Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Through The Fire

Some weeks, I don’t seem to do anything else but put out fires. Last time I checked, I studied to be a lawyer, not a firefighter.

What I learned from the latest scorching:

1. That there is no limit to what some people are capable of doing if you prove to be too pesky for them.

2. That the easy way out is hardly ever the best way, especially if it chips off your dignity in the process.

3. That a box of Lindt truffles and a couple of hugs (even the electronic kind) from loved ones go a long way in easing your dramas.

4. That ‘principle’ is not an archaic word and still counts for something.

5. That if something feels wrong, don’t do it. Even if it secretly scares the hell out of you, don’t do it. Even if it means going up against Goliath, don’t do it.

6. That the fact that no one has ever done something before does not mean it cannot ever be done, if you’re bold and stubborn enough.

7. That sometimes, when people say they will watch over you, they will actually do it – over and over, without fail.

8. That if you believe you’re in the right, stand your ground, and with a little help from good friends - you are capable of scoring epic wins.

Some weeks, when all you intend to do is put out fires, you end up igniting a full-fledged conflagration, hopefully bright enough to blaze a trail and light up the way for all the dark days ahead.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Oscar Season

It was only the third week of the year, and Babette has already watched most if not all of the Oscar nominees and Golden Globe winners. I felt pressured to catch up. Haha.

Les Miz I saw on opening day at Rockwell with Legal and two other office mates. It was a treat from one of the owners. Nice, huh. Les Miz lived up to all the hype. I’m not a fan of Anne Hathaway (except for Rachel Getting Married), but her I Dreamed A Dream was a showstopper. You have to give her that. My other favorites are, of course, On My Own (which, according to my friend Tanya is the national anthem of gay people hahaha), A Little Fall of Rain, and Do You Hear The People Sing. Watching the nearly three-hour long movie, it helped that I’m familiar with most of the songs, having gone thru what I call My Cultured Phase way back in high school, when I had better taste than, say, One Direction, no thanks to my boys' influence. Hahaha.

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are fantastic actors, and they shone again and again and again in this film. It seems they can do no wrong. And who knew Wolverine could sing like that? As for Russell Crowe, he went about in this film moping like he’s still stuck in A Beautiful Mind. I wanted to stand up and applaud when his Javert finally jumped off the river. Hahaha. I’m currently crushing on Marius, a.k.a. Eddie Redmayne. I’ve liked him since My Week With Marilyn. I also read this interview where he admitted he lied about knowing how to ride a horse to win this role, and when they were shooting the riding scene he almost got the entire cast killed bcoz of his little fib, and the director shouted thru his megaphone, ‘Eddie Redmayne, you’re an effing liar!’ Hahaha.

I watched Silver Linings Playbook next, bcoz I thought it was exactly the kind of quirky love story I’m such a sucker for. I was so right. Jennifer Lawrence has gotten a lot of nominations and awards for her role here, but I think Bradley Cooper also deserves two thumbs up.

I like how Argo presented a fair background of the whole incident, that the US is partly to blame for the way Iran views it. I also like how the film is so authentic to its era – from the clothes to the hair and glasses and beards. Hollywood is so cool like that.

I couldn’t finish Zero Dark Thirty in one sitting. Not only was it long, it was also too heavy and raw. The best part about the whole story? A woman is behind the capture of Osama bin Laden. One brilliant, stubborn, amazing woman. What have I been telling you all along? Girls rule!

Daniel Day Lewis so deserves the Oscar for Lincoln. I could not even see the actor in the film, all I could see was Honest Abe, the great, beloved, lanky leader of Gettysburg Address, the giant sitting statue in Lincoln Memorial in DC. He was so, so good. If this film wins Best Picture at the Oscars, it will be well-deserved, and courtesy for the most part of Daniel Day Lewis. I told Ches this film gave me a nosebleed, tho. I think I would have appreciated it a whole lot more if I brushed up on the civil war and American history and all of that before watching it. This is what I get for not studying my lessons in school. Dang.

I have this rule where I don’t watch the movie versions of books I’ve already read and like, bcoz most of the time, the movie just ends up mangling a perfectly fantastic story. Life of Pi was one such great book, but I made an exception and watched the movie, anyway, bcoz (1) Babette said she liked it on 3D, and (2) Ang Lee. How can you resist Piscine Molitor Patel + Richard Parker + Ang Lee? It’s too much. And the movie was not a letdown, too. It was faithful to the book, and brought it gloriously to life.

