Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Project Mike

Ches, Randy and I have got ourselves a new project on our hands: the fit-out of my aunt-in-law’s Grass unit. I’m calling it Project Mike in honor of Channing Tatum’s simmering hot moves in the movie. Hahaha.

I’m sure Ches is pleased to help out T. Thelma and family since they are based in Shanghai. (He is such the beloved nephew). For his part, Randy said he’s glad to be working with Melody and his team again bcoz they are one of the more decent contractors he has ever worked with. I’m sure Melody is just happy to be working on a new project, period. Hahaha. Me, I’m looking forward to seeing more of Randy, and the boys, more of the long and wide Grass swimming pools. Hahaha.

So we all met in Grass on Saturday, which Ches only later on realized is also the third anniversary of the turn-over of our renovated home from Melody. Same team, new home, exactly three years after. Cool, huh.

T. Thelma wanted to take us all to Starbucks after, but I told Ches Little Quiapo is probably a happier choice for all of us. Classic, bestselling palabok and halo-halo versus overrated, fancified coffee equals no contest, right? Hahaha. Ches added tokwa, too, and even that was also yummy.

T. Thelma used to teach at UP Pol Sci and knew most of our professors. Ches, Randy, and I had a grand time listening to her spill their dirty little secrets. I was also fascinated with her story about giving up her Ph. D. and her entire career to get married and raise a family. Wow. I didn’t know she met Tito David in Australia when they were both studying. I didn’t know they also lived in Beijing. She said Shanghai is their 9th move and she has warned him that if they have to move one more time, she is so filing for divorce. Hahaha. I love her more the more I find out about her.

We’ve barely had enough time to digest all that glorious Pinoy food when she asked us to go out again for dinner. She had read about Gino’s brick oven pizza and wanted the boys to try it. They loved it. They each had at least four big slices. We had the cheese, sausage, and prosciutto. All good, but the cheese was the best.

They’re back in Shanghai now and we all miss them. The boys especially miss Kuya Jonathan. I told them it’s ok – we have Project Mike to keep us close.

Movie Season

What better way to spend the rainy season than to curl up in bed with a good movie? Here are what I saw the last couple of stormy weeks:

1. Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me. Pinoy indie at its best. Funny, irreverent, and just a little bit sentimental. It stars my and Eycee's Ultimate Girl Crush - Mercedes Cabral. Eycee and I are in love with this girl. And Eycee has not even seen Mercedes in Serbis! Hahaha.

2. The Lady. Easily One of The Best Films of The Year. If I was in awe of Aung San Suu Kyi before, now I am in total and absolute admiration. This movie shows just how much she had endured not only as a political icon but also as a mother and wife. My favorite part was that scene after she was put on house arrest and her family denied visas to visit her - and her husband, instead of moping or divorcing her or whatever, decides to help her out by nominating her to the Nobel Peace Prize. Owww. I was sobbing thru most of this film.

3. More indie finds that were surprisingly good at every turn and did not disappoint at all. There was Hide Away, starring Josh Lucas, who retreats to a dilapidated sailboat after losing his entire family. This is the kind of movie where nothing ever happens, there's just a handful of characters who hardly even say anything to each other, and the scenery for the most part tells the story. I'm a sucker for this kind of infinitely sad movies.

And then there was Hide Aways, a British indie magical realism type, tho not as creepy as the Isabel Allende kind. Yoshi and Boots watched this with me. They loved the superpowers aspect of it. Haha. This film also featured stunning views of the English countryside.

I also loved Like Crazy, about a British student who falls in love with her American classmate in LA, overstays her visa, and gets barred from setting foot in the US and hence from seeing him there again. It is that rare love story that is sweet but honest, not overly sentimental nor too serious. When you think about it, that's exactly what love is - it's like crazy.

Adrien Brody was so good in Detachment. It is a tribute of sorts to teachers, albeit of the gritty, docu-style variety. It was co-produced by the Tribeca Film Festival, which I remember had a row of theaters that we passed by in one of our 60 million hop on-hop off bus rides in New York.

