October 27, 2012

Bite Into The Better Network

A cool ad by SMART.

When I know it's coming from the best,
I get super excited!

Temptation has never been this sweet.

I know what I want, and I know how to get it.

Guys wanna be me, girls want me. I can't help it, they can't help it.

Bite into the better network.
Smart is still "the better" network!

October 23, 2012

The Love Labyrinth

"I kinda figured that out already. You don't need to be sorry.  The things I told you yesterday, I did it for me. I let it all out, so I wouldn't have to agonize on the "what ifs" anymore.  Funny thing is I'm the one who regretted it for saying a little bit too much, too soon. I guess it's not really meant to be.  So, this is it, good luck to both of us.  I sincerely wish you true happiness. Good bye, R**." 
- Karlie, 23Oct12, 0548H

It was a blur how I got home from the office. Throughout my journey, only these words lingered in my mind. I kept looking at my mobile phone and read through the last trail of our text exchanges. Then I stared blankly through the car window as these words bluntly pierced my already battered heart. I wish I was wearing a mascara, so my face would be marked by black tears. I bet that could have been more melodramatic!  These good-bye pleasantries have become a familiar landscape. In retrospect, I've dealt with it so many times, it started to erode my essence into a pit. What has become of me?

Countless of times I let myself plunged into a love labyrinth.  I was lost, trapped, tripped, wounded and dazed by its intricacies. Countless of times I said never again. Then eventually I would revoke it and end up muttering here I go again. What is left of me?

I have gotten used to it that every time I get another shot at love, I tend to self-destruct and kill it long before it even flourishes.  Why do I do that? ... Why do I do that?


October 2, 2012

A Withered Mauve

I am jaded...

Of the countless ways I let myself drowned into the sea of love
Of gauntness of its promises leaving me like a withered mauve 
Of a thousand years I have waited to see it loom from a flame
Of the foolish times I've been a willing pawn in its cruel game    

But I won't give up...

Until I know it's you I see at the end of the road
Until our hearts speak the same language of the ode 
Until we break free from walls where our feelings are shunned
Until you see happiness as more than a fleeting "fun" 


Image credit: www.lovewayz.com

September 10, 2012

Pinoy Delis with Upper East Side Panache

Interesting conversations usually sprout out of yosi breaks at work. Earlier today, we had a few laughs as we glamorized some staple Filipino delis and gave it a gourmet twist. And this all started with them (my colleagues) mocking me at how I usually call JolliJeep (a make-shift food stand ubiquitous in Makati Business District; term derived from Jollibee, a famous fastfood chain in the country) a stand-alone cafeteria. Of course, I only call it that way in the context of "pag-iinarte" (feigning cheerleader/queenbee prattles) So please, don't raise your eyebrows just yet!

Here are some of the Pinoy staples we have baptized with an "Upper-East Side" nomenclature.

First Servings:

Tokneneng - L'Orange Quail Eggs in Balsamic Vinaigrette Sauce

Adidas - Jerk Chicken Claws (also in Balsamic Vinaigrette Sauce)

Lugaw - Snow Rice Porridge

Lumpiang Gulay (Hubad) - Asian Spring Veggies in Sweet & Sour Ganache

Paksiw - Sauerkraut Soup

Pinakbet - Mixed Gourd Bordelaise

Turon - Caramel-Glazed Plantain Lady Fingers

Ice Candy - Fruit-Burst Sorbet Canes

Buchi - Sesame Bean Truffles

Isaw - Gizzard Skewers and Yakitori

Palitaw - Rice Patty with Aloha Sprinkles

Biko - Coco Fudge Rice Cake  

Would it taste differently given its gourmet pretense? Maybe. The power of suggestion can be compelling!

I'd love to hear your sosyal version of our delis. Com'on, this can be fun!  


Photo Credit: www.karenlacanilao.com

August 29, 2012

Amazing Thailand!

I went to Thailand with some friends last year, a week before a political unrest got out of hand and the militant group successfully took over the Bangkok International Airport.  We would always be thankful for our sound timing in avoiding what could have been a traveler’s nightmare.

