Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Funny Siberian Husky playing in leaves


Was having a shitty morning until this Siberian Husky showed me how awesome  piles of leaves are.






Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shoes for the rainy season



Say what you will of Crocs (or Native Shoes, in this case) but they are awesome for the rainy season! Once you arrive at your destination, just pat them—and your feet—dry and you're good. :-)




Monday, September 23, 2013

Horror and LOLs


I invited Jill and Pam to watch Insidious: Chapter 2. I was pretty impressed with the producers of the film. It hasn't been what, 6 months, and yet, they already have a sequel? Awesome.

Me: "Ang galing no? May sequel na agad."
Pam: "...."
Me: "Although ba't si Rose Byrne na yung nasa cast. Di ba yung last time si Vera something?"
Pam: "Si Rose naman talaga original ah?"
Me: "Nooooo! Replacement na lang yata sya. Si Vera yung original."
Pam: "Huh? Si Rose yung dati."
Me: "No, si Vera..."
Pam: "Si Rose!"

Repeat 10 times.

Oh.

You mean Insidious is not the sequel to The Conjuring? Patrick Wilson, this is all your fault.

And the clincher: I didn't see the first Insidious.

Still, I liked the film and I like Patrick Wilson.



* * * * *

Pam: Five stars yung rating mo for We're the Millers, pero yung This is the End, 3 stars?!"

Me: Nakatulog kaya ako sa TITE. (Well no, I didn't actually say this. Katamad lang mag-type.)

Pam: That is your fault, not the producers'. (Yes, umi-English.)

Me: Ang funny kaya nung The Millers. I don't think I've found anything that crass funny ever. (Umi-English din.)

Pam: Oo nga, ang funny!

Jill: Yung balls, lol! *actual lol-ing*

Me: True, tapos yung striptease scene, lololol!

Pam: Lolol!

Tatin, Giff: Lolololol!


* * * *

Ratings:

This is the End - 7/10
Insidious: Chapter 2 - 8/10
We're the Millers - 9/10



Friday, September 20, 2013

Francis


I tried my best not to like the new Pope. After all, I told myself, what could possible change? The leadership may vary but the Catholic Church's dogma will remain.

And then, his first move: He named himself Francis, a name I've always had an affinity for, after the saint of Assisi. Francis is what would have been my name, if only a neighbor didn't beat my parents to it. I was born on his feast day and have always joked that I was born on World Animal Day.

And then, his second move: His interview on the plane after World Youth Day. ("If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.") While I was touched by his words, I still kept it to myself because I knew that among the Church's vanguards, the Pope is more an exception than the rule. And true enough, days later, a US Archbishop was already foaming at the mouth. ("Pope was 'on a high' during gay remarks.")

And then, his latest: "When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person."

I hope the ripples turn into waves.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dancing in September: UP Pep Squad's 2013 Party theme *updated*

Warning: updated with over 20MB of GIFs (taken from YouTube user Koneg).


* * * *

Photo: Marlon Nombrado and Luis Adrian Hidalgo for TinigngPlaridel

Despite the UP Pep Squad's major mistakes (I counted four, with one minor error in the dismount), they still clinched 2nd place ahead the cleaner performance of DLSU. After all, despite the failed attempts by some members, the rest of the squad were able to execute the demanding stunts which you'd normally see in world cheerleading championships. I have to give it to UP for being the first to have done some of them locally.

Even before the event, UP announced that this was going to be a fun routine, hugely different from their 2012 Freedom piece, which was serious and almost prophetical. Nevertheless, and as always, UP mixed up gender stereotypes by highlighting the girls' strength (last seen in 2009 through Anna Cruz's partner stunt), while the boys took the front row in the dance segments. In this routine, UP also proves that they are undoubtedly the best in terms of choreography and dance. (This year, influenced by Latin and hiphop.) I don't think I've seen the squad execute their dance this synchronized and clean in recent years: their lines and formations were near perfection.

Photo: Marlon Nombrado and Luis Adrian Hidalgo for TinigngPlaridel

Also, for the sixth straight year, I loved the styling of the group. Their hairstyle this time was inspired by Rihanna's curly mohawk, with the girls wearing a mesh top. Disco balls served as pompoms.