Five Star Day had a flimsy premise (this guy set out to prove that horoscopes are not true), but the amazing soundtrack totally saved it. That, and the fact that he irrevocably dumped his girlfriend who cheated on him. I love stories where the characters have balls and are not long-suffering martyr types. Haha.

So who needs The Dark Knight when I have my indies?

4. Magic Mike with Randy. What rollicking fun. We couldn't stop giggling thru the parts where the men put on their shows, playing everything from Ken to Tarzan to construction workers. I was afraid the guards were going to throw us out. Hahaha. I couldn't have found a better date to watch this with than Randy. We pigged out at Parvati after. Perfect.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Amazing List 11

1. Hoarding amazing books from Fully Booked, undies from La Senza, dresses from Promod and Forever 21, a pair of shoes from Zara, and a Hello Kitty belt from Vans. Equals happiness. The shallow, manic cash register kind of happiness, but still. Hahaha.

2. Weekend lunch with the boys at Yen Yen Taiwan Street Food. We all loved the food, and Boots loved the tall poster of Taipei 101. He has had this thing for skyscrapers since New York and Empire State Building. It's a milder version of his dino obsession - he spews out nosebleed trivia like the height of the buildings, the year they were built, where to find them, etc. He doesn't even wait to be asked. Sheesh. Like I always say, Bootsie - let's move on and cultivate a marketable skill next time, why don't we? Something that will finance our Breadtalk addiction. Hahaha.

3. Thom surprising me with a Moonleaf at work in the middle of the day. Owww. Thom is the perfect poster boy for loyal, enduring friendship.

4. Mary Grace ensaymada smothered with quezo de bola. I've always loved their cheese rolls and lemon bars, and now I found this amazing ensaymada, too.

5. Trying out new milk teas, like those from J. Co. I'm not going to ditch my usual favorites for J. Co. or anything, but this place definitely walks away with The Cheesiest Napkins Award. Hahaha. Parang kami lang ni Ches.

6. Another Alba's lunch treat from my snooty friend in the office

7. A lunch treat from Ches' boss, too, at Pancake House

8. Trying out something new, all for the love of Ches. I am fiercely anti-gun, but somehow he's into this whole shooting thing and has been bugging me to go with him for the longest time. So I finally went, fired one shot, and was so traumatized by the sound and fury of it all that I couldn't take another. I told him: you shoot your guns, I'll shoot my pictures. I mean, we can't all be the same kind of trigger happy, right? Haha.

(And here's Mr. Trigger Man himself doing his best imitation of Yoshi. Haha.)

9. Kind words from loved ones, like Ate saying my kids will someday thank me for taking them to see heritage sites instead of shopping malls. Yoshi also asked what my rank was in law school, and when I told him, he said, 'Good job, Mommy!', complete with a high five. It was so the opposite of his usual snooty comments to me that I was rendered speechless for about five minutes. Hahaha.

10. The forces of good gathering steam (as my friend G puts it) to keep us in the fight when the dark side puts us down

11. Ann's baby shower at Serye, where we finished more than a kilo of crispy pata, plus kare-kare and bangus belly steak, and we had tall, too sweet drinks, to boot. We are clearly miles and miles away from our Biggest Loser days. Hahaha.

12. Stormy weekends which we spend lazing around in bed with our own little gadgets and books. Family bliss is made of these.

13. The London Olympics opening ceremonies. It was Ate who told me I had to see it bcoz it had J. K. Rowling, Hugh Grant, Hey Jude, Voldemort - all things British that she knew I liked. So I watched it, and she was right, I loved it! The queen descending in a parachute with her knickers showing was tacky, and I'm not really a fan of Beckham - but never mind bcoz there was Mr. Bean playing the Chariots of Fire theme with the orchestra, and the magnificent cauldron rising from the ground to form the Olympic flame, like magic. Fantastic.

14. Ate Ann's birthday dinner at Delish. Ate Ann has been with us for years and years now and she is one of the blessings I always thank God for. She is more than family to us - she's our angel.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Giving Tree

Ate and Bryan went to The Giving Tree Gallery in Sandwich, and she sent me beautiful pictures of the poems and artwork all over the place. She said she didn't find anything special with it, it just looked a lot like all the talahib in the farm behind our Lola's house. Hahaha. Crazy Ate. But she did know I would've appreciated it so much more. Ate is one of the few People Who Get Me. She is always buying or emailing me stuff that she knows take me straight to heaven.