We arrived at the Bangkok Airport at around 1 am (that’s the downside of promo fares, as almost always, they are scheduled during the most uncomfortable time of the day). But it’s ok, as long as we get better deal, nobody’s complaining!  I had an impression that Thailand may be more progressive than the Philippines. For one, they can boast of a bigger, if not nicer, airport.  There's a certain exuberance in the atmosphere which makes everyone feels that Thailand’s a happening destination nowadays. Judging from the packs of travelers donned in their “cultural embellishments,” which hinted their geographic origins, it almost looked like there's always an international forum or cultural summit somewhere in Bangkok. 

We took an airport cab to get to Ratchathewi, where we checked-in at Bangkok City Suites. It’s a standard bed-and-breakfast inn located along the Petchburi Road. It is slightly off-the-hook of the main thoroughfares.  But still nobody’s complaining, because,  for a measly 2,600 baht (or P3,800), we already have a very comfortable accommodation for 4 days-3 nights adventure, plus a hefty buffet Thai breakfast and free WIFI access! Any budget inns in all of Metro Manila can’t beat that!

Bangkok City Suites - Hotel Facade

Standard Room

Thai Buffet Breakfast

Hotel's Exotic Lobby
Day 1
Bangkok City Tour

We arranged for a city tour at the airport upon our arrival. For 100 baht (or P150/ person), we get our own mini-tour bus and a tour guide named Goi, who can actually speak English (thank God!). For half a day, we were brought to all of the major temples in the city.  Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country, so it boasts some of the most exotic and humongous temples in all of Southeast Asia. 

Inside Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha
We were also brought to the city’s jewelry and native apparel shops.  We got a glimpse of Thailand’s fashion sense and sensibilities.  It’s slightly suspicious though that store attendants seemed to be extra pushy to make a sale.  Talk about hardcore selling. Later we realized we almost fell trapped into a sly marketing scheme (or more like a “modus operandi”) masked as an innocent city tour package. There were horror stories about this modus - few unsuspecting travelers being lured to buy exquisitely crafted but knockoff jewelry (for big discounts). So be more discerning. If buying precious items is not part of your travel itinerary, stick with it; don't make any impulse buying that you may regret later.

The Floating Market
Day 2
Bargain Shopping

Any Bangkok travel wouldn’t be complete without bargain shopping! So, we went to Platinum Mall situated at the epicenter of Pratu Nam's shopping district. It’s probably the most popular and accessible mall in the entire Bangkok.  Think of an upscale 168 Mall only situated along EDSA.  

We also visited the Chatuchak Market in Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road.  It's about 30-min drive from Pratu Nam.  They say it's one of the world's largest flea market - definitely a shopper's haven.  It sells just about anything - from clothes, shoes, city souvenirs, exquisite furniture, pets, jewelry, accessories, native figurines, exotic food, etc.  It offers even better deals than the Platinum Mall.  So needless to say, we spent the entire day rummaging through the goodies and honing our bargaining skills.  We were so overwhelmed by it, we even sacrificed a tour at the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo. (Talk about impulse buying haha!)

Bird's Eye-view of the Ratchathewi
(Tip: Before leaving your hotel, ask an English-speaking concierge to write your destination (in Thai) in a piece of paper, so a cab driver can just read where you intend to go.  Talking to a local can be frustrating since most of them do not speak English. It will save time and trouble. Trust me.)

