Friday, August 28, 2009

First magazine writing stint

Let me toot my proverbial horn and post this article that appeared in the April 2009 issue of Silkwinds. It's the in-flight magazine of SilkAir, a regional carrier based in Singapore.

This marks my first byline in a magazine, and for an international publication at that.

This profile on Manny Pacquiao was written before his fight with Ricky Hatton. Also, it's geared toward non-Filipinos who haven't heard about his greatness.

Pacquiao Silkwinds May 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ayala Malls eco tote bags

Ayala Malls have launched eco-friendly tote bags designed by some of the country's top designers.

From left: Michi Calica, Jun Escario, Randy Ortiz, Vic Barba, Louis Claparols and Patrice Ramos-Diaz

Available at Ayala Concierges, retail price is P400 with P100 going to the World Wildlife Fund (I'm just thankful it's not PETA. I will never support or donate to PETA.), and the rest of the proceeds going to the designers' charities of choice.

From the photo, Barba's and Claparols's look winners but when I dropped by the Concierge, I ended up only liking Barba's. The Claparols bag, I think, is still more of a ladies tote.

I love the dark denim color and how roomy and large it is.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

10th month

These flowers brought a smile to my face. They are now placed beside my computer.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My final thoughts on Miss Universe 2009

    1) The finals was so boring that paper dolls would have excited me more because you can tear away their head.
    2) No Asian made it to the Top 15. I don't get it.
    3). A third of the finalists were from Europe who all looked like they were flown in from another decade with their drab complexions and big, flyaway hair that seemed to have never experienced hair conditioning. The 70s called: it wanted them back.
    4) Surprisingly, since all European countries practically made it, those who actually looked divine didn't place (with the exception of Kosovo): Russia, Spain and Montenegro.
    5) I was so bored I didn't root for anyone... until Audrey Hepburn emerged in Miss Kosovo. I badly wanted her to win because I couldn't figure how the outgoing Miss Universe will place the crown on her giant bun.
    6) Andre Leon Talley poised the perfect question -- how can women hurdle obstacles in the corporate environment -- to bring up the subject that is Anna Wintour. Sadly, Venezuela didn't as she felt that there are no such obstacles anymore. Pwede na.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Miss Universe bets (revised, with photos)

I made this list thinking of candidates that bring something new to the table -- not one of them girls churned out by a beauty school factory or something. While I wasn't taken by girls who looked like each of their movements and smiles were scripted, I do admit they may have upped their chances as well and considered them for this list. Also, I haven't seen too many photos of the delegates before the preliminaries, which I think helps in making my judgments fairer since I based them on their performance during the night itself.

    Brazil -- elegant and natural
    Colombia -- loved the drama in her EG segment
    Dominican Republic -- I find her trying too hard. Not exactly a personal favorite of mine but obviously a shoo-in because of her training.
    France -- still rough around the edges but decent performance nevertheless; her genes make her a standout

    Great Britain -- she reminds me of Harry Potter's Luna Lovegood and may not actually place. But I love her still.
    Guam -- I love her too but not so sure how she appeared onstage in person; she seems to lack the height for a stronger stage presence.
    Honduras -- a surprise for me but I thought she performed extremely well.
    Kosovo -- looked like Audrey Hepburn in her evening gown and upswept hairdo.

    Montenegro -- one of the few sophisticated contestants; risky move with the evening gown but I think it made her stand out from the lack of variety in this year's EGs and it paid off
    Peru -- I feel like she and I are going to be BFFs, lol
    Russia -- loved how she was very elegant as if she was above it all and didn't appear to be trying too hard
    South Africa -- much like my assessment of France
    Spain -- divine face!

Overall, my faves would be Peru, Kosovo, Russia and Brazil. The following girls are those who I think played it safe due to their already beautiful genes (or surgery) and those who performed extremely well but had undesirable evening gowns. Dominican Republic, France and Guam could be replaced by the following:

    Australia -- a huge favorite among pageant aficionados but overrated in my opinion. Blessed with good genes.
    China -- I love her but she appeared too thin during the SS competition and this might jeopardize her chances.
    Indonesia -- performed absolutely well but I hated her tacky evening gown, just like...
    Philippines -- With so many other beautiful girls AND gowns, she'd need to ace her interview to make it to the semifinals.
    Puerto Rico -- so-so
    Venezuela -- though gorgeous in her evening gown, I found that she looked dated.
    USA -- I don't get the raves she's getting, like Australia. But since she's USA...