Now on to the routine. Here were my favorite parts:




Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Wang wang

One of the challenges I faced was transporting my father from San Pedro, Laguna to a hospital in Manila via an ambulance. The clinic in San Pedro, where I brought my father in haste, has one but it was in Batangas and no one knew when it would be back. To save on costs, it's best to use your baranggay's ambulance; you'll most likely be asked to only pay for gas... and then some.
 
The problem was our baranggay's ambulance left in the morning (with patients in tow) and still wasn't back by the time we required it at about 7pm.
 
What my friends did was try to find a private ambulance for me. There's one by Lifeline Rescue; however, if you're not a member, the 'flag-down' rate is P4,000, plus an exorbitant charge for every meter. (I cannot remember the price.) We estimated that given the distance between the clinic and a decent hospital, we stood to pay P10,000––in cash, at that; Lifeline said we couldn't pay by EPS or credit card. Also, P10k is a few days' worth of hospital stay, so I couldn't stomach the idea of paying the same amount for transportation.
 
So we had no choice but to wait because the clinic we were at––as well as our baranggay––wouldn't do anything else but stare at us. (We couldn't use private transportation either; my father required an oxygen tank and the clinic wouldn't let us loan or sell theirs.) In fact, we waited for about four hours until finally, a good samaritan, not affiliated with the clinic or our baranggay, managed to find an ambulance for us from an adjacent baranggay.
 
So basically, if we were in a highly urgent, where-time-is-of-the-essence situation, my father would have long seen the tunnel of light. Unfortunately, I can't say it hasn't happened to other people.
 
As a solution, you may become a member of Lifeline Rescue, though you may want to get more details about the coverage. So far, I haven't seen any online reviews of their service. Also, get the number of the baranggays in your area, aside from your own.
 
 
* * * *
 
Whenever I see an ambulance or hear its siren, I always say a prayer for its occupants. I never thought I'd actually be in one myself. It was even more surreal to find myself in the front seat as we traversed SLEX and see people either crane their necks at us or not care. I could also imagine what must have been going through their heads: "Gusto lang makaiwas sa traffic ng mga yan!" In fact, there were quite a number of cars who ignored us and never gave way; until now, I can't believe there are people like that.
 
I now get goosebumps whenever I hear an ambulance.
 


Monday, September 02, 2013

30, part 2

 
My life has changed. I am no longer the same person. It's been years since I thought of myself as an adult––but boy, was I wrong.
 
More than two weeks ago, I experienced seeing my father almost die on my watch––twice––within a 24-hour period.
 
Before that, a month ago, our family pet died. A few weeks later, it was my grandfather who passed away. They say they come in threes––I just never thought it possible that it could be this tragic. No, no, no, I thought to myself. This is not happening.
 
Thankfully, my father survived. He was diagnosed with COPD, a progressive disease that eventually wears out the sufferer's lungs. You get COPD mainly from smoking. My father quit smoking in the 80's.
 
For those of you who smoke, I sure hope you quit early enough. I can personally attest to how difficult it is for the patient and also for his/her family and loved ones.
 
In my father's case, his right lung collapsed (pneumothorax). Doctors had to insert a chest tube to let excess air out. While his lung has fully re-expanded, there is still excess air in it, so that's what we're now waiting for to normalize.
 
I never heard of COPD until the diagnosis. I would have probably remained oblivious to what it meant post-diagnosis if not for Wikipedia. While I'm thankful for the Internet, it can drive you paranoid though, especially with the info overload you get out there. In this case, stuff I read about COPD.
 
I've been trying to look for local COPD support groups, and searching for 'COPD Philippines.' What I've learned is that COPD is the cause of Dolphy's death. (Well, that and that there's a support group at the Lung Center, but it's too far for us to make regular trips to.) I remember how difficult it was for the Quizon family, including financially. I particularly remember Zsa Zsa thanking people for having provided financial assistance.
 
The Quizon family is very rich. God, help us.
 
In fact, my friends did seek financial support on my behalf during my father's hospitalization. Friends, and even acquaintances––people who come to think, had zero obligation to care about us––helped. It was a source of many tears––tears of joy––for me and my family.
 