She sent me this poem:

Wasn't that just perfect? It reminds me of the Bible stories about God taking care of the lilies and swallows, even if they don't do anything or serve any obvious purpose. Those are some of my favorite Bible stories bcoz they are just so comforting and consistent with my view of God as all-forgiving and boundlessly generous. Coincidentally, Yoshi and I were just reading these stories for his Christian Living lesson last week.

Ate also sent me this:

And I told her, OMG, that's a line from one of my favorite poems ever!

I am posting the whole poem below as a gift to all of you people who read my little blog =)

After A While
©1971 Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of a woman,
not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn...

Now a poem like that is definitely one of the things John Keats must have had in mind when he wrote about a thing of beauty being a joy forever.

(Thank you, Ate, for the pictures and poems, and for getting me =)

Sunday, July 22, 2012


So I got tired of my hair again and thought I'd get a haircut while having my usual mani pedi. Since I became Little Ms. Short Hair last year, I had only one answer when the stylist asks me what kind of cut I wanted: short.

Except this time I forgot that my hair is actually still short since my last cut was only about two months ago when we got back from the US. So I ended up with hair that was not only short. It was Beyond Short. It's what you would call Fierce. In fact if you were brutal about it, you'd call it A Disaster. Hahaha.

And I can't even turn on the malditaness to the stylist bcoz, um, I asked for it, right? Ugh.

It's the kind of drastic short hair you would get if you were engaged and caught your fiance making out with your maid of honor. Or the kind you would get with a sex transplant, if you suddenly decide to come out after years and years of pretending to be a girl. It's definitely the kind that would get you into the nuns' blacklist in my high school. And the kind that would make your crazy kids forego the usual 'Hi, Mom!' and replace it with 'Hey, boy!' Groan.

I figure I have to be wearing my girly girl hair bands and clips all the time, so no one would mistake me for being a boy (other than my loving kids, that is). Sigh. But then Ches said no one will ever mistake me for a boy, that I'm too sexy to be a boy. HAHAHA.

I'm telling you - once every ten years, this guy I married, he knows exactly the perfect thing to say. Hahaha.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Anvaya Cove

I went to the annual planning session of my corporate governance group in Anvaya Cove. To give you an idea of how I feel about the whole thing, I will share with you my answers when we were asked at the start of the session to write on sheets of paper (1) what our expectations were from the activity and (2) from the other participants, and (3) what they can expect from me. My answers: (1) two days off from the office, (2) jokes and laughter, and (3) my junk food stash. Hahaha.

So yes, I was definitely not treating this one oh so seriously.

I rode with Thom, and the subject of his wedding preparations alone took us thru NLEX and SCTEX. Hahaha. In between I fielded office emails in my BlackBerry and he got busy making calls for his nephew's party and sister's event at Resorts World. (He's such a good kuya, I swear.) Which explains why we missed two Shell gas stations (it had to be Shell bcoz he had a fleet card) and he obsessed about Googling one near Anvaya and we wasted about thirty minutes looking for one in Subic only to end up in a Petron. Hahaha. Crazy Enteng. He made up for it, tho, by letting me go down at the first duty free shop that we saw and I got to majorly hoard all the chocolates and potato chips and all these other Bad Stuff That Taste So Damn Good.

The two of us also got this crazy idea to have a quick jog around Anvaya. (He's trying to lose weight for his wedding; I'm just trying to not die early from all the bad food I eat all of the time. Groan.) We hardly had any time tho bcoz the team-building session ended past 6PM. From our cottage I wanted to go thru the bridges and we took this shortcut that turned out to be some guests' back porch (there was a table with a laptop and mobile phone and all), so technically we were trespassing. Hahaha. And then we passed by the pond where the resident ducks were ambling along and Thom made loud quacking sounds, so of course the alpha male of the flock got into his attack pose and started running after us and we had to run for our lives. Yikes! (I told the boys this story and Yoshi's comment was: 'Why did Tito Thom have to quack? That was smart.' I know, right? Hahaha.)