My favorite out of all these great, new films is Django Unchained. I’m not a fan of the Western genre, but this is a Quentin Tarantino film. And whatever Tarantino film I can get my hands on, I watch. This was every bit as enjoyable as his other work – gory and unapologetic, dark and yet hilarious. I think watching this film, I’ve finally figured out what makes Tarantino so fantastic – he makes movie-watching fun. I still laugh out loud when I think of the scene where Django rides on his horse in his shimmering royal blue coat and matching billowing pants, and one of the slave girls asks him if he really is a free man, and when he nods she asks: “You mean you freely chose to dress like that?” Hahaha. Vintage Tarantino. Too perfect.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ely On Repeat

Bcoz the first one was so successful, Ely Buendia just had to do a repeat of his Music Museum concert. And of course, I was so there again. Heck, I saw Titanic four times in the theaters, I'm definitely gonna go and see Ely over and over again! Unless I'm abroad or broke or both. Hahaha.


I was hoping to bring my brother this time as my date, but he couldn't get out of babysitting Rain. (Rain is such a daddy's girl.) So it was me and my default date again, Chestnuts. Haha.


It was pretty much the same playlist as the last concert, which was also pretty much the Trinoma playlist. But who's complaining, right? I'm just glad Ely likes to sing Lightyears and Tikman, even if they're not as popular as the other Eheads songs, bcoz these two are my favorites. Ches has long been clamoring for Spoliarium, and somehow this time I was craving for Balikbayan Box. (Quark Henares wrote in the Esquire article that at the LA concert, people were crying when the Eheads did Balikbayan Box. I cried, too, reading it, and Ate laughed at me. Hahaha.)


Ely: Welcome to the repeat. Mukhang kayo kayo ulet.

HAHAHA. You're so right, Ely.


The first concert was more fun, for me. Ely had a lot of spiels then, the playlist was longer, and the crowd more rowdy. What was special this time was, Ely's father was in the audience, and Ely called him and he stood up and said a few words. Nice.


The only spiels Ely had this time were:

This is called the greatest hits concert, but I just want to sing this song bcoz it's a greatest hit, in my own humble opinion.

And he proceeds to play Wanted Bedspacer. (It is a fantastic song. The melody reminds me of Bus Stop.)


He also said his usual crazy statements:

I just wanna tell you about this thing we're doing ... wag na lang.

HAHAHA.


Aside from Wanted Bedspacer, he also did three other non-Eheads songs: Higante (the opening song), Diablo, and Wasak Waltz. And they are all really good and worthy of being part of Ely's greatest hits, even if they are not as familiar as the Eheads blockbusters. Wasak Waltz he co-wrote with Francis M., and is an ode to friendship like my favorite from The Dawn, Salamat.


Itaas ang kamay at iwagayway
Masarap mabuhay
Itaob na ang tagay
Saan ka man pumunta
Meron man o wala
Diyan nagsisimula
Ang wasak na pagsasamahan



The stand-out for the night was still Magasin, for me. There is just something so eerily perfect about it being given a slow love song take by Ely, with the exquisite strains of violins accompanying it. Sa Magasin pa lang sulit na ang repeat. Hahaha.


For his part, Chester's favorite was Superproxy, altho he wished Ely would also do the rap part like he did at the Final Set concert. Ches likes Superproxy bcoz he can so relate to the part that goes 'napapagod ka na ba sa kakayakap sa asawa mo'. Hahaha.

Ches also counted the orchestra, and there were only two back-up singers this time, so it's really just a 13-piece orchestra, not 15 as the posters say. We demand a refund. Hahaha.


The closing song was Ang Huling El Bimbo, of course. In the Esquire article, Ely was quoted as saying that this song is extra special to him bcoz it always signals the end of another concert, and the potential of new things to come. Nice. This song is special to the audience, too, obviously. When this song comes on, there is suddenly a hush that descends on everyone, and you can see people choking back all kinds of emotions, and showing the kind of reverence that we don't even give to the national anthem. And all for what? A song about a girl who ends up washing dishes. Sigh.


Ches and I wore Eheads shirts, of course. This time our matching Final Set ones from Team Manila. Tonight was definitely our happiest date of the year yet.