The prayers and messages of support comforted us, too; basically, knowing that you are not alone and that people have you in their thoughts. Words can never express how thankful we are for them.
 
(Speaking of giving comfort, do visit people you know who are in the hospital. In my case, seeing friends gave me a much-needed break from my mundane day. I stayed in the hospital for 13 days straight, 10 of which I spent without going home. It almost drove me crazy, and looking back now, I have ZERO idea how I survived it without TV and with a spotty 3G connection. My schedule was as follows:
 
6am - wake up
7am - feed Pa breakfast
7:30am - eat breakfast
10am - shower
11:30am - feed Pa lunch
12nn - eat lunch: choose among hospital canteen, 7-11, or Chowking
1pm - exercise by going down and up seven flights of stairs
1:15pm - go to chapel
3-4pm - merienda
5pm - hang out outside ward
6pm - feed Pa dinner
7pm - eat dinner
8pm - sleep
 
 
Though, come to think of it, this was all I could really manage to do. I was so stressed and depressed, I couldn't think of anything else. I couldn't read my book, or even check out websites and my social media accounts. Twitter was particularly challenging to go through, especially when I read tweets saying life is so hard because Ben Affleck is the new Batman. I'm not hating, given I'm guilty of tweeting about such things as well :-p I find my newfound perspective amusing, to say the least.)
 
I know that we are still blessed and lucky, no matter the difficulty of what we went through and are about to go through. I know that we are not the only people suffering in the world, even if it felt like that at times. In the hospital alone, we met a number of families who had it harder than us. I sincerely wish they find a support system who may help them get through their journey, just like we did.
 
 
 
Kindness go a long way. Be kind to others.
 
 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

30 (updated)


Thank you for the messages, prayers, and words of encouragement. :-)

Lolo peacefully passed away at 6:05 p.m. today. He has lived a full and good life at 94.


Original post, 8/7/13 10:47 PM

I haven't written much. Emotionally, it's been a tough year: my lolo is dying of cancer, and even if we're not close and even if I know he's my only remaining living grandparent, I'm finding it hard to process my feelings about it. There are periods when I'm plunged in depression––seeing my lolo, seeing my mother go through it all––but then most of the time, I make myself numb.

His state deteriorated rapidly. At 94, he didn't require glasses and he rode a bicycle to farm his land, two facts that were always a source of pride for the family. Then cancer made itself known, and now his sight has been reduced to light and shadows. His body is almost lifeless, except for the labored breathing and the occasional tremors of muscle spasm. His medication includes morphine and he fears the moving shadows that creep above his bed at nighttime.

Two weeks ago, our dog died. I last saw him more 20 weeks ago when I forgot the keys to my apartment and I had to go all the way to the family home to get a spare. We have a photo of our last night together: my head turned away from the camera; Chokichi staring directly at it, smiling as Samoyeds are wont to do. He was five.


The Conjuring is why I slept at 4 a.m.








Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Hai Chix & Steaks


Last night, we had an impromptu dinner at Hai Chix & Steaks*, an unfortunately spelled yet stylish-in-a-hipster-way restaurant in Home Depot, Ortigas.

Porterhouse steak

The rain was hammering Manila at this point, so naturally, we found ourselves alone in the resto.

Two waiters were standing idly after having set our table. We asked for the menu; there was none—you have to go to the counter, about 10 steps away from our table, to read the menu from the chalkboard, parts of which were blocked from our view—so instead, we accessed Looloo from our devices.

Buffalo wings

Then we told them we were ready to order: the waiter standing by the counter, again about 10 steps away, said we had to go to her to place our order. When we sort of protested about the pointlessness of going back and forth and paying for every order, the other waiter said they can arrange for an "open bill," meaning, as with normal sit-down restaurants, you pay at the end of your meal.

Given this "open bill" scenario, there were a number of choices:

    a) Since we were the only customers, idle attendants could have just approached us instead and place our orders for us. 
    b) We could have just announced our orders out loud—it was that near anyway and there were no other customers present. 
    c) Move our asses and go to the counter.

We opted for C.

