Friday, July 31, 2009

Philippine Jeepney as National Costume

To rival Miss Japan, I figured the Philippines might as well turn to high fashion for inspiration.

For this costume, I take heavily from Thierry Mugler's motorbike corset recently worn by Beyonce for her music video, Diva:



and Karl Lagerfeld, who designed Ana Wintour's Met Gala costume in 2008:



Tadaaan!

Basically, it's a corset made out of Jeepney parts. Those are the side mirrors on her shoulders. Headlights are on her breasts, lol. The jeep's hood make up the transition from the corset to the bottom. If only I could draw a horse statue, that'd make up her headpiece, lol. Oh, and eyewear by Margiela, haha.




Here's where I apply the Lagerfeld inspiration to include the jeepney's wheels. Initially, I designed this as a long mermaid dress, but I think it'll look better as a mini.




So there you go! Lol.


Agua: An Urban Massage Salon


This was one of our surprise discoveries in Cebu. Located in the same compound as our hotel, Maxwell, Agua is simply one of the best massage places I've ever been to.

It is run by the lovely and pleasant Ms. Choey, who was quick to point out that the massage oil the salon uses are organic, do not clog the pores and a project of Gawad Kalinga. True enough, after the massage, I went straight to bed (ergo: I didn't shower), and the next morning, my face wasn't oily at all!

Anyhow, that's getting ahead of my story.

Mon and I were delighted by the salon's interior: it was decorated in white and light teal. I thought the counter was chic too. The inside was even better: the hallway was lined with floor candles and there were beach chairs for the after-massage tea. It was obvious that the owner put a lot of thought down to the very little details -- I cannot pinpoint anything that was bad about the place (lol!) -- and at this point, I knew the service was going to be great.



The private room is small and bathed in blue light. A locker is available under the bed for storage.



I asked for a Swedish massage, which lasts for 60 minutes for P400. Other massages available are Shiatsu, Combination of Swedish and Shiatsu, Dry Massage, and the intriguing and what could be an orgasmic Four-Hand Massage: as in a couple gets to massage you!!! That costs P800 for 60 minutes and a little too kinky for my taste :-P so we just settled for the traditional one.

You know how you tell the masseuse you want it hard but she tends to just "pat" your body? At Agua, when you say "hard" then she really gives it to you hard. I also think their Swedish is akin to our own traditional hilot; she didn't stop massaging my back and shoulders until there was no more lamig (those gentle crackles and ripples in your joints and muscles).

After the massage, we lounged in the chairs and we were served Chai Tea Latte, which was superb. It was way better than Starbucks' and comparable to Coffee Bean's. Mon said he absolutely enjoyed his massage too, which means mine wasn't a fluke (meaning, I didn't just happen to get the good masseuse out of the bunch). He also found it so relaxing he dozed off for a few minutes after the massage.

Overall, it was heavenly: I will absolutely go back when I return to Cebu. It is also infinitely better than the salons/spas that have sprouted in the villages of Makati.

* * * *

I'm not sure what time Agua opens, but it doesn't close until 4 a.m. It offers room service for those staying at Maxwell but I suggest going to the salon itself as the ambiance and service are truly excellent.

Agua is located at Maxwell Hotel, N. Escario St., Cebu City, with telephone number (63 32) 412.2277


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ayala Center Cebu

I'm an urbanite: I cannot live without Greenbelt, Shangri-La Mall and Megamall. That's why the knowledge that there is an Ayala Center in Cebu calmed me, hehe. What I didn't know was how gorgeous it really was:





It was drizzling that day, hence the weather was cool and everything was green:



Business seems to be booming in Cebu. There are a lot of construction going on.


Ayee would have loved this :-P


The Marriott Hotel, the hotel to go for in Cebu City when you have the cash, hehe. The view from those windows must be fab.


I think this area of the mall is still new as there were still unopened stalls and shops.

