Sunday, January 29, 2012

Picnic Brunch

Some friends and I decided to do things differently and I had the idea of doing a picnic brunch. Although as Pinoys, we love food and gatherings, I think picnics are not something that is socially ingrained in our culture (survey: how many us actually own a picnic basket?) and I think that is largely due to the lack of open, green space in urban centers. (Or perhaps the weather since it can get scorching hot in these parts.)


My office is right smack in the heart of the Makati central business district, and I consider myself seriously blessed for having the opportunity to peek out my window and see trees and grass amid the concrete jungle:




Since the Ayala Triangle Gardens park opened, the space has seen a handful of joggers, dog walkers, and both casual and romantic strollers. Still, I haven't seen anyone having a picnic, and the park has been open for like, what two years?


So on Saturday, we met up at the 'ungodly' hour of 8 am (actually, I was late, teehee), so we could, first, check out the Salcedo Community Market (which I haven't been to despite my proximity to Jaime Velasquez Park); and second, have brunch at Triangle Gardens. 


The Salcedo Market deserves another post altogether (and I was too shy to take out my camera and shoot) but what I can say is that I loved it. We saw quite a number of personalities, such as a travel TV host, a fashion magazine's editor-in-chief, the other half of local TV's famous twin celebrities (Grabe, he's a giant! I mean, he's lost weight na nga but super tall; I felt like a midget), and this cute writer-turned-chef (I think), who's a hotter and younger version of Rupert Everett. There were also the moms and dads, the expats, the young professionals, who look like they came straight from their graveyard shift, and the becks like us! It was a good crowd. 


There were grilled food, organic and vegetarian fare, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, sauces and spices, pastries and local desserts, taho, 'dirty' ice cream, handwoven products, even potted plants and flowers. There weren't many stalls (you can easily go through the entire market in 15 minutes) but there were a good mix and variety in the type of products. Also, I can't tell how much expensive the items were compared to grocery stores or dry and wet markets because I don't cook, hehe.


In the end, we bought the following:


Pork barbecue

Thai brown rice with green mango strips

Spicy sisig, or chopped parts of pig's head. I finished this all by myself and I think I had high blood by the time I got home :-P


Thai vegetarian salad. I think those are cucumber strips.

Laing, or gabi leaves cooked in coconut milk

Garlic parmesan and pesto dips

Grilled tuna belly

Pomelo


Our spread:



Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in Triangle Gardens, so yeah, beer or wine would have been perfect.

Our food amounted to about P1,500 (about US$35) including drinks for five, but we definitely overestimated our appetite as we had a lot of leftovers (which four of us had for dinner). So I think we can further bring down our cost to about P1,200 (about US$28) in case we do this again.

We were also blessed to have had cloudy weather so we were able to stay from 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. Between those hours, we were the only ones having a picnic, although there was another couple a few yards away from us, and they were the only ones... waltzing (for real).


I had the RelaxMD app on my iPad, so we listened/chatted to ocean waves, birds and wind chime sounds. :-) That pouch is a gift from Tatin; isn't it cute? I was also able to bring my Fisheye out of the house after a very long time.

One of the buildings that surround the park, Shangri-La Makati

The trees shield me from work, literally, as that's one of my office buildings right there, lol.

It was nice to be able to lie down and see this, but guess what? The park's security guard asked me to sit up because lying down is not allowed. IN A PARK.
I have to do this --> :-) because otherwise, I'd hyperventilate in anger. :-)

Part of the Philippine Stock Exchange complex, Ayala Tower One. I think that's one of our more handsome buildings.

There's public art, too. Permanent fixtures, I think, are those by Philippine National Artist Arturo Luz. This particular piece, Anito (god idol), is from his tribal series.