Butter garlic shrimp

I understand the concept of self-service: I gladly stow my tray back to the designated area (when available), whenever I'm in Jollibee or McDonald's; I bring back the newspaper and magazines to their rack when I leave coffee shops. But I could not understand why Hai Chix and Steaks could not make the effort to walk 10 steps and place orders on our behalf; they were already standing anyway and they had nothing to do at that point. (And this restaurant is no Jollibee or McDonald's either; their steaks are north of P1,500.)

All of this is too absurd for me to even complain about but I felt I had to write about how some people are so wired to do exactly what they're told to do, they wouldn't dare break them even if it means extending courtesy to other people, being nice, or more importantly, earning more tips. Hai Chix & Steaks, as expected, has no service charge so I'm not sure how else the waiters expect to earn their remuneration.

To be fair, they did eventually get orders from our table for the rest of our orders (I guess after overhearing our grumbles), and the staff were nice throughout our other requests.

* * * *

The food, thankfully, was excellent as if the troubles we went through—the weather, the lukewarm service—were mere nuisances, an initiation rite that would eventually lead us to fraternal glory.

I took a bite of the buffallo wings: Yummeh.

The garlic butter shrimp: Jesus Christ.

The porterhouse steak, served medium well: Yesss! 

Together with the 'beef rice' and buttered corn and carrots, it was a sumptuous meal worthy of converting vegetarians back to being vicious carnivores. The oil, garlic, and fat make it all the more rich—top them off your meat, rice, bread, or even fries for a decadent experience. It was a beautiful meal.

Beef rice


_______________
*Hai for Hainanese and Chix for chicken.



Hai Chix & Steaks
Ortigas Home Depot
Dona Julia Vargas, Pasig

11:00 am - 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
+63 917 507 5773/ +63 2 661 7695 for reservations, except Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 




Thursday, August 08, 2013

Denim dilemma



My decade-old denim looks like it's been abused by a sadist cat: it has cuts and tears, and holes in places a stripper would be proud of. I've retired it to the far end of my closet when last week, I decided to wear it to work; it got raves from my friends.

And so I wore it again yesterday. While waiting for them for lunch, I sat on the chair in our lobby and I felt the cold kiss of leather somewhere near my butt. My friends arrived to see me seated with my hand squeezed under my derrière as I tried to assess the damage—needless to say, I looked weird.

I had to explain myself: "I think there's a hole at the back of my jeans."

They made me stand up and turn around. There was collective gasping: in this context, the gasping wasn't flattering—it was worrying.

The hole, it turned out, was exactly below where the mound ends. While it didn't show skinjust an inviting black hole to vertically challenged sodomistsit was unacceptable in a professional environment or any outdoor environment for that matter, aside from Makati Avenue. Or Malate.

I left my friends and went straight to Glorietta 2I only had one hour to shop and I didn't want to spend much. The first stop was Mango HE which has pants for sale, for as low as P1,000 (colors: yellow, red) and P1,500 for the safer khaki, gray, and black. They were advertised as straight cut and yet, my foot could barely fit into the leg of the jeans.

Pucha. Are skinny jeans the new straight cut?

I fit one leg and didn't even bother to wear the otherit was so temptingly soft (and so tight) that that scary word flashed in my head: JEGGINGS! Man, they look awful, but damn, they felt real good.

Next was Folded & Hung. One of my ultra favorite jeans is from F&H. I took a look at the jeans on display and most of them look like my ultra favorite jeans. Nothing much has changed.

I then moved to Penshoppe, whose window display and interiors are just way too young for me. I remember their beautiful store in Megamall with the wooden floors and bachelor pad props, but now, the lighting is garish and One Direction is playing on loop in the background. It's interesting how they're limiting their market to tweens when they're supposed to be competing with Bench, whose aesthetics and models span a wide age range.

Nevertheless, I tried their straight cut jeans, which again, made my legs feel like sausage. Props to their dressing room though: the lighting was perfect for selfies. It would also look perfect for music videos.

Bench didn't offer any wash variety: it was all black and dark blue.