These photos were taken at 11:00 am on a Saturday, and as you can see, there were barely any people at the mall. It was as if we had the place all to ourselves. I loved it.





This area of Ayala Center also has a two-story Fully Booked branch. I didn't get to take a picture as it must have been on a different side.

The old areas of Ayala Center however, were sad to look at. If you're used to Greenbelt, those areas are comparable to um, Starmall. Nevertheless, reliable brands are there: Topshop, Esprit, Levi's, Benetton, Folded & Hung, Bench, Penshoppe and Loalde are there. So is Rustan's. I didn't see Zara, Gap and Topman.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Casio watches

One of my favorite Pinoy fashion blogs, Styles I Love, previously featured watches by Casio. He made a good point: why buy astronomically priced watches when you can go for classics (okay, aside from the IWC Portuguese, which I will forever love). He featured three models from the MQ24 series, and guess what we found at a stall at the Mactan International Airport? Two of the models from the line!





Mon got the black and gold model and I got the black and white.

The best thing: they are less than P500 each :-)


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sunburst Fried Chicken

As I mentioned in my preceding post, my research led me to focus on the culinary offerings that Cebu has to offer.

In a previous Cebu trip, Pam and I walked a good 15 minutes -- straight from our hotel, downhill and in circles thereafter, thanks to her screwed sense of direction :-P to look for Sunburst, known for its chicken, with its deep-fried skin. We didn't find Sunburst then, so on this trip, I made to sure to visit it this time.





We found Sunburst at Ayala Center. It was well-decorated: well-lit with a contemporary earth-themed interior and plush seats. Everything would have been perfect except for this rather plebeian napkin holder and the many patches in the ceiling.



Prices were not bad: more expensive than Jollibee but cheaper than Max's.



As we were still full from breakfast, we decided to go light on our order. We had sotanghon soup and the basic chicken meal, which includes kamote fries and coleslaw.





In my research, I read that Cebu restaurants generally take longer to serve food. Twenty-five minutes would be the minimum waiting time, and that's just for appetizers. In this case, our soup took 15 minutes and the chicken, about 8 minutes after that. We were only one of three tables in the restaurant. We weren't hungry so we didn't mind.

The soup was good: oily as expected but definitely way better than what you'd find say, in Jollibee.



The chicken too was better than Jollibee's. It was thin-crisp so it's crunchy when you bite it off the chicken but easily melts in your mouth. On the con side, it's also so good that it tasted so unhealthy knowing how much oil is in there. I'd say Max's chicken is still better as that doesn't taste as cholesterol-laden.

Considering the restaurant's interior, service, food and value for money, I'd give Sunburst 3.5 out of 5 stars. No need to go out of your way to try it, but nice enough if ever you come across it.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Cebu City: Introduction, accommodation

I've been to Cebu several times but I've never actually seen Cebu. I haven't seen Magellan's Cross, the Basilica of Santo Niño and the Taoist Temple. Even during the time I covered the Sinulog festival, I was so focused on doing my interviews that I didn't get to see the parade.

Hence, when Mon asked me to join his colleagues travel south, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I was so excited I made plans to make sure that I'd be a true blue tourist -- I had a color map with my notes and arrows, haha.


Because you know, I'm a tourist, lol. Main door of the Basilica of Santo Niño.


My research for this trip led me to Anton of Our Awesome Planet, Bley of Blogalag, PinoyExchange and even PhilMug. Their posts made me decide to focus on the culinary offerings of Cebu -- aside from seeing the tourist spots.

To start my series of blog entries on Cebu, I will start with the accommodation. We booked ourselves at Maxwell Hotel, along N. Escario St. It is a fairly new hotel at less than 2 years old.

I was initially hesitant about staying here because there have been very few literature published about Maxwell -- but I couldn't say no to the price. At 1,500 a night for two persons (based on a promo until end-July), it was a steal considering that it was a 3-star hotel. I found several other accommodations less than 1.5k but from the photos, I already knew they were not up to my standards: cozy, clean, professional service by the staff, and inclusion of basic hotel amenities.