Happy bunch :-)

I hope we get more accessible spaces like this in the metro.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Coriolanus

Rating: 8/10 

Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler and a movie title with the word, 'anus': I mean, how can you go wrong, right? Hence, I strongly suggested among friends that we go and see this film. (Our other choices were Sherlock Holmes and Underworld.) Based on the movie's synopsis in Wikipedia, I figured it will be something like 300. (Again, Gerard Butler.)

Boy, what a miscalculation it was: not only was it nowhere near 300, but the entire dialogue was in 'Shakespearean.' Five minutes into the film, I turned to my friend and offered a veiled apology by pointing out that obvious fact. (They're smart and witty people; it was just that I know it wasn't their thing... as it wasn't mine. If I saw the movie trailer, I would have definitely skipped this. Graciously, my friends went easy on me and didn't demand their money back.)

The first 30 minutes was a bit disorienting: I knew the dialogue was in English but it might as well have been in French because I couldn't understand a thing. Thankfully and by some miracle, I eventually got the hang of it, despite the efforts of the simpleminded couple behind us who, in their boredom, decided to provide a running commentary of what was onscreen:

"Uy, naghahasa sya ng kutsilyo." "Ay, nagpapakalbo sya." "Ang daming dugo."

Digression: Why are there people like that? I mean, how can we expect to solve the world's greatest problems when there are people who cannot be considerate/proper in the simplest terms?

The movie is set in modern times, although, I assume since I haven't read the play, that the dialogue, names and places are as Shakespeare originally wrote it. I can imagine the English majors having a field day on this one, thinking how the play is adapted to accomodate reality TV, BBC, the Macbook Pro, and even the social media phenomenon, trolls. The film does so wittily, and so it was easier to see the parallelism (or now that I think about it, the lack thereof) between Coriolanus and the modern-day politician.

Coriolanus is a war hero who is nominated for consulship. To be appointed, he must be accepted by the commoners, and to do this, he must pander to their emotions, e.g., show off his battle wounds, make big speeches, etc. His pride, however, prevents him from doing so, and therefore he must accept the consequence of being unpopular to the masses. 

Those scenes in the movie reminded me of the recent debacle in the media, when President Ninoy Aquino wasn't visible in the aftermath of typhoon Sendong. There were comparisons to his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, who in similar cases in the past, would immediately be on the scene of tragedy, extending her condolences, personally spearheading relief efforts, etc. 

(Interestingly, the sitting President is still enjoying immense popularity based on survey ratings; makes for an interesting discussion.) The film makes a strong case for the two sides, and thinking about current events added color to my viewing experience.




PS: Note how the dialogue was edited in the trailer to make it sound present-day conversational; I noticed the same in the trailer for Midsummer Night's Dream. Also, I now find it hard to watch Ralph Fiennes without thinking of Voldemort. Vanessa Redgrave is absolutely divine––one of the best performances I've seen in a while.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Chill Sunday

 

Yep, it was a relaxing Sunday, save for the tense moments during Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, lol. Enjoyed the movie muchly, and I adored the fact that the lead actor didn't have to be pointlessly involved in a romantic angle.

My favorite from the movie franchise though would still be the first one in the series, which was directed by Brian de Palma, although Ghost is a close second... or third, since I also loved the second installment, the one with Thandie Newton.

I can't remember the third one––even with Wikipedia––so it must've been bad? 

 



Thursday, January 12, 2012

World Vision


My first snail mail for the year happened to be one of the best Christmas cards I've ever received. 

In 2011, I decided to sponsor a kid through World Vision. (Yes, that's me––the agnostic bordering on the atheist––donating to a Christian organization. According to the website, it's non-denominational and it does not discriminate a child whatever his or her beliefs may be. I surely hope so.) You can choose whether to sponsor a boy or a girl, or let WV pick one for you, as was in my case. I ended up with a boy with a very unique first name and whose favorite subject in school is Math. Those made for very interesting subjects in our first letter swap. And yep, we write handwritten notes! (This does bring me back to the days of 'pen pals' though I never actually had a pen pal that I wasn't friends with in real life to begin with.) I also think those conversations with him have allowed me to see the bigger picture and become more positive and calm. 