I took a break for lunch and that's when I had an epiphany: Uniqlo. How could I forget? It's the pants that make my colleagues give a second look and say, "Felix Bakat." (Disclaimer: it's the front fold that's giving the illusion.)

How I wish I made it my first stop. It was a breezy fitting: they are perfect and they are NOT SKINNY! I was able to go back to the office and no longer give a peep show from the back.

Always check your behind before getting out of the house.


 


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Being Superman is hard


  • From the trailer alone, I could already sense that this was going to be a serious movie. From the voice over to the slow-motion shots, it was all so unnecessarily dramatic.
  • There's such palpable pall cast over this entire film, from the script down to the actors, that no one was allowed to make a joke, save for a police officer in the last 10 minutes of the film.
  • Everyone is so gaddamn grim and serious. Even serious journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) just had to make it known that she is a Pulitzer winner, as if the other Lois Lanes in the Superman franchise had a BA degree in lipstick, minor in miniskirts.
  • Even Superman (Henry Cavill) is not happy because he is not allowed to use his powers, because his dad told him so.
  • <sarcasm>There is so much to feel sorry for Superman; my heart goes out to him. :-( </sarcasm>
  • It was depressing. The world has Superman and all the filmmakers could focus on--pessimistically--was the weight of such a 'problem' -- how a child could possibly process, much more, bear such responsibility; how governments could trust one man having alien powers*. This is a fantasy movie--if we really are going to take everything so seriously, deal with existential problems, and take an academic approach to Superman, etc. then WHY MAKE HIM WEAR A CAPE? (Though I won't be surprised if the DVD extra does include a feature on the science behind the cape.)
  • In an attempt to humanize Superman, we get this convoluted prologue and epilogue (the movie felt that long), and everyone is explaining everything in detail, even the science behind science fiction, and so I look at my watch.
  • In a few words: This movie is trying hard to be Dark Knight/Watchmen, which is ironic since the men responsible for those movies are both involved in this one.
  • I will ascribe this to birth pains and pressure. The sequel should give them more freedom since they won't have to explain Superman's back story any longer.
  • On a positive note, the fight scenes were what it would probably look like if superheroes did fight.
  • Also, Superman is hot. And I like it how he doesn't even seem to be aware of it.
  • By the way, no need to splurge on 3D or IMAX - the 3D effects were not that heavy.
_______________
*Recent film portrayals of Spiderman and Batman also gave credence to these issues but they worked--I felt sorry for them.


Monday, June 03, 2013

A few, basic pointers for job applicants


I've been interviewing people for more than a month now. To applicants, kindly consider the following tips:

  • Apologize for being late, even if it's just for one minute. I can understand if you woke up late or got stuck in traffic or in the elevator, had a mini accident with your heels or shirt, makeup or whatever—I will understand it—but please say sorry. 
  • On that note, please don't be late. Not everyone can be as accommodating. 
  • Please stand up when the interviewer enters the room, even if you're female. I even read somewhere that you're not supposed to sit down until the interviewer arrives but I think that's too much. 
  • If you know the job entails working with different nationalities, please try to speak English even if you think you're bad at it—I don't mind, unless of course it is part of the job requirement (e.g., editorial). The nationalities you will be working with probably aren't that well-versed in English too, especially if it's not their first language. 
  • Brush your hair. Look neat and pristine. 
  • At one point in the interview, I purposely stay silent for a long, long time. I'd like to see if you'll take the moment to further assert your qualifications. 
  • If you're applying for a leadership role, you'd want to be assertive. 
  • It's a thin line between grit and arrogance. I can't help on this. 
  • For the love of Charice, please don't reply "wala lang" to any question. Ever. 
  • Also don't say "malibog" when you're asked about how you think your friends will describe you*. It makes for a memorable interview, but for the wrong reason.
  • An interview should also be a conversation. Do ask professional questions; they should help you determine the attractiveness of the job and company you're applying for/in.

These 'small' details may matter if it all else ends up equal between you and another candidate.



_______________
*Yes, this happened. He had an extremely nice build and he was  wet from the rain. He's now working with us. I kid, I kid!!!




