighborhood. As I mentioned, Rendezvous is like in the center of everything. Everything is accessible from it. Across the road is Kopitiam, the exact same place that Ate and my boys had almost all our meals when we were there last time. I still have fond memories of all the Chinese, Japanese, Korean cuisines we had here, plus the bobochacha and mango sunrise.

On the other side of the street is the School of the Arts, that funky building with the wide staircase and plants creeping all over the walls. So cool. For me it's exactly how an arts school should look like.

Across Kopitiam is Singapore Management University. One of its buildings was right beside another one with this sign: Income. So it's like, after you graduate, you can move right next door and earn the big bucks. Haha. I'd send my kids to this school, too, if it can guarantee a return on my moolah like that.

The National Museum is right on the next block. It's an imposing, impressive building inside and out. When we were here last year, we saw someone who looked so like Michael Jackson and Ate stole some pictures of him (haha). This time, I saw this newly-wedded couple posing on the steps. How cool is that? If our museums in the Philippines were anywhere near as nice as this, I would have my wedding pix taken in them, too. Haha.

Well, hello there, Dome! My boys and I know and love you from back home.

Bras Basah Road where Rendezvous is located is apparently a historic area. There were lots of other great and ancient-looking buildings around the place, such as Vanguard Building, Stamford House, and this row closer to the busy part of Orchard.

Another lovely albeit newer building in the neighborhood.

4. Awards Night. And The Funkiest Washroom Award goes to ... this toilet in the mall adjoining D's and G's office building, where I go to meet them before we go out for dinner. It's not only clean but has also been made up to look like the famous night safari. How cool is this toilet?

In the same mall I also spotted Breadtalk and Toast Box, for me Singapore's Best Exports to the Philippines. Haha. BreadTalk was one of three things I had on an almost daily basis when I was still working beside MoA (Blizzard and White Hat being the other two). I bring BreadTalk goodies whenever we travel bcoz my boys love it, too, and I figure whatever kind of food awaits us where we're going, or the total absence of it, we can subsist on BreadTalk.

It is also in this mall where I have The Best Chinese Meal Since Beijing. D and G took me to their favorite resto, something called Imperial Treasure, and they load me up with dish upon heavenly dish of Chinese yumminess. We have the usual like duck (and G even gives me the drumstick to chew on), crispy prawns, the leafy veggies, noodles, but on top of all of that we also have a lot of new things for me like crab meat with egg white, soup with ripe papaya and fish, mango pudding with milk. Omigosh.

I've always liked D bcoz he's so practical and gracious despite his stature in the global pharma industry, but getting to know him like this with his Malaysian Chinese wife who's so warm, nurturing, and funny, too - I absolutely love the two of them already. G is this busy partner in a law firm, but she makes the time to take me to lunch the following day, of Hainanese chicken, laksa, sugar cane juice, and iced milk tea. We talk about everything from law to Korean dramas to marital woes. She tells me I'm a brave girl for travelling thru the storm raging in the Philippines, and I feel so touched I almost tear up right in front of her. (Sniff.)

After lunch, she takes me malling and insists on paying for 60 million goodies for me to bring home - jars of dried fruits, instant crab, chicken, prawn, and soup mixes (I did not have the heart to tell her I don't cook. I guess she just presumed I did bcoz I talked A LOT about food. Hahaha.), and all kinds of floss (as in the BreadTalk cheese floss) and glorious bakkwa (jerky for non-Asians) at this famous store called Bee Cheng Hiang. I take out my credit card to pay for everything but she just waves it away each time. Unbelievable.

I'm just so glad that D is coming over soon so I can send him something in return. I was not prepared and did not bring a single thing for them bcoz I thought it was going to be purely a business trip. I had no idea I was going to meet G and we were going to be fast friends. Travel may be a hazard, but friends that go with the job are definitely perks.

5. Internal Hemorrhage. Four back-to-back meetings in a span of one day makes Jewel a sleepy girl. I had no strenght left Thursday night and stayed in after I buy a little pasalubong from Bugis and a nearby mall. I had spent the entire day talking business with several people of at least six nationalities - British, Malaysian, Singaporean, European, Chinese and Filipino - and at the end of it all I had not only a nosebleed but a full-fledged internal hemorrhage. Haha.

I chatted with Ches and Ate and watched TV until I fell asleep. TV is one of the things I've had to give up for a long time now. Between being a full-time worker bee and queen mum 24/7/365, I just don't have the time for TV anymore (except 24 Oras which is on while we're having dinner, or sometimes Eat Bulaga on lazy Saturdays if our social calendar is not otherwise booked).