Japan, my sentimental favorite aside from Philippines, had a miserable-looking walk in her evening gown, unfortunately. She probably aced her interview if she makes it to the semifinals. Netherlands looked great in her photos but didn't look right during pageant night.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Miss Philippines at the preliminary show

The Miss Universe pageant's preliminary show was held earlier in Bahamas. The preliminaries is where a first set of judges will select the Top 15, who will compete for the finals night (to be judged by a different, second set).

Miss Philippines, who was fleshy and looked like she never lifted weights in her entire life when she was crowned in the local pageant, debuted her slamming, toned body in the swimsuit competition and rocked it. Unfortunately, she wore the horrendous blue dress for the evening gown competition. Let's hope the judges ignored the huge ribbon and the weird zebra-like prints.

Here's her video:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Oh! George

No, my Cebu posts are not yet done :-P

Here's another product of my research for the trip, Oh! George:

Found this coffee and dessert shop tucked in a corner at the ground floor of Ayala Center near Paseo Ciudad.

Interior was very chic, though I found the shop itself hot. We seated outside.

The mango tiramisu and dark chocolate cake were perfect.

The coffee mug was huge and warm.

The prices were reasonable too.

I would definitely swing by this place once I find myself in Cebu again.Trรจs bien!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Miss Universe National Costumes: China and Peru bring it on (3rd update)

UPDATED: August 14

Panama wins Best in National Costume:

2nd place goes to Nicaragua

and 3rd place to Ecuador

I'm disappointed that China was complete shut out; judges obviously don't appreciate understated elegance.

* * * *

Move over, Japan! The fiercest National Costumes belong to Misses China and Peru:

Another fasyon-winning moment for China.

Peru's front and back views of her costume, "La Diablada," which is based on a character from local folklore.

Here are the other candidates whose costumes stood out at the presentation show:

Indonesia. I am now rooting for this girl as well.

Costa Rica in a Pollera

France champions the vaudeville!

Venezuela. I don't know what this is, but that face is pure glamor.

Singapore as a lovely orchid

USA in a NASCAR costume

Panama, also in a devil-inspired costume, titled "Diablo de Portobelo."

Japan, with a covered-up version of her original costume, which angered the Japanese public.

Seriously, I am just thankful that Pamela looks gorgeous despite the sacrilegious terno.

Maliit na butas, lumalaki

PCIJ is running a three-part series of reports on how the Arroyo family could have possibly amassed its wealth -- more than the combined, declared wealth of Aquino, Ramos and Estrada during their respective administrations -- during Gloria's presidency.

From the First Report:

The late President Corazon C. Aquino’s declared net worth grew by only 4.8 percent from 1989 to 1992. By comparison, Fidel V. Ramos’s rose by 34.2 percent from 1992 to 1998, and Joseph ‘Erap’ Ejercito Estrada’s, by 7.2 percent from 1998 to 1999.

In her eight years in office, Arroyo’s declared net worth more than doubled (pegged only on the book or acquisition value of her assets), from P66.8 million in 2001 to P143.54 million in 2008. The increase of P76.74 million represents a growth rate of 114 percent.

Of course, Malacanang was immediately on defense mode, as the guilty are wont to do:

Remonde (the President's insipid spokesperson --J) said the sudden increase in Mrs. Arroyo’s wealth was mainly due to the investments that she and husband Jose Miguel Arroyo made in the real estate business.

Isa sa nagpalaki…ang real estate property. Alam natin in the last 10 years or so malaki talaga ang pag-akyat ng value ng property sa ating bansa..." said Remonde.

(One reason for that is real estate property. In the last 10 years or so, real estate prices have soared.)

The sale of that property was then used to buy stocks, which then helped increase their wealth, according to Ruy Rondain, the Arroyo couple’s counsel. The property was sold in 2007, a year before the global economic meltdown of 2008, when stockholders would literally commit suicide due to losses in the stock market. FYI lang.