Platinum Mall Entrance
Exotic Thai Cuisine

One major reason we went to Thailand is to experience authentic Thai cuisines.  A friend suggested that to experience real Thai cooking, we should “do” the street foods.  So we were bold enough to try anything on the street.  Streets by day look like a normal street, but, by nighttime, all the “make-shift” restaurants start to pop out in every street corner of Rachathewi (picture “Jolly-Jeep” in Makati only with more tables and real waiters to assist you).   
The Night Life

"Bangkok by night", as we've seen in some Thai movies, mostly happened in Patpong. It collectively resembles the night market in Greenhills and Divisoria, food expo ala Banchetto in Ortigas and the red light district in Burgos St. Makati all rolled into one jam-packed nightlife scenery. There are two parallel strips of bar joints which cater for man and women/women-at-heart customers respectively. Trust me when I say that all possible "gimmickries" to attract   patrons are there. In fact, I didn’t realize prostitution is legal in this country until I got here.  But don’t get me wrong, my visit is strictly wholesome! 
Ok, I may have gone a little naughty (just out of curiosity and that my slight hesitation was overruled by majority of clamors from my friends to check out some bars). So we checked out one of the infamous bars situated at the far end of the strip. Upon entrance, we immediately sensed a decadent vibe  to it. There's a gigantic aquarium staged at the center of a mini-amphitheater, which is definitely not intended for a marine life display! We were escorted to our designated seats by a barely-claded usher, who resembled a resurrected waiter from Studio 54. The waiting didn't last long as the "maritime" show started with a sudden plunge of mermen swaddled in a "delicate" piece of "loincloth." The performances went wild. To say that I've seen both my wet dreams and nightmares come alive is an understatement! It transcended the theatrics.  Amidst the acrobatic exhibition of a human coitus (to borrow Sheldon Cooper's term), I had to deal with the fact that I'm seated between my Christian friend, who was severely "abominated" by the unfolding vile spectacle, and a geriatric Caucasian (probably European) straight couple who seemed to be enjoying every moment of it. It was crazy and so "wrong" in so many levels! It was a little bit tacky for my taste, but still a very, very interesting exposition, which I'm not looking forward to experience ever again! Bazinga!

Patpong's Men's Club

Patpong Girl/Gay Club

 "Bloody-nose" signage!
Missing "S"

Missing "S" found!

Thailand is both very similar and quite different with Philippines. It doesn't offer any more spectacular views and tapestries than what Philippines already have. Its main selling point though is the cultural experience.  And it's quite an experience! 

At the end of the journey, another bedazzled traveller can definitely say, Amazing Thailand!

*This is a re-posted article with inclusion of additional photos and details about my travel.
Original posting date: June 26, 2011.








August 16, 2012

Music and Musings

I'm a little bit introvert in person.  Surprise, surprise! Yeah, I usually talk more in writing than in real life. Save for usual conversations at work, or with friends, I normally retire early in any social gathering and prefer just being alone elsewhere in my musings. Oftentimes, I shut the world off with my earphones. I love listening to music.  I like how it transports me to a certain trance where I conveniently dismiss the usual grunts and growls of the city. My taste in music is generally eclectic. But usually, I like it a little bit sad, dark, and theatrical. Here are some of my picks:

Some Nights by Fun

Sail by Awolnation

Landslide by Smashin' Pumpkins

Coming Up Easy by Paolo Nutini

Use Somebody by Kings of Leon

Run by Snow Patrol

Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve

Love is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse

Timshel by Mumford and Sons

Empty Space by Air Traffic

August 13, 2012

The Art Of Getting By

We were born alone and we will die alone… everything in between is just an illusion.  
–George Zinavoy, The Art of Getting By

I wonder how life was like in George’s eyes (the film’s protagonist). Everyday, he has to juggle different layers of social dynamics with people and things around him he considered artificial.  Like it wouldn’t matter if he did great in his artistic endeavor or consumed a lustful rendezvous with a beautiful girl, because he's haunted with the realization that he will die eventually. He’s  resolved with facing death… alone.  Even the memories of it all become futile because he can’t bring it with him in the after life.  So, why bother? It's very convenient, if you'd ask me. Even liberating, perhaps.
But life is short and living like this makes it a tragic waste of time. So, how do we really make the most of our time? How do we “get by” this lifetime knowing that we have exhausted every means to make it worthwhile?
What is a worthwhile life anyway? Is it about being noble and selfless.  Dedicating ourselves to uplift the lives of others.  Or is it about enriching ourselves with worldly experiences, so by the end of our lives, we can say we have lived to the fullest.
It is a moral question we may face at least once in our lifetime.  Some may bother to ask… while some may just give their cold shoulders. Is it still relevant to view it as an ethical issue, when everyone seems to be consumed about how far can they push themselves to achieve greater heights of freedom (economically, socially, politically, etc.) to alleviate their maybe downtrodden lives or to simply gain more affluence.
People revolve around the paradigm of consumerism, hyper-consumerism even (for some cultures). Is there any concern left on feeding our starving soul? Our insatiable gut seems to be an effective antidote to forget our intrinsic need to validate meaning out of our lives. Have we become masters of getting by