The one good channel in the hotel was Star World. It was showing some vampire show called The Gates, which looked promising but you'll never catch me watching horror when I'm alone. I liked the medical drama Off the Map (I used to follow Chicago Hope and the first season of Grey's Anatomy before I started not liking Meredith). America's Next Top Model was fun, too. I like that, unlike most other reality shows, it does not make any pretenses and the winner is chosen on the basis alone of whether or not she has the looks and skills to make it as a great model, and not bcoz she gets along well with everyone else, has a sob story back home, or same such drama.

I absolutely hated The Bachelorette. One word: contrived. It's shows like this that make you see why TV is called the idiot box. If The Bachelorette is what's lording it on TV since the last time I checked, then I'm so not missing out.

6. The Heritage Solitary Walking Tour. I had most of Friday as me time before my late afternoon flight, and I figured I could spend it either at the fabulous, humongous shops in Orchard, or looking for more churches and old buildings. And guess what? History trumped shopping this time around. (Yes, I like to remain unpredictable like that. Haha.)

I got one of the maps in the lobby and set out for St. Andrew's Cathedral. It took me almost an hour to find the thing when it was only like two blocks away (ditziness never dies), but it's all good bcoz along the way I got to see several lovely places. Like I said, Bras Basah is right in the historic heart of the city. (One other lesser-known fact about me is, I love to walk. One of the reasons I married Ches is that he was always willing to walk with me anywhere in college. Haha. Cheesy, as usual.)

The Armenian Church is the oldest in the island, having been built in 1835. Cool, huh. It looked really impressive on the outside but I didn't go in bcoz I have an old fear of going into non-Catholic churches, that I might not come out the same person. Or might not come out at all, period. Haha. It's crazy, I know.

Right across the Armenian Church is the fire station. Amazing architecture and lovely contrasting colors. Easily one of my favorite structures in the city.

This is the Gryffindor House. Just kidding. I had no idea what it is - there was no marker or anything - and I'm not that much of a history geek as to bother to find out. Haha. I'm such a phony, I know.

The Philatelic Museum. Too big a building to be housing little stamps, huh. There must be gazillions of them in there.

The majestic Peranakan Museum, built in 1910. Too bad I didn't have time to go in and check out what's inside.

Look, it's those guard dragons and reliefs, exposed graphic beams, and The Red Bolted Door That I'm In Love With from the Forbidden City. Owww. I love Beijing. Beijing and Siem Reap are my favorite cities, I think.

Finally, St. Andrew's. The outside is just as lovely as the inside. And there are stacks of Bibles in every pew. These guys mean business.

The Esplanade Theatre and Marina Bay Sands are visible from the church yard.

Right across the church yard is the site of the F1 big event that happened only the weekend before. There were still workers dismantling the structures and everything when I passed by. Everyone I met was like, oh, too bad you didn't get here in time for F1. And I would give them my Best In Smile but inwardly I'm thinking, oooh, F1, I'm so excited, I'm peeing in my pants. Hahaha. I liked fencing and still watch tennis when I can, but outside of that, I have got to be The Least Sports-Oriented Person in the Planet.

I walked farther out and saw the old Supreme Court building which was being renovated into another art center or the other. To its side is the new Supreme Court building. Operative word is 'new'. I don't like it at all. When I look at the old one I think imposing pillars, august halls of justice and all of that - the new one is ... just new, period.

Across the new court is the Parliament. It looked deserted and eerily quiet in the midday. I'm thinking everyone in government is probably busy catching smokers, jaywalkers, gum-chewers, and such in the streets. Haha.

(Actually, this time around, I saw a number of people crossing outside pedestrian lanes or when The Green Man is not yet on, or even smoking out on the streets. Locals, I guess. Me, I was Miss Obedient Tourist all the way. I have this old fear of being hauled to jail for something or the other, much worse in an authoritarian foreign place which goes by its other famous name, The 'Fine' City.)

The Parliament is the last building by the river, and it's where I stopped my grand little tour. I could've walked a few minutes more and gotten to the whole Esplanade, Merlion, and Fullerton strip. I was thinking I'd take a pix of the Merlion and MMS it to Jon and tease him about Photoshopping his face in it, since he so missed it the last time we were here (hahaha). But I've been there, done that, and besides, I've been walking for over an hour and was hungry already. (Sorry, Jon - food trumps friends all the time. Haha.)