Sunday, June 02, 2013

Film: Bill Cunningham New York


Bill Cunningham, the fashion photographer of The New York Times, is a genuinely nice person. He has good manners and is very pleasant with the people he encounters—there is no mean bone in his body. Hence, together with testimonials from his friends, the documentary is generally a cheery and feel-good film, at least until he had to confront questions about his sexuality and religion.

 
Excerpt from Bill Cunnigham New York.


Earlier in the film, when he was asked about his family, he described his parents as Catholic, a qualification which I found interesting for him to have used. (An alarm goes off in my head whenever I read or hear the word; I basically gird myself.) And although the clip above is just an excerpt of about 4 minutes on the subject, the filmmakers have decided to let Mr. Cunningham’s short answers and silence speak for themselves.





Saturday, May 25, 2013

Film: The Great Gatsby


Having just 'read' The Great Gatsby a couple of hours before the movie (it was an audio book valiantly interpreted by Jake Gyllenhaal), the story's details were still fresh in my otherwise horrible memory when the scenes played out in front of me, this time as interpreted by Baz Luhrmann. (I think that sentence is a Dan Brown in the making.)



The book's plot is a little thin to begin with—it's only about four hours long, and you can more or less, sum it up in one page, with much of the action happening at the end. I'm impressed Luhrmann was able to make a two-hour movie out of it without making it a snoozefest, although the white expat in front of me did sleep pretty much the entire film.

The director was faithful to the plot of the movie, but as to the interpretation, I wasn't sure. The film opened with captivatingly elegant scenes, especially in the introduction of Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki), with white flowing curtains fluttering in the air as if the narrator, Nick Carraway, had just arrived in heaven. (I expected much more... heft from Tom Buchanan, played by Joel Edgerton, but there were winning moments, such as in the emotionally charged scene at the garage.)

What I found jarring was when Luhrmann, with his signature Moulin Rouge style, began introducing contemporary pop culture to the material, starting with the soundtrack, then later, with abandoned kitsch. In interviews, the director said this was meant to evoke the excessively lavish lifestyle of the rich and greedy, but--I don't know if it was special effects—they all looked like caricatures than real persons. The mansion's lights were too harsh and fake, and the fountains were ridiculous—Gatsby out-Disneyland Disneyland itself.

There was a time it did work: when Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), like a forlorn schoolboy lover, was about to meet Daisy for the first time. That was kitsch made right.

However, by the end, when all the film could rely on were words that, in the book from which it was based on, conveyed the sighs and yearning of a despondent man—no parties, or fountains, or mansions, and glittering dresses—Luhrmann ended up literally writing the words from the novel onscreen.

The message, it seemed, was that the book is best left as is.


Rating: 6/10


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Coffee Prince

After many, many years, I've finally resumed watching Coffee Prince.

It does not disappoint, lol.




* * * *

It is also with deep sadness that I learned of Masaki Koh's death. If you don't know Masaki, that's probably good news.





Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cibo's Patate Pencetta





Patate Pencetta (mozarella, potatoes, slab bacon)

One of Tatin's and my order from Cibo. Two slices and we were done—not because it wasn’t good (it was!) but because it was very filling. She liked the smokey taste, while I raved over how you could practically taste the bacon on the entire dough itself. (Though the potato does seem redundant.)

Also, it’s beautiful, as were the waiters, lol.


Friday, May 17, 2013

The seven-minute workout



NYT: The Scientific Seven-Minute Workout


The first time I saw the chart and the rules—30 seconds for each exercise with a 10-second break in between—I scoffed at it. "How is this even a workout?" Nevertheless, I went ahead and tried it, even telling myself I'd increase the duration to about 45 seconds per exercise.

The first in the series—jumping jack—was fine, but on the second (wall sit), I found myself in agony after the first 10 seconds; 30 seemed like a lifetime. And with little rest in between—not enough for me to catch my breath—I collapsed by the time I got to the 10th exercise, leaving me unable to complete the last two.

I failed.

I'm not exactly a fan of cardio because I'd like to put on more weight, but I've noted that I haven't been unable to progress with my push-ups program (www.hundredpushups.com) because the advanced levels are starting to wear me out. After a week of the seven-minute workout (SMW), I've improved my push-up record for three consecutive workout days mainly because I am now able to squeeze in a few more reps:




Note the huge jump in my last three stats—that's when I started doing SMW. Prior to that, although my record was improving, I couldn't get past 100. (What I do is perform my push-up and the SMW program on alternate days.)