Just asking another rhetorical question.
Of course, I don't mean to be preachy (duh!). I just wrote it all down because I liked how it sounded in my train of thought and how its undertones coincidentally mimicked my favorite muse, Carrie Bradshaw, whom my nom de plume took inspiration from! It felt like a good political speech or something! haha

On a serious note, I recommend this movie.  It's a coming-of-age film. But the plot is very insightful.  It can give an inpirational push for someone who needs a second coming-of-age! 

August 7, 2012

A Thumpa Thumpa Moment

One after lunch with colleagues. We were waiting for a lift to our designated office floor when Beyonce's Love On Top reverberated throughout the lobby. Soon as we embarked the elevator,  we were already humming the melody as if its thumpa thumpa vibe suddenly possessed us all. It was one of those unrehearsed moments when our wavelengths magically aligned as we strutted our way back to work while performing an impromptu Beyonce number.  Yeah, that definitely perked up a rather mundane day in a way only Sasha Fierce can!


Photo Credit: NeSsY

July 31, 2012

Overhauling A Cliché

Time Flies by Neal

The series of unfortunate paradigm-shifting events in my life has prompted me to finally push the button, my personal button that I've dreadfully hesitated to push because I was too preoccupied on being... me. I've managed to put myself inside the bubble of my larger-than-life ego.  I let it nestled me with delusions of romanticism and bourgeoisie.  But don't get me wrong, I don't have an "Upper-East Side Complex." I'm not exactly superficial. I've lived within my means, which is usually scarce but not totally marginalized. Typical of the working class in Philippines setup, which loosely translates to working (or rather toiling) just to pay the bills. Wait, that's the "marginal" definition of being marginalized, isn't it? Hmmm... that's my ego tweaking the reality again - doing what it does best! 

The button I'm dreading to push is the one that bites me- my reality, in its barest essence, stripped off of my ego and all of its romantic sugarcoats.  The reality that I'm not spared to get my hands dirty (if I have to or I really need to). I have this self-notion that I'm actually smart or at least that's what the pedagogical institution where I came from made me believe. But the world is tricky and is far more complicated than the book. I may not be as smart as I think after all.  

The reality is I'm still a novice, despite all these years, in this university called life (ergo, a piercing stab in my ego). But I see it now. I've realized that I don't need to be politically-correct or morally/ethically-guarded at all times. I've seen so many crooks made it through the straight line which never fail to titillate my already unamused gag reflex. Surprisingly, they can get away with it. Hence, my long-standing but achingly banal and rhetorical question: Where's justice to it?!  However, I've realized, these crooks are not merely one-dimensional characters we see of typical villains from movies. Mostly their motivations are circumstantial brought by harsh realities of life, which obviously I'm also not spared of; which my ego has so slyly tranced me into self-denial. These crooks are real people only maybe one or two degrees separated from my sugar-coated life. They live by the now, by their instincts. No bloated ego to answer to. It's actually efficient. Time flies. And I have yet to establish a common ground where my ideals and the reality may meet comfortably.  Or should I just go by my instincts just like the rest of the crooks? Maybe I'm a closeted crook?! This ego has definitely turned me into a very confused nutcase!  

The recent and unexpected demise of my beloved mom made me realize how little time I had to deliver the goods, how all my promises turned hallow. Perhaps, one of my biggest regrets, which I've mentioned on my previous post, is not taking chances to risk it all to afford better life for her. 