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The (How Not To) Diet Diaries: Sambokojin


So Legal had left-over money from last year, and the girls decided we were going to use it up at Sambokojin and Gong Cha. My life in the office is so easy bcoz the girls do all the thinking, all I have to do is tag along. Hahaha.

My favorites in Sambokojin are the sushi bar, all the fresh stuff for grilling, and the Japanese rice and sukiyaki that are not in the buffet but you can order and they are prepared for you. For me, Sambokojin and Yakimix are about the same, except that the former has better desserts. Yakimix has sansrival and brownies straight from Goldilocks. Sambokojin at least has its own pastries, and they serve snooty fruits like kiwi and peaches, too.

The girls take pictures of Karen and me cooking bcoz this is one of the few places you will ever see us use or even touch kitchen utensils. We are both The Undomestic Goddesses. What can I say? We're pretty skilled at shopping. Hahaha.



We also take pictures of Thina and Her Prawns. Thina LOVES her prawns the way I love my salmon. Any buffet passes muster for Thina as long as it has prawns. While MIB gets steak for dessert in Circles, Thina gets tempura. Hahaha.


Me: Thina, magse-share ka ba sa akin ng prawns na niluluto mo?
Thina: .....
(Clearly she had no intention of sharing.)
Karen: Mag-share ka na, malapit na performance evaluation natin!

HAHAHA.

The last time we were all here was with MIB and a large group. This is one of those restos where the staff sing and bring out a cake for you if it's your birthday. Karen's birthday was long past, but the guys had this brilliant idea to play a prank on her and tell the waiters it was her birthday. And so they all came out singing and clapping for her, with a mini chocolate cake and a candle on top that she had to blow. It was fantastic - at least for all of us except for Karen who looked like she just wanted the floor to open up and swallow her. Hahaha.

This time, an elderly woman was celebrating her birthday, and the staff did the same production number, except that this time it even came with loud canned music of the birthday song.

Me: Baket nung kinantahan si Karen walang kasamang music? Ulitin natin!
Ann, Anji, Thina: Game, game!
Karen: Wag na, utang na loob!
Me: Sige, malapit na performance evaluation!

HAHAHA. I'm such the good, kind boss.

Monday, January 21, 2013

CK+HK

And the post-holiday gifts keep coming.

One of my favorite couples got me two of my favorite gifts this past Christmas. First I got this elegantly ribboned box that simply said Swarovski. So I thought, hmmm, this is either jewelry or a pen.


I opened it, and I was right, it was a pen, with Swarovski crystals. Exquisite. And then I saw the little trinket dangling at the tip - and it's Hello Kitty!!! Omg. I didn't know this couple even knew I like Kitty, so I was kind of embarrassed receiving this gift from them. But overjoyed for the most part. Haha.


The Swarovski Kitty pen perfectly belongs with my Seattle's Best 2013 planner from Chestnuts. Some things in life are so meant to be.


As if that weren't enough, the same friends also gave me a Cath Kidston Notting Hill Rose zipped bag. (Yes, I know these bags' proper names. No surprise there. Haha.) The bag is from the recent line, and the print, color, size, and shape are all too perfect. This zipped bag is supposed to replace the box bags, which look a lot bigger, but I've discovered that the zipped bag is actually just as roomy. What a winner.



What is always the best part about fabulous gifts like these is, it makes you realize how loved and blessed you are, to have friends who take the effort to make you happy. (Thank you, D and G. I'm honored to be your friend. You are two of the most brilliant and kindest humans I know. Please adopt me already. Haha.)

With my new Hello Kitty and Cath Kidston in tow, 2013 is so off to a good start.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fifteen Minutes

We were having dinner on New Year's Eve when Babette texted that Ate and Bryan made it to Esquire's December issue. It turns out it was Quark Henares who took their pix and interview at the Eraserheads' New Jersey concert - and both their pix and quotes made it to Quark's Esquire article on the Eheads' US tour. Major cool, huh.



It was so lucky that Juni happened to buy Esquire and Babette recognized the pix from my blog. Otherwise we would never have known about Ate and Bryan being featured in the thing. I subscribe only to Reader's Digest, and all the other mags I get to read I do so for free in spas and salons (haha). Fittingly enough, tho, I have one other Esquire from last year - Ches bought it for me bcoz Ely Buendia was on the cover.