Who would've thought Singapore had so much heritage to offer? Which is why it's always good to go back to a place at least a second time - the first to take the official tour and soak in all the usual spots and activities, the second to explore the place in your own pace and route and discover gems beyond the usual touristy things like the Merlion.

7. The Signs. I'm always reading and taking pix of signs when I travel bcoz I often luck out and find so much wisdom, beauty, or humor in them. This epitaph inside St. Andrew's has all three.

You know when you're not even looking for something and it appears right under your nose and it's just too perfect? Omigosh. This is exactly how I want my epitaph to read - with a reference to my humor and being nurturing and loving people especially children. It's perfect loveliness in a little sign. I'm so living my life from now on in such a way as to earn an epitaph like this. Haha.

I love this sign. Too funny. And so true, too. You can never go wrong with chili crab. Plus, it's sponsored by SingTel, Globe's foreign partner. I'm loyal to all things Ayala to this day - Globe, BPI, Trinoma, Manila Water. Ayala is love.

In all my walking around I've figured that it takes approximately 3 seconds for The Green Man to turn into The Flashing Green Man. The Flashing Green Man and the 20-second countdown that accompanies it scare me to no end. It always makes me think, omigosh, I'm 15 seconds away from a fine and a night in jail. Haha.

And you know, all that paranoia isn't too unfounded bcoz they have these signs all over the place. Scary, huh. Can you be any more graphic about shooting me?

I wonder what this means. Oh, well - Happy Whatever to you! Haha.

Now this word is something that does not require any explanation to anyone. Haha.

'S' is a universal problem, I think. Everywhere I've gone, I always see an S where there shouldn't be. I guess it's a human weakness - we never leave well enough alone. Haha.

8. Changi. I fell in love with Changi the first time I landed in it six or so years ago. I was in Terminal 2 then and was so amazed with the koi ponds, 60 million orchids all over the place, and the sunflower garden in the rooftop. My favorite tita-in-law who's married to a Singaporean had long been selling Changi to me before I even saw it, and I was so not disappointed when I finally did. Changi is more like Greenbelt than an airport with the whole nature ambience, tony shops and restos.

This time around I was in Terminal 1 so in lieu of the sunflower garden I saw the cactus garden. Cactus vs. sunflowers = no contest, but better than zero garden, right? Haha.

I didn't know that Hermione is also the face of Lancome. I knew she did Burberry. I love Hermione. She's brainy, pretty, and so fierce.

I get a pang when I see playgrounds and my kids are not with me. You can leave me alone to slug it out with the owners or the Chairman or CEO or whoever - I'll stand my ground and come out of the fight perfectly intact. But make me leave my kids for even a couple of days and I turn into a whimpering, slobbering mess. I just don't have it in me.

9. Miss Friendship. I make it a point to be friendly with people like the rank and file in the office, janitors, guards, waiters, and same such others (something I learned from my dad), but I don't think I'm particularly warm to all other people who seem to get along just fine without any extra kindness from me. Haha. In this trip, tho, I was suddenly Miss Friendship without meaning to.

When I set out for my walking tour, I was approached by this youngish Korean to take his pix in front of the Singapore Art Museum. His name was Tom and he was there interning in Carlton and on his day off he was walking around and exploring the city. He walked with me for a bit until he had to go and meet someone for brunch. He took this pix of me, too.

In Changi, I was approached by someone who looked exactly like a younger Ate Joy (Ches' family's helper for the longest time). Her name was Desiree and it was her first time to travel back to the Philippines after she started working as a helper in Singapore two years ago. She said she had no idea what to do in the airport so she asked me to help her out. So of course I took her in and saw her off until NAIA. (It made me think tho, did I mistakenly put on a sash this morning, the kind that the salesladies in Savemore wear which reads, I'm happy to serve you, or something? Hahaha.) Within minutes she was telling me about how much she was earning, how she had to save up to get back some land for her parents, etc. etc. Most Pinays are blabbermouths, I think. Haha.

In the plane, I was seated beside an elderly Singaporean who was busy with his netbook and 60 million documents the whole flight. We got to chatting and I learned that he's in the manpower business and he spends all his days traveling to the Philippines and China to recruit pharmacists, secretaries, and stuff. He showed me his passport and my, it was fully stamped. I told him he's just like George Clooney in Up In The Air, the way he spends all his time in airports and planes, except that he hires rather than fires people. (I'm brilliant, huh. Haha.) We exchanged cards and he promised to buy me and my family dinner the next time we're in Singapore.

And so just like that, I was effortlessly and surprisingly Miss Friendship. Next trip, I'm so going to the next level and vying for Best in Evening Gown. Haha.