We escaped the ducks by the time we got to the country club and we got another brilliant idea to head for the shore. In movies people are always jogging by the shore and I have never tried it and was envious. Haha. We found out it's actually harder to jog on sand bcoz it's like you're carrying your whole weight. Not to mention, in this particular beach the sand was wet and we had to zigzag to avoid crabs crawling out of their little holes. So, yes, those movies where the characters are jogging along the shore oh so gracefully, with their long hair flowing in the wind and all of that - that's just plain acting. Hahaha.

Anvaya was definitely an improvement from our planning session at Taal Vista last year. (1) It was much bigger and more secluded, and the facilities, services, and everything else were higher-end. (2) The buffets were infinitely better. (3) Less traffic to get to Morong than Tagaytay. (4) Anvaya is an Ayala development, while Taal Vista is owned by SM. Hahaha.

Thom, Lizelle's family, and I stayed in the same cottage with about six big, separate rooms. The cottages were named after birds, and ours was called Swallow, which just happens to be Bryan's surname. So of course I just had to email a picture to him. Hahaha.

For me, you can judge a hotel by its bathroom. Anvaya's looked like this, so I guess that says enough about the size and design and over-all vibe of the room I stayed in, right?

I also loved the bridge leading up to the country club where we had the sessions. It was made of wood, with lilac flowers cascading from a trellis overhead, and overlooking the pond.

I loved the pond best of all. It was wide and perfectly landscaped with bridges, rocks, and wild bushes. It was so Dawson's Creek and reminded me of all the ponds we saw in Cape Cod. (Sob. I miss Cape Cod.)

The pond belongs to the ducks, of course. Yes, including the same friggin alpha male duck that wanted to peck the heck out of my and Thom's butt. Ugh. Calee loves these ducks. Regina, too. He has always had the mind of a five-year-old, that one. Hahaha.

The best part was spending time with my friends. On top of our Looking for Shell All Around Subic and Extreme Jogging With The Ducks adventures, Thom and I also played foosball, made Moonleaf bets (which cancelled out bcoz I won the first one and he won the second), took home biscotti from the dinner buffet (PGs never change), and laughed like lunatics bcoz he thought 'ligated' translated to 'kapon' in Tagalog. HAHAHA. This is the main reason why Paula and I love Thom sooo much. Ches also pointed out that I love travelling with Thom coz he's a great photographer and indulges me in all my camwhoring. Hahaha.

Liz was also there (with her family and mom-in-law), and she was being such this diligent person that she always is in the sessions, raising all these brilliant points including how we should focus on increasing the quality rather than the quantity of the members. I had to tell her to stop and not go any further, bcoz we might end up getting booted out of the group, since the only ever monthly meeting we've (Thom, Liz, and me) attended so far this year is the one in MWC way back in January. Hahaha.

I also got to catch up with Regina and we made our usual stupid jokes, like about this old guy who both reminded us of Dr. Seuss with his black and white striped socks. He told me he went crazy the past couple of months, and I replied: and the news is ...? Hahaha.

Anvaya Cove was exactly the break I needed from all the craziness that has been happening lately.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Finding Jerry

The day I met with Mailyn and Randy, I also ran into someone I have not seen in 20 years: our Pol Sci blockmate Jerry. He called my name in Shangri-La Mall and I knew instantly it was him. One thing led to another, and that same Saturday Ches, Nico, Lei, and I had dinner with him. (I told him he must really mean a lot to Nico, if Nico could suddenly be free on such short notice. Normally setting up anything with that guy is like scheduling an audience with the Pope. Hahaha.)

It was pure serendipity and perfect timing to run into Jerry, right when we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of our freshman year in UP. He was one of the boys I got close to in Block A4. I had some kind of double personality in college: my best friends were Amor and Kai, who were Good Girls in every way, but then I also hung out a lot with the likes of Jerry, Nico, and Ches, who hardly even showed up in class and were The Height of Cool that early in college. Hahaha.