Maybe, now is the perfect time to get a fresher perspective of a time-tested cliché. Time is gold, sure. But maybe the gold can be overhauled and dissected into 86,400 seconds/$ a day, renewable but ironically non-recycable.  Maybe it's time to burst the bubble that my ego has inflated for so long and protected me for so many wrong reasons.  Maybe I gotta hear more from Elvis of the ghetto.

A snippet of inspiration.

We are 86,400 seconds richer, everyday. But it doesn't carry over the next day. Imagine an awful wastage it really is if we don't spend it shrewdly.  
                                                                               - Elvis de Leon, Live Inspired

July 18, 2012

June 18, 2012

Like A Thief In The Night

Grief struck me one fateful summer day of April, the day when my mom died suddenly... unexpectedly. Her death sentence: Acute Coronary Syndrome. 

I was having lunch at my office in Makati when my brother called to tell me Mom's in the ER. She had difficulty breathing earlier in the morning, but he assured me, she's already stable.  An hour later, my brother called again, this time in panicky tone, and told that Mom's now being revived. Then the line was cut. And throughout the next 30 minutes, I tried calling him fervently to demand for a clearer answer. But he didn't answer. My mind and heart were both racing with unspeakable thoughts and qualms. It never dawned on me that it's that bad. I thought it was just a regular check up. After what seemed an eternity,  my aunt called, rather nonchalantly hinting that the battle was lost, and told me to come home in Batangas as my Mom's already gone. For that brief moment, I thought I lost my capacity to breathe. 

I packed whatever I could pull out of my closet and immediately went home.  It was the longest, most agonizing journey.  When I first saw her, lying lifeless in the morgue, I never had such a glaring desire to force myself into waking up my subconscious in hopes to break free from one tier of my dream to the next... as if I'm in the Inception.  It's as surreal as it gets.  I never experienced such bewilderment, anxiety, self-reproach and depression all squeezed in just a day.  Nothing prepared me for this.  My life, as I expect it or dream of it, will never be the same.

This post was the hardest to write.   For more than a month now, every time I attempt to finish it, I always end up sobbing, reminiscing the days when my mom was here and alive.  But I know I need to do this. I need to let it all out. Regrets come along when you lose the chance to make it right the first time… when there is still time. Pain which roots from regret is probably the most unbearable.  I regret not spending more time with Mom. I regret not fully owning up to the person she taught me to be - considerate, generous, selfless. I regret not taking chances to risk it all to afford better life for her. I regret not seeking her counsel at times when I could use her maternal wisdom because I’m too scared she may not be able to handle it. What was I thinking? How could I be so foolish to assume she’s not strong enough to take it. I robbed her of her right to become the mother she ought to be. If only I could turn back time.  If only I could ask God for one more day to be with her, to tell her how I really feel.  To tell her how happy I am to have a mom like her – so accepting and selfless.  To tell her I’m sorry for everything. To hug her. To kiss her.  To comfort her. 

I thought, as time passes by, it will be easier to deal with it. But it isn't.  I’m not sure when and how will I ever let go. There’s always a thin line between being better because that’s how she would have wanted it and being worse so I could be with her soon.   

Everything didn’t make sense. I was lost in translation.  I tried to reason with and against Death. How can it be so cruel? I asked...  whyWhy didn't she get the same chance of getting through it alive, as did the rest of my relatives who had been in the same ordeal? Why didn't I even get a chance to talk to her and hear her final words.  Words that I could have kept lingering in my thoughts to keep her presence alive.

Death gave me a new perspective about life.  It does not wait for you until you get your act together to make up for your shortcomings with your loved ones.  It is not n'sync with your own sense of time. It showed me the greater scheme of things. Death reminded me that all I really got is NOW.

"Nobody notices when we leave. 
I mean, the moment when we really choose to go. 
At best you might feel a whisper or the wave of a whisper, undulating down." 
                                                                                 -The Lovely Bones

Image from www.wallpoper.com