Please note that this is on the day of my check out, hence the mess :-P


Let me get to the pros:

1./ It has the best staff. Its service is like no other I've experienced -- and I've stayed at a few high-end hotels already, both here and abroad. Granted they are not dressed in the best uniforms or have perfect diction, their professionalism and attentiveness were excellent. For example, they always rush to open the hotel door for you. When we ask for stuff from Room Service, they are delivered to our room in NO LESS THAN 3 MINUTES (were we the only guests there? LOL). When we pass by, they stop what they are doing, make eye contact and greet us -- I thought that's a habit that is rarely seen from within the service industry these days. They are generally pleasant and a breeze to deal with: no one looks mataray. They even offer to do your pasalubong shopping, including lechon (two-days advance notice; minimum of 5 kilos at P300 each) for you: just fill up an order form and they'll prepare the stuff for you.

2./ Maxwell is north of Fuentes Circle and west of Ayala Center -- in other words, not bad. It is one jeepney away from Ayala and Magellan's Cross, though of course travel time would vary. Cabs are always available as the hotel is on a major thoroughfare.

3./ The lobby may be small, but it has free wifi.

4./ We checked-in at 7:00 am at no extra charge.

5./ It has a relatively OK bar/restaurant called Maxim's that served excellent Beef Steak Tagalog. It has pretty and friendly staff too.

6./ It has the second best massage place I've ever experienced. Note that I find it second to Nami's. More on that on a later post.

Cons:

1./ I found that the towels, though nice-smelling, had stains. See feedback in the comments.

2./ View leaves much to be desired, unless you enjoy looking at stained roofs.

3./ Airconditioning wasn't strong, though room temperature was adequate. I'm just not sure if it'd be OK at the height of summer.

4./ Hairdryer they provide is cheap. Mine overheated in less than 2mins of use, to the point that smoke came out of it. Um, unfortunately I didn't get to report it. Again, see feedback.

5./ Breakfast buffet was bad. Everything was soggy: the rice, hotdogs and eggs. Though, if starving, I'm sure I wouldn't have minded.

However, given the price and service, these are things one can hardly whine about.


Friday, July 24, 2009

The Japanese camel toe at Miss Universe

I imagined it to be slutty, but I didn't think it was going to be this slutty.

Last month, I blogged about the inspiration for Miss Japan's National costume, which I believe was taken from the pages of Vogue:



I even remarked amusement at the fact that the um, panty is showing.

But my gulay, I didn't imagine they'd really take the panty all the way to the Miss Universe pageant.






credit: Ines Ligron


The kimono's beautiful, no doubt. I'm not just sure about the display of the undergarment and um, that dent. Or am I being too conservative? According to Ines,

"I want to bring the image of beauty queens to a level which matches mine and not struggle to remain safe and politically correct. I believe that traditional beauty queens are irrelevant in today's world, and this is what most people think... In Japan, our media exposures have exploded since the past 5 years because we deliver a work that fits today's entertainment expectation. I wanted to share with you all my feelings, my views and my vision. This is what I just sent to the Miss Universe Organization."


The whole statement and more photos in her blog post.

I agree about making beauty queens more relevant; in fact, I cringe about using the terms, "beauty queen" and "pageant" because they do sound dated and trivial. However, I think it is also more than an image problem: what does one do to stay relevant? I'm sure there are other things to do than raising conservatives' eyebrows by way of crotch and camel toe display.

To Miss Japan's credit though, how is this different from the swimsuit competition? I suppose that since this is Japan's national costume, no one else can argue about this but the Japanese themselves. (Gosh, can you imagine if the Philippines' representative don something like this? Given our penchant for dramatics and overall ka-OA-an, this would be huge.)