And I haven't even been able to complete SMW yet. Even if I'm completely rested, I'm having trouble with the last exercise, the side plank (I collapse within 5 seconds). I also cheat by slowing down on some of the exercises (According to the NYT article, "the intensity [should hover] at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10"), so I find the program very challenging—there's still so much for me to work on.

Try it! Visit Lifehacker for videos showing the proper form for each exercise. And here's a web app that time your entire routine, including the rest intervals—it's like having your own drill sergeant!




Monday, May 06, 2013

Food review: Umami Hambaagu House





This meal is P340. For the price, I don't see myself going out of my way to eat here, but if ever you're in the area, Umami's burgers do make it worth the occasional visit.

You will most likely order the hambaagu set which comes with fries (good), salad (good), edamame (good), and rice (okay). The price would depend on which burger you order: there are those with truffle, foie gras, and mushroom; I chose the Maison du Japon, which comes with melted gruyère cheese and caramelized onions.




My burger was firm and juicy (one other friend—the exception—said hers was dry). It's really what I expected it to taste like—creamy (although the cheese crusted on top), with a tiny zing from the onion—no surprises, although you may ask for Japanese mayonnaise to spice it up a bit.

Surprisingly, for what looked like a tiny serving (to me at least), it was filling. Though I wish they'd serve more of the delicious fries.

Corn soup and Hole in One Burger were not available when we were here. When we asked why, one of the waitresses seemed to have an attitude: "Eh wala po, eh." (Though she belatedly added it was because they ran out of cream.)

She also rather huffily corrected my pronunciation of "maison" (meh-zon) to "mai-son" (short 'a') but I opted to suffer in silence because I felt that 6 units of French does not give me the license to correct her.

The other waitress (now I feel bad for not having remembered their names) was more pleasant—filling our water without prodding and letting us know that we can ask for more servings of the salad. Anyway, if you meet them both, you'd be able to tell who's the sulky one.

PS
Despite being full, the restaurant was so quiet on the Sunday night we were here—it almost felt wrong to laugh among friends.

The menu is beautifully photographed (which makes it challenging to order because you want them all!) and the actual servings give them justice. The styling of the restaurant, which is kawaii, is topnotch.

_______________


Umami Hambaagu House

The Grove by Rockwell, C5
Ugong, Pasig
+63 2 695 3643




Thursday, April 04, 2013

2013 senatorial candidates' stand on same-sex marriage


Just last night, Tatin asked me who I was voting for Senators in the upcoming Philippines elections. I said I was only sure about voting for Risa Hontiveros. (If you really believe in someone who you think I should consider, kindly leave a comment.)

Her question made me look up a web version of GMA News' forum with senatorial candidates last Sunday, wherein the aspirants were asked about their stand on some of the pressing issues in the world and in the country today.

Screenshot:
www.gmanetwork.com/news/eleksyon2013/isyungbayan/samesexmarriage


On same-sex marriage, only one candidate is categorically for it: Jack Enrile. Unfortunately, I'm against voting for anyone who is the son/daughter/sister/brother/nephew/niece/first-degree cousin of any former/incumbent senator, vice president, and president because there are a million Filipinos and surely, we can put other talented, honest, hardworking, and smart people in the Senate. (We can and yet, we won't, if surveys are to be believed.)

To me, as with most concerns, this is really a black-and-white issue. You may be undecided for now—that's understandable—but what I don't understand is candidates who seem to be vacillating when asked to make a categorical stand on such issues as same-sex marriage.

Like Risa Hontiveros. In the GMA report, Risa is categorized under 'No Stand,' with the explanation, "Kailangan muna siguro natin ng isang anti-discrimination law." ("Perhaps, we need an anti-discrimination law first.")

Having known Risa's stand and views on most issues I care about, I know she means well for the LGBT community despite that answer.