The December one with Ate and Bryan had Enrile on the cover, so, no, neither Ches nor I would have EVER bought it. Hahaha. (Thanks, Babette!)

This is actually not Ate's first fifteen minutes of fame. She also made it to the Top 10 of this contest sponsored by a website. You have to send a pix showing why you're The Ultimate Rondo Fan and the pix that gets the most views wins the prize (to play H-O-R-S-E with Rondo himself). Ate sent her pix at the last minute, but made it to the Top 10, anyway. Winner!


Ate says it's her winning signs that make her Suddenly The Famous Fan. Hahaha. True.

Of course, Ate and Bryan are also regulars in TD Garden, so if you watch the TV screen closely - they are right there. Snooty.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fifteen Days

The world stops when Ate's here. All my friends know this. Thus, none of my usual brunches or movies or whatever - I transform into Ate's little personal assistant the whole time she's here.

Since she was going to be here for only a short time, we had to make an itinerary and try to squeeze in as many activities as we could. Even before she got here, Yoshi already had a list of restos we should take her to. I took care of the girly part like shopping and spas. Haha.

We got foot spas and mani-peds in Spa 101. Omakase was right nearby, so we had dinner with Ches there. Ate likes her sushis cooked, so this place is perfect. I'm glad she liked my favorites, American Dream and seafood dumplings. Just upstairs is Gong Cha. This would turn out to be Ate's favorite out of the 60 million milk teas she tried. Haha.



We also had hair spas at David's, right above our favorite Taiwanese resto, Yen Yen. This lunch was a major winner for Ate mainly bcoz of the huge serving of yummy eggplant with minced meat. Ate LOVES eggplants. She HATES her veggies with the exception of eggplant. (I think eggplants are just pretend vegetables. I don't think they even have any nutrients. They probably just got thrown into the garden with the real veggies like ampalaya and okra. Haha.)


We had milk teas at Sharetea across the street. I liked the Okinawa I ordered. (This is where Ches got me the pearl milk tea in one of our previous meals with the boys in Yen Yen. Ches is so good like that - running across the street to get me my milk tea while we eat.)


The main point of our San Juan sojourn, tho, is the Greenhills tiangge. I remember last year Ate emailed me from out of the blue that she misses Greenhills tiangge. I must have replied that I'd trade it any day for the Wrentham outlet shops. Hahaha. We went shopping in Kamiseta, too, of course. Ate and I have been diehard Kamiseta fans since college. We even managed to convert Mom so she's now also a fan.


Ate also slept over a couple of times at home. So we were able to take her to some of our favorites in the neighborhood like Moonleaf and Toasted Siopao (the latter is just the boys' favorite coz I don't eat siopao). She even found the time to make cathedral window gelatin with the kiddies. (So now the boys have been bugging me when we're going to make the darn thing again, as if they don't know I cannot even cook rice or egg. Groan. This is one of those times where I just pretend to be deaf and/or single. Mwa ha ha.)



And then we were off to Mall of Asia to see my beloved derma whom Ate also adores. This was also the perfect chance to meet our favorite nephew Bogey and nieces Elysse and Andrea. (E's boyfriend Yves also joined us and chatted me up the whole night. Now I know you read this blog, Yves - so I'm careful not to write anything negative about you. Hahaha.) We love these kids. They are so sweet and well-behaved. Their mom is our cousin, Manang Beth, who not only raised them well but also makes The Best Fried Peanuts.



We had dinner at Royal View resto which is now where one of my favorite MoA restos, Hongkong Emperor, used to be. It was a good spot from which to watch the Saturday night fireworks.



The resto is right across Team Manila, which just happened to be selling limited edition Eraserheads shirts. Of course, Ate just had to get the El Bimbo one. Hahaha. Such an addict.


And then it was Rain's third birthday dinner in Barrio Fiesta. Yoshi has been in crispy pata heaven since Ate got here. Those two are so MFEO in so many ways, from the bad food they love to eat, to their aversion to dentists and medicines, to their penchant for overacting and drama. I asked Yoshi if he wants to go with Ate to Cape Cod, and his answer was a resounding YES!!! This boy does not even think twice about leaving his family behind to be with his beloved aunt. Ding it.