You too can help a kid for as little as P600 a month. That's P150 a week, or roughly the price a venti-sized frappe. Such a small amount to help a little brother in need. 

Visit the World Vision child sponsorship page here. 


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Online malady


Books lineup: Cain (currently testing my patience), The Emperor of Maladies (read the first few pages and I can't wait to get started on this), and Mockingjay (which I probably won't read but would catch on film instead.)

* * * *

I'm home by about 6:30pm. I finish dinner at about 8:30pm, go up to my room and catch on my online reads. Lately, I resolved to get off the Internet by 10pm and give myself an hour to read my book, then sleep by 11pm. Until I realized one hour may be enough for a short novel like Cain, but probably wouldn't be sufficient for the heavier (both literally and figuratively) The Emperor. And then I thought about last Saturday, 80 percent of which I spent LYING DOWN and doing online stuff, and what bothers me is that I was just as voracious online the next day, although thankfully, I was able to force myself out of the house by afternoon.

So yep, I think I'm online way too much; I need to cut my Internet hours but I don't think I'm brave enough to include it in my resolution just yet. 

What do you do for fun offline?


Friday, January 06, 2012

Photography that's more fun


Fisheye 2
You and I need to be acquainted again. 

* * * *
Lomography allowed me to meet new friends––well technically, a lomography party, not the photography act itself, lol. Nevertheless, it allowed me to dabble in the art for a short period of time since I felt that my first film roll pretty much delivered what I believe are spectacular results, lol. (By the way, none of these were photoshopped and they were purely shot in film :-D)







And then my succeeding rolls began looking like crap, lol. I suppose it was a fluke.

Well, I'll eventually find out as my NY resolution includes taking this up again. :-D


It's more fun in the Philippines


I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this but I'm blogging it again.

Many years ago, I was sent to Singapore to cover the opening of a Cartoon Network amusement park. It was Christmas season and despite the crowd, the place was eerily quiet, save for the music coming from the rides and street shows. At this point, it had not dawned on us that that was very weird until another Filipino journalist and I got on the roller coaster.

It was just the two of us shouting our lungs out; the rest of the passengers behaved as if they were in a library.

On another overseas trip with a group of Singaporeans and Indonesians, we got to talk about famous celebrities in the region. While I got to drop names like Charice and Lea Salonga, which garnered enthusiastic nods, they were hardpressed for names from their respective countries. (Until I weakly offered, "Stephanie Sun?" thanks to a few MTV Asia Music Awards I've seen on TV. Oh, and Anggun.)

The Department of Tourism earlier launched the tagline for what I think would be a memorable international campaign: It's More Fun in the Philippines.

The logo, which features the Philippines islands, is a play on the banig, or handwoven palm.

It's so simple and true; I can't believe we've missed using the slogan after all these years. After all, whenever I strike a conversation with strangers on airplanes and they ask me about the Philippines, no matter how long my explanation, it would eventually boil down to the fact we are a fun-loving people. It sure more than makes up for all the problems that we have (but which we need to solve, of course, let me be clear on that).

On a technical point of view (I'm in internal corporate communications), it's succinct, and as DOT Secretary Mon Jimenez explained, it answers the question, "Why come to the Philippines?" As I wrote in my entry on Pilipinas Kay Ganda, I'm not really a fan of one-adjective slogans because they lack clarity.

Malaysia is ahead of the pack [in terms of tourism arrivals] with what I personally find as the most obnoxious slogan of all—Truly Asia. (What makes an Asian country truly... um, Asian? It reeks of arrogance; I'm surprised Filipinos, who rile over the slightest of things, haven't filed a complaint at The Hague: "Sinong tinatawag nilang pekeng Asian?!" ["Who are they calling fake Asians?"])

Although in that post, I did raise the point that it takes more than a slogan to raise our tourism profile. However, the new tagline seems to circuit around infrastructure problems and other third-world issues that we have, i.e., "Stuck in traffic? It's more fun in the Philippines."