On a less serious matter, I can only think of one person's influence over this: who else but Lady Gaga? She did perform last year at Miss Universe, albeit with her pants on:



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harry Potter and the Japanese fan girl

This is sooo funny. I wonder how it is to be this excited for someone and have someone be this excited for you. (In any case, "excited" is a gross understatement.) In these clips, she makes sure to touch the actors' faces, as if to verify that they are truly in front of her -- I am so LOLing at the sound she is making while rubbing Daniel, hahaha.

I wish I understand Japanese.

Video by Japan Probe:





* * * *


The Alfonso Cuaron-helmed Harry Potter movie is still the best for me. Not to say that I didn't enjoy The Half Blood Prince; it kept me in rapt attention for two-and-a-half hours. I just thought there were a lot of scenes that were left out, particularly those toward the end of the movie. I imagined the book way better.


Monday, July 20, 2009

(UPDATED) MMK presents Mar

Juice ko naman, Mar:



I am this close --> <-- to voting for you, but every time you go theatrical, i.e., garland of garlic at the Senate, padyak ad, I cringe and pull away.

Here's why Mar Roxas's ads are not working (for me, at least), particularly when compared to Manny Villar's (with whom I've issues as well; for a later post):

1./ The ads are generally made of empty promises. "Lalaban tayo." "Sama-sama tayo." "Ramdam ko kayo." Eh... and then what? It seems that the catchphrases are Mar's way of relating to the masses, given that he is of the Roxas-Araneta clan, but I feel that this is unnecessary: he has Korina Sanchez for that.

2./ The ads don't say what Mar has accomplished. Compared to Manny's ads -- which proudly and repeatedly trumpet that he grew out of poverty to become a real estate magnate; and that he offers a telephone hotline for marginalized Filipino expatriates (digression: why not start a shift in mentality by referring to OFWs as expats?) -- Mar's ads seem to assume that we fully know him already.


Spare us of showbiz antics; show us your report card.

_______________

To Mar's credit though, I know that he is the chief architect of the Cheaper Medicines Act. From this article, it is noted that he started to push for it when he was still DTI Secretary under Pres. Estrada.

UPDATE:

As to why one of the provisions in the Cheaper Medicines Act, that is the Maximum Retail Price, has yet to be signed by Arroyo, Journalist Ellen Tordesillas offers this simple explanation: inggit.

"Sabi ng isang source namin sa Malacañang inis raw si Arroyo na ang pipirmahan niyang executive order ay magagamit ni Roxas sa kanyang kampanya para presidente sa 2010."

The full post in her blog.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Not so brutal

No amnesty for Abu Sayyaf, says Palace

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:31:00 07/16/2009

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 2) Malacañang on Thursday declared that the government would not grant amnesty to the Abu Sayyaf, saying leniency could not be granted to “brutal criminals.''

“I have been authorized by the Executive Secretary to advise you that there will be no amnesty granted to the Abu Sayyaf Group,'” deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said in a briefing.

The decision, he said, was consistent with the government's position that “such leniency should be extended only to those accused of political offenses, not common criminals especially as brutal as the Abu Sayyaf.”


Apparently, for Gloria Arroyo, the killing of Maureen Hultman was not brutal enough.


At 26

On Sunday, I posted a video of the UP Pep Squad on YouTube. It is the same video included in my entry preceding this.

Now, I understand that the UP Pep Squad has both fans and detractors; in fact, all UAAP schools' cheerdance representatives do, as evident in the rabid exchanges in PinoyExchange threads such as this one: Road to the 2009 UAAP-CDC (CheerDance Competition). (Yes, those kids are supposed to be students and alumni of relatively good schools. Clearly, we can't put all the blame on Arroyo as to why this country is going downhill.)

My YouTube post has been getting comments, which I either delete or retain. Simply because I can't stand inane feedback such as this one left by a certain user, yourtl:

obserbasyon lang, bat ang katawan ng mga UP Pep parang mga nanay na at mosty ang face parang tiyahin ng ibang pep squads? harharhar


His age is listed as 26.