We all had great fun catching up with Jerry. We've stayed in touch with Nico thru all these years and years, but Jerry we have not seen since freshman year. So we told him to start from the top - from the time he left UP to when he went back to school to his various jobs here and abroad to building his family. Amazing what can happen in one's life in a span of 20 years. Jerry's daughter is actually taking the UPCAT already next month. Gasp. If we had any doubts at all about how old we've gotten, that single fact banished all of it. We are not only undeniably old - we are practically heritage. Hahaha.

The best part was reminiscing about the good, old days, of course. Jerry was actually our blockhead. I'd forgotten all about this until Nico reminded me. So Ches is supposedly the best-looking guy in the block, and we elect someone delinquent like Jerry as blockhead? Like I always say, A4 is one deprived block. Hahaha.

I'm not surprised why we chose him to be blockhead, tho. We all remembered how he had this way with everyone, male and female classmates alike, as well as those in between (yes, we had a lot of those in the block hahaha), and even our teachers. He is one of those people who are so warm, open, chatty, and perennially smiling. And tho he denies this, Ches, Nico, and I are unanimous in saying: he was a big flirt. Hahaha. He had this thing for our Bombshell Blockmate A and Kas I teacher ER. I kind of recalled that, like Ches, he was also the loveteam of our Comm I teacher Ms. P. The funny thing was, none of us had any memories of him actually attending classes with us. HAHAHA.

Some of the more amazing/shallow things we laughed about in the course of our dinner at Secret Recipe, and then cakes and coffee after in Cravings:

1. Jerry holds the distinction of being the only blockmate who has ever been to Nico's house in White Plains. Ches and I have both been in his Valle Verde house, but not White Plains. (Nico is a sucker for this kind of trivia. He's so gay. Hahaha.)

2. I gave Jerry a red shirt which I just borrowed from my brother. He saw me wearing it and liked it so much that I ended up giving it to him after I had it washed. Never mind that it was my brother's and not even mine to give away. Hahaha.

3. Nico loaned Jerry a white Guess watch, a gift from his mom and all. It was with him for months and months but then Nico ran into him and saw him wearing the watch and so Nico asked to have it back. Hahaha. I love this story. It kind of shows how carefree and stupid we all were in college. And I love that Jerry had no qualms about admitting that he would have kept the darned watch if only Nico hadn't caught him with it again. Hahaha.

4. Jerry ran into our Bombshell Blockmate A a few years back and cyberstalked her, which is how he knows about her newspaper articles and athletic activities. Hahaha. Ches seems to be the more persistent cyberstalker, tho, bcoz he is actually FB friends not only with A, but all the rest of our prettier blockmates. HAHAHA. (Like Bootsie says: 'mamiac'.)

5. Of all the girls he liked in A4, he liked me best. And he said this right under my husband's nose. Hahaha. You gotta admire this guy's candor. But before I could even let a crazy joke like that get into my smug little head, the three guys trip all over each other explaining that it was probably bcoz I was their buddy while the other girls were out of reach and hence mere fantasies. (The Tagalog word is way more graphic: 'pinagpapantasyahan'. Hahaha.) Now I don't know if this was supposed to be a compliment, bcoz I felt vaguely insulted. Hahaha. Sure, ok, I get it - I was liked best bcoz I happened to be accessible. It's not like I had any illusions about being a bombshell like A. Hahaha.

What a long, crazy, happy night. Must Definitely Do This Again.

(And since Ches had just bought me two UP shirts that afternoon, I ordered him and Nico to wear their Eheads shirts, too, so we could have a little fan club pictorial. Hahaha. Mine's fine print reads: 'Schoolmate ko rockstars'. How cool is that, right? I promised Jerry I will get him the UP shirt that says: '1986 UAAP Champions'. I know, I know - it's too sad it's laughable. Can you imagine - 1986?! Sheesh. Why did they even make such a shirt? Hahaha.)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Caramel Crazy

MIB has a funny way of dealing with stress – apparently he watches a movie by himself, or just goes to sleep. Haha. I told him, me I go out with my friends.