I will definitely write more entries on why it's more fun in the Philippines :-D

Read: 'It's more fun in the Philippines' - Spread the word, says DOT





Thursday, January 05, 2012

Pink

"Uy, ba't mo naman ako niregaluhan ng utong?"
LOL, it's a Tony Moly lip balm. Or a nip balm, I can never be sure, lol. (Product info is in Korean.) Still, cute packaging, and I love it that I'm still receiving Christmas gifts! :D


Girls' night out with House Husband


Good girls say the nicest things
Had an awesome night with friends today. Had dinner at Kanin Club (I should have dinner there more often) with balikbayan friend Rech [too bad we didn't get to take a photo :-( ], who's based in Singapore. (Everyone is in Singapore!)
Then I met up with birthday girl Jill and some members of the gang. We saw House Husband, which unfortunately, breaks my resolution to never see an MMFF picture this year (or do I say last year?). Fortunately, it was cute and okay enough; I've no major complaints, really. Though if you are part of a film whose shining moments are only those that include Eugene Domingo––and you are not Eugene Domingo––I think that's a cause for concern.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Career twist

That there's such a person as a balloon pilot. If that doesn't make you follow your dream, no matter how wild...


My Modern Met: 10 Most Awe-Inspiring Projects of 2011



Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Glee


Sprinkled glitters on my keyboard to make this day, my first work day after a mini-break, a bit bearable. So yeah, I'm butch like that. Also happy to have found a bottle of red on my desk (Christmas gift from a colleague) although that made me want to get home ASAP even more. 


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I began reading this book at a time when I was considering buying the iPhone 4s; I was smitten by Siri. A hundred pages later, I swore off buying the phone and Steve was a detestable human being  (oops, such strong words, I think) I didn't feel like adding to his company's coffers. 'Asshole' seemed the most appropriate word for him. He was an extremely difficult person to work with, having gone ballistic over (seemingly) trivial things, such as the color of  factory machines and the aesthetics of screws. He deemed himself above the law, both legal and natural, so he drove without a license plate and parked in handicapped spaces, and eschewed science in favor of traditional medicine in the early stages of his cancer. He was extremely abrasive, not only in berating colleagues but also in his lack of personal hygiene––in his younger days, people begged for him to take a shower... at least once a week.

As far as biographies go, this is as objective and unbiased you can get. (According to the author, Steve didn't even read an advanced copy; his only request was that he be allowed to design the book cover, which was granted.) Walter Isaacson interviewed over a hundred sources, who included relatives, colleagues and competitors. In fact, Bill Gates offered a good number of anecdotes and scathing opinions. They are written matter-of-factly and as concise as possible. I'd describe it as a long, really long, Wikipedia entry, one that's well-edited and fact-checked––and that is good––although I'm thinking, it might have read better if it was written like a long Vanity Fair profile. If there were sentences that may be construed as editorializing, I think the author was merely putting things into context.

Eventually, I understood him enough to lift my self-imposed embargo on Apple products, and I wasn't even halfway through the book when I did so. Now, I realize it's hard to have a black-or-white opinion on someone who's changed the modern world. (If cerulean, as explained in The Devil Wears Prada, had a ripple effect down to those in the lowest level of the fashion hierarchy––aka the nerds, as the movie implied––surely, Apple has had, and continues to have, a bigger effect on world, as well as day-to-day, affairs.) That complex dynamic alone makes Steve's biography a satisfying and thought-provoking read.   


Monday, January 02, 2012

Espresso



Starbucks 6750
Playing Air Hockey with Mon, reading the news (UST-Corona issue) and magazines, viewing the London 2012 New Year's Eve fireworks for the nth time, and being artsy thanks to a highly saturated photo. 
We were both on leave from work today. I bought my belated Christmas gift for my nephew. My first work day of the year starts tomorrow.


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