It is actually also Grace's birthday this week. Ate and I love Grace. We wouldn't have such beautiful nieces if not for Grace.


I wasn't a birthday girl, but just the same my favorite brother brought me mangoes fresh from the neighborhood tree. He knows I love my mangga't bagoong, whether I'm pregnant or not, and makes sure to supply me with luscious green ones while they're in season. My brother is love.


Ate and I did not want to stand beside Vada in the pictures bcoz she was in full ball gown regalia and all the rest of us looked like yayas next to her. Groan. I told Vada, why didn't you tell me this was a formal occasion? I would've worn my evening gown, too! Hahaha.



So it was just fifteen days, but I think we were able to make the most of it. We were all just happy being able to spend some time with Ate. I was also pleased with myself bcoz for all the times I took her out - to the spas and milk teas and Omakase, Yen Yen, and Daewang - I paid for everything. I even bought her two shirts from Pinoy Lab. (In all fairness, she made me pay for them. Hahaha.) I remember the last time she was here two years ago she was still paying for everything every time we went out and I even asked her to buy me stuff when we went shopping. I think it's a sign that I've made something good with my life if I can finally, finally afford to treat my big sister when we go out. Hahaha.

Thank you for the fifteen days, Ate. It was awesome. Till the next one.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Inday's Day Off




I took Ate to Ches' and my favorite spa, Shui in Libis. We love the ventosa and dagdagay there, and their hilot is the best shoulder massage we've had.

Since we were in the area, we went to Eastwood as well. Ate spotted Serenitea and we bought milk teas. And then we saw the Walk of Fame and looked all over for the star of Ely Buendia. Hahaha. Cultists. He didn't have a star, or if he had we didn't find it, but we did see a couple of good ones.

Ate wanted a pix with the star of Paraluman bcoz she likes to pretend she's Ang Huling El Bimbo, especially after she went to the Eraserheads concert in New Jersey, and her picture and interview with Bryan were featured in an article by Quark Henares in the December issue of Esquire. Yes, she is Suddenly The Famous Fan. Hahaha. (More about that in a separate post.)


Trivia: I have the same birthday as Ate Vi! What a hoot, right? My mom was actually watching Vilma Santos' birthday bash on TV when she started getting contractions, and I was born around 10 PM the same night. Babette points out it's a good thing I wasn't named Vilma, bcoz with that name I'd have a harder time being such the maldita. HAHAHA.


Ate posed with the stars of Pinoy pride like Lea, Manny, and Jessica. You don't even need second names if you're as famous and great as these people.



This one's for you, Kaye! It's our favorite news anchor, no less. He now endorses our product, C-Lium, too. Hahaha. (Yes, promote your own.)


I LOVE Bella Flores. She's the quintessential Pinay villain. She's scary looking - with her penciled-in eyebrows, crazy hair, and perennially hoarse voice. Her characters always dress slutty, too. It's like she has no redeeming value whatsoever, and she makes no pretense about being good. Dang, I'd choose Bella Flores over Bella Swan any given day.


And then Ate spotted the star of Inday Badiday. We died laughing bcoz I've been taking several pictures of her in day-off poses, so Inday was just perfect.


Ate looks a little bit like Jean Garcia. Hahaha. So jejemon.


Ate wanted me to pose with the star of Pops Fernandez and pretend to be her sister. I told her, no you pose with your sister Pops ...


... and I will pose with my sister-in-law: Amy Austria. HAHAHA. Crazies.


We spent the rest of our day off malling. My favorite store out of all that we went to was Bayo bcoz it had country-style decor up on shelves. There were a couple of lighthouses, too. Lovely. (I love shopping in stores that exert the effort to look good on top of selling good stuff. It is for this same reason that I keep going to Kashieca even if I hardly buy anything there. I love the country-style white-washed furniture, and shabby chic touches thruout the store. It is also, hands down, The Best-Smelling Clothes Store. Try going in sometime.)





Dinner was at Daewang near home. This is my IT friends' favorite Korean resto, and I'm glad it has leveled up quite a lot since the last time we were here. Ches and I like it a lot better now than the neighboring Woorijib. We had the samgyupsal and its beef version (whose Korean term I don't know), japchae, this soupy beef dish, fried chicken for the kiddies, and the usual 60 million side dishes. Yummies. Perfect end to our day off.