In any case, that was yesterday morning. By nighttime, PCIJ released its Second Report, which coincidentally, discusses the alleged property. Here are its highlights:

    - Arroyos bought a 2.9-hectare agricultural lot in San Rafael Bulacan for P100,000 in 1996
    - Then Senator Arroyo already listed the property in her 1995 SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth) for P1.2 million. PCIJ has no explanation for this.
    - From 1997 to 2007, when the Arroyos sold the property to a certain Richard Lim, her SALNs pegged the San Rafael property at P4.7 million, or P159 per square meter. Given its acquisition cost of P3.37 per square meter or P100,000, the value of land had thus appreciated by over 4,600 percent.
    - Teresa Perez, municipal assessor of San Rafael for the last two decades, thinks the Lim's purchase price was at least six times what she would have thought fair:

      - Jose Arroyo sold the lot at P1,400 per square meter, or for a total of P41,482,000. This is 400 times than the P100,000 the Arroyos paid for back in 1996, and also eight times higher than its latest recorded fair market value.
      - Current prices of agricultural lots in San Rafael, according to Perez, range from P100 to P250 per square meter, with properties located near the highway fetching top price. The San Rafael property is located at the foothills of the Sierra Madre, but assuming it was able to command a price of P250 per square meter, its total value would be P7,407,500.

And here's the icing on the cake: The Government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways, spent P44.8 million in road projects from 2004 to 2007. These roads all lead to the Arroyo property.

Care to explain that, Remonde? :-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Her head on a Le Cirque platter

I haven't blogged about politics -- and have been covering Cebu and the Miss Universe pageant, instead -- because I refuse to acquire circulatory and heart ailments all because of that unano, Gloria Arroyo.

It's painful that our country is at the hands of a corrupt and immoral First Family. Sometimes, I wonder if Fernando Poe Jr. -- and if he died while in office, Noli de Castro -- would have made a better President.

I really hope that whoever is elected president in 2010 makes sure that justice is served: Arroyo must pay; she and her family must be brought to court.

Here are the latest scandals to have surfaced only in the last three days. Many others have been buried in the deep recesses of Congress (e.g., ZTE scandal, Hello Garci scandal, Fertilizer Fund scandal), courtesy of impeachment files that never saw the light of day.

Even until today, I am incensed at the fact that she granted the release of Claudio Teehankee, Jr., who shot Maureen Hultman in cold murder. And then several months after his release, she had the gall to announce that she won't pardon the Abu Sayyaf because “such leniency should be extended only to those accused of political offenses, not common criminals especially as brutal as the Abu Sayyaf.”* So the murder of Hultman was not brutal enough? I am so mad at this; I can't imagine how the Hultman family must be feeling like.

Perhaps, the Abu Sayyaf should kill Luli Arroyo -- its members probably have better chances of getting pardoned that way.

In China, the government has executed a top Beijing executive for corruption. We may never see Arroyo executed, much to my dismay, but to history and for the Filipino people, she may as well be dead. She may have increased her net worth by 114 percent, or equivalent to P144 million, since she became President, but she will never ever be honored by this country, both in life and at her death.

*I don't believe the terrorist group should be pardoned either. My point is the law should apply to both the rich and poor; to both Teehankee and the Abu Sayyaf.

Her fighting chance

Each year, each delegates at Miss Universe are photographed wearing a gown to be posted on its website. Usually, this doesn't necessarily mean that they'd wear the actual gown to the competition, but that's what happened to Miss Philippines last year:

Here's hoping Bianca Manalo doesn't compete in the gown she wore for her online portfolio:

Buti na lang kagandahan ang ate nyo.

It's... tacky. From the National Costume to her arrival outfit to this, it seems our candidate is in dire need of an editor -- there's just too many details, beads and colors all over her dress.

It's a good thing her Asian counterparts aren't doing so well in the editing department either, with the exception of India, who looked smashing in this photo:

from left: Malaysia, Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and China.

But no matter how awful some of her sartorial choices have been, I actually feel strongly about the Philippines's chances this year. The last time I felt the same for our delegate was in 2000, when Nina Ricci Alagao represented the country:

I think it has to do with her sincerity, particularly after seeing how she sprinted toward the Filipinos who welcomed her arrival. Also, in her online Q&A, she may not have the most pleasant-sounding kolehiyala accent, but her answers seemed sweet and genuine enough (with the exception of that "God is holding my hand" quip.)

I think it would be her child-like ambivalence -- as opposed to the aggressive, strong to the point of desperate, campaign of your typical pageant contestants -- that would help get her a finalist slot.

Besides, if called upon, she seems to know how to strike a pose that is so fierce, drag queens would surely applaud:

(from left: Brazil, Angola, Philippines and Bolivia)

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