So it was perfect timing when Mailyn set up a meeting with me for this project we’re working on together. I’ve known her since college – she was in the other Pol Sci block – but it was in QT where we got close. We were both in the corporate law group, and travelled to Bangkok, Cebu, Bohol, Boracay, and all those other QT junkets together. Rhoel and I hosted her wedding reception. Her daughter Faith is one of my first godchildren. And I’m so happy working with her bcoz it means we spend only about thirty minutes actually doing work and spend the rest of the time catching up and laughing away. I loved her LV and Hermes stories in Paris and Venice. Yes, we are both travel whores. Haha. I’m so proud that she has become so successful, clearly valued in her company, and just so confident in dealing with everyone. It makes you believe there’s still justice in the world, when good things happen to good people.

And since our meeting was in EDSA Shang, I set up a dinner with Randy at Shangri-La Mall, bcoz he lives in the area. I think one mark of a true friend is that he readily agrees to see you, never mind how late the notice. Hahaha. He patiently went with me as I scoured all the usual shops. (I didn’t buy anything, tho, bcoz I’m still smarting from my latest Cath Kidston splurge. Dang.) And then we looked for a resto where we could get dinner and some yummy cakes. Our sweet tooth is one other thing we have in common. We were always buying and bringing each other chocolates and pastries in college. We always met in restos that serve good desserts – Gayuma ni Maria, Sugarhouse, and Dulcinea. We have A Mutual Love Affair With Caramel.

This time, our choice boiled down to two: Secret Recipe or Cravings. He thought the cakes in Cravings looked more luscious, and I was not about to disagree bcoz, hello, Cravings only serves The Most Yummy Cake In The Whole World: its bestselling chocolate caramel cake. This is the exact same cake that made up my daily diet when I was pregnant with Bootsie. Cravings was just a couple of minutes away from MWC where I was working then, and every lunch I would bug Thom to take me to Cravings where I would order two slices, one for each of us bcoz I couldn’t stand him dipping his fingers into my own. Hahaha. (If you think I’m mean, wait till you see me pregnant. Then I’m just completely unbearable. Hahaha.)

Of course, Randy had to agree with me that the Cravings chocolate caramel cake is perfect yumminess. We had it after the usual soup and salad bar and main courses. And the whole time I bombarded him with my office woes and he listened and commiserated like the perfect friend that he is. He actually left work early just to see me. Owww. I love Randy. He did not only manage to validate all my angst; he actually had me in stitches by the end of the night, definitely a much better mood than how he found me.

We made plans to see Magic Mike next. That should be fun. We'll be squealing like fangirls. Haha. I can’t wait.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dinner With Claretians

Ches took me to dinner with his high school batch mates at the reception hall of Claret Church. It was actually a fundraiser for his sick classmate. It’s sad, definitely, especially seeing him there with his wife and young kids. But at least we don’t just stop at saying ‘poor guy’ – we actually do something about it, right?

It was another classmate who organized the event. He is an international singer and invited all his singer and performer friends to participate. The concert was amazing, really. One of the best I have gone to in a while. The stand-out performers for me were two actresses from UP who recited lines from Florante at Laura, a singer from Singapore who expertly did Adele and Defying Gravity from Wicked (so of course I had to email Kaye about it), an opera singer from Macau, and a rock band who brought the house down with Salamat. Such a winner. My other favorite songs that were played that night were The Light Of A Million Mornings and Out There (from Hunchback of Notre Dame).

It was nice to see Ches with his high school friends and trying to imagine how he was then. I was shocked to realize he looks so much younger than most of them. People say this often about us – that we look way younger than our age – but I don’t really believe it bcoz even our old friends look exactly the same as they always did, give or take a few pounds.

I was also ecstatic to see Ches’ classmate whom I’ve been crushing on since the first time I met him. Lusting after is more like it, actually. HAHAHA. He is, hands down, the hottest guy in Chester’s batch. He is also out and out gay, hence Ches has no issues with me carrying on my fantasies about the guy. Hahaha. How sad is that.

And since I was the dutiful, behaved wife thruout the night, after dinner Ches took me to one of my favorite places on earth – Moonleaf. I love.

(Thank you, Ate, for my skinny jeans for 16-year-olds. And thank you, fast metabolism, for letting me fit in them despite my daily Moonleafs.)