Let's put things in perspective. Jose Rizal wrote Noli Me Tangere when he was three months shy of 26. He was an ophthalmologist, sculptor, painter, educator, farmer, historian, playwright and journalist -- I suspect (with good reason), all before he was age 26. Granted Rizal is not exactly a standard 90 percent of the world's population can ever measure up to, but let's just say that at 26, our society and the Philippines already expect a lot from you.


Monday, July 13, 2009

School spirit

Last Sunday, I asked Mon to watch UP Maroon's basketball game at the Araneta Coliseum. We were up against the NU Bulldogs -- I figured it would be a good time to watch it live when our team actually has a chance to win, lol.

Tickets nearest to the court have already been sold-out; I couldn't quite figure out why that would be so when the league's cellar-dwellers are playing, until I remembered that Ateneo and FEU are scheduled for the second match. It was amazing how Ateneo students and fans have turned up for the event -- they were all early and dressed up in blue. They really take their basketball seriously, those Ateneans.

Inside Araneta, I found it amusing that the UP and Ateneo crowd naturally converged on one side while those of NU and FEU were on the other. Not saying anything; just stating a fact :-P We were also fortunate enough to be seated beside two Ateneo chicks who know the UP cheers.

The first quarter was promising -- UP led by as much as 12 points. Then it went downhill from there. The Maroons were flailing about wildly -- passing the ball to NU players; throwing it into the air and out of bounds; dribbling miserably; doing amazing passes behind one's back and neck but with miserable results... at that point, I bought popcorn just keep myself from saying dirty words.

We lost. To NU. Lol.

Thankfully, the UP Pep Squad saved the day during its halftime performance:



We tried to stay around for the Ateneo and FEU match but I just couldn't bring myself to deeply root for either team. In any case, it was a bit lopsided (much like the UP-NU match), as Ateneo clearly outclassed the FEU players.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I haven't even gotten there yet

... and yet Gatecrasher thinks it's the end of the man bangs era.

credit: Dlisted


Trust Dlisted to picture it more accurately:

"When Zac Efron flips his precious head, glitter will no longer gently float off of his locks. When Chace Crawford runs his fingers through his hair, the unicorns will no longer faint. That's because they both cut off their twink bangs! As did Jared Leto! Ellen Degeneres, the scissors are in your court."


LOL!

However, I think long hair suits Zack more than the short one does.


Monday, July 06, 2009

Stay away from Villa Estrella

This post is full of spoilers because frankly, who cares?

It's interesting for me that despite an atrocious screenplay, I cannot seem to hate Villa Estrella (that much). Maybe because it didn't even attempt to scare -- the sea monster (yes, the mumu is a funny-looking monster played by Maja Salvador) doesn't even shock or surprise. Instead, it announces its presence by bubbling itself up the pool, which makes one wonder why the eventual victims don't even attempt to run away given this warning.

In other words, it's fucking hilarious.

It all happens at the decrepit resort, Villa Estrella. I'll spare everyone of the cast's respective characterizations and background -- they don't matter anyway because their collective IQ is that of a mosquito's. Trapped in the resort are Shaina Magdayao and Jake Cuenca, former lovers; Geoff Eigenmann, her present boyfriend; Empoy, Geoff's friend; Ronnie Lazaro as caretaker; a lady staff and her daughter.

The pool is haunted by Maja Salvador, who claims her victims either by snatching them from the pool or pushing them into the pool. The movie established that the caretakers know the pool claims a victim every now and then. Of course, knowing this, no one should even go near the pool, but in this movie, everyone's brainless so they all wander near it (and despite the bubble warning as mentioned in the first paragraph). Their IQ also explains why no one even bothered to drain the pool despite the fact that no one has swam there in years.

Maybe the previous victims actually died of dengue and not by supernatural means. Or maybe Maja was not just a sea -- correction, chlorinated water -- monster but the queen of dengue. That would have made for a more interesting storyline.

As the monster of chlorine water, Maja has dreadlocks fashioned out of twigs. She is color green and spews out green bile, presumably algae.

She can also topple statues. In one scene, Shaina climbs a statue of a lady which overlooks the pool. The statue falls over and pins her down under the pool.

Of course, we're mean so Mon and I laughed at Shaina when this happened.

You'd expect Pinoys to be screaming out of their wits on this one -- I mean come on... it's a swimming pool monster!!! Instead, in the half-full (I'm an optimist!) movie theater, there was only one lady who kept screaming at the shocker scenes; we imagine she's the type of lady who screams at every mundane moments -- such as when the traffic light goes green, then she goes "Aaaay!" And there were only two who were laughing at the otherwise serious moments -- I and Mon.

At the end of the screening, the guy behind me couldn't help express his frustration: Ang corny naman!

Ang corny nga. But at least we got a few laughs out of it, and it is way better than Sundo. (But that doesn't say a lot, really.)

No need to waste your money on this. Just wait for it on Cinema One if you really like cheap thrills.


Friday, July 03, 2009

The curious case of Gloria's boob job

2nd UPDATE:

Arroyo admits she has breast implants


A spokesman of President Arroyo admitted Friday that Mrs. Arroyo had breast augmentation 20 years ago but denied reports that the implants were leaking.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde earlier downplayed rumors that Mrs. Arroyo had checked in at the Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa City to have her breast silicone implants removed and replaced.

The press secretary later changed his tune and admitted that Mrs. Arroyo did have breast augmentation 20 years ago but that the implants were not leaking.


* * * *

1st UPDATE:

OMG, I am speechless and I can't breathe! This beats Bubble Gang. The Palace has made a statement on Arroyo's... um, breasts: "Let the thing speak for itself."

See Palace won't confirm, deny if Arroyo had breast implants.

* * * *

About four months ago, at a dinner gathering, this guy with a connection to the press announced that Gloria Arroyo had a boob job. It took a huge amount of control not to throw out the food I was eating due to fits of laughter.

An Inquirer writer was with us and everyone prodded him to write about it as it was a scoop. But alas, he was beaten to the punch...

... by Manila Bulletin of all dailies:

via Stella Arnaldo


Yes, Manila Bulletin, whose banner headlines are usually as mundane as "Today is Rizal Day."

Initially, it looked like Bulletin's website was hacked: the story wasn't tight as tidbits on the boob augmentation was scattered in different paragraphs. (And wouldn't the boob job be your headline?) But eventually, another story on the matter surfaced in the Internet, this time from The Philippine Star's website. In Jarius Bondoc's column, Gotcha!:

"Wednesday dawn Arroyo checked in again — for less serious causes. She needed mammoplastic repair of leaking breast implants done in the ’80s. Occasion too to have doctors take out an inguinal cyst (in the groin), and laser off extra hair growth in that area and the armpits. Though a bit groggy, Arroyo was set to check out yesterday afternoon."


I'm not judging: there's nothing wrong with having breast implants or removing unwanted hair. However, let's just say the opposition and critics of the administration is bound to have a field day.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Exception

Makati Representative Teodoro Locsin is easily one of the funniest solons in Congress.

His quotable quotes on the looming failure of automated elections:

"... anyone with half a brain would know they (Smartmatic) did their best and suddenly this guy (TIM president Jose Mari Antunez) becomes unreasonable.”


and

“You can’t link TIM’s withdrawal to the administration because the administration has backed up automation 100 percent. In fact, the opposition in the House and the Senate have opposed automation and in a way they got what they wished for.

“Maybe he just wanted to extract money but we as lawyers don’t want to think like that so we have to ascribe the influence of the opposition to automation.”


From Gil Cabacungan Jr.'s report, Solon: P500-M demand did it

* * * *

In other news, I don't get the point of the photos that accompany Inquirer website's banner story, Inquirer Politics launched on INQUIRER.net.



Uh... why the mugshots?

The article also does not have any link to the newly launched section, which is over here.


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