In her Twitter account, she says this:



... which to me, is not a categorical statement and only confuses me. Ano ba talaga? Though I'm sure she has a logical and reasonable explanation; will try to look for it later.


Keep your religion to yourself
As for the rest of the candidates, some seem to have a hang up with the term, "marriage." To generalize and interpret their feelings about it, they think it is wrong for God to bless their marriage.

Such senators are obviously so clouded by their own religious biases that they do not consider other religious institutions' stand on the issue. For one, marriage is not exclusively Roman Catholic. Second, Christian denominations that perform legal same-sex weddings include the Episcopal Church of the United States, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America.

These are legal marriages, blessed by the God they believe in.

So when candidates like Dick Gordon say, "Tayo’y ginawa ng Diyos na [ang] pag-aasawa [ay] para magkaroon ka ng anak, procreation, para magkaroon ka ng happiness" ("We were created by God to have a child, for procreation, for you to be happy") it's really just him asserting his own religious biases, while dismissing others'.

Those who are for civil partnership but are against gay marriage due to what I believe to be their religious biases but what they say to be due to Constitutional restrictions are: Sonny Angara (implied), Bam Aquino, and Loren Legarda.

Teddy Casiño and Gringo Honasan prefer to study the issue some more or present it for public debate.

Those who seem to have homophobic undertones with their either succinct or overwrought explanations are: Binay, Estrada, Gordon, Jun Magsaysay, Pimentel, and Villanueva.

Ergo, yuck.

Some choice statements:

Estrada: "We are still a Catholic nation. If we look at the Bible, the marriage of two persons is always man and woman. It's always been Adam and Eve. Wala namang Adan at Adan. Wala ring Eba at Eba."

This is a person who recently guested in Magandang Gabi, Vice to sing and dance and promote his candidacy; ergo, you cannot allow gays to marry, but you may use them to advance your personal ambition.

Jun Magsaysay: "I don't think that's a marriage. They can just live together if they want. No need to flaunt it."

Pimentel: "I think that is a joke of a proposal."

Villanueva: "... pagdating sa marriage of same sex, sabi ng Good Book, huwag gayahin 'yung nangyari sa Sodom and Gomorrah dahil darating ang paggunaw sa isang bansa pag 'yun ay ginawa."

While these are the responses that to me, border on comedic:

Escudero: "Hindi pa napapanahon 'yan sa ating bansa. Maaring dumating ang panahon na mapayagan 'yan pero sa ngayon, hindi... sa pananaw ko lang hindi pa napapanahon at hindi pa handa ang Pilipino at kultura natin na tanggapin yun."

Maceda: "It is not the time for that."

Villar:  "Siguro hindi pa. Too advanced, too modern sa ating society."

That's a great idea! Let's not move this nation forward because we don't want to be too advanced or too modern!

Meanwhile, this is in a category of its own: stupidity.

Cojuangco: "... let them decide what they want to do. I don’t want to interfere in the lives of others."

Then why are you running for a legislative post?

By the way, I excluded from this list those who are not even a blip in our national consciousness, such as Alcantara, Belgica, David, Delos Reyes, and Montaño because thank God, they seem to be bigots too.

I may still vote for Risa, though I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. Looks like I will have a very clean ballot on Election Day, with the Ladlad party list as my only sure vote.



Source: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/eleksyon2013/isyungbayan/samesexmarriage





Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dynasty note cards from Isabel Gatuslao


I have added new note cards to my collection, thanks to the latest work of the beautiful and talented, Isabel Gatuslao!

Personally, I'm really just happy that we have a 100% Filipino-made stationery that are this stylish and well made. Because you see, for the longest time—despite globalization and a new millenniumlocally made stationery were cheap and baduy, or average at best.

This Dynasty collection is her second after Anglophilia, which I blogged about here. You may read about Isabel's design story in her website.


Embossed in gold foil, the Chinese dragon is also the Yang in Yin & Yang. The oriental cloud drawing forming a geometric tile pattern and set on a pale hue.

This photo has a sepia filter because I think it really brings out its Wong Kar-wai quality, haha. (Incidentally, I had just completed his trilogy of Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, and 2046, when I saw the latter two weeks ago.)
It's very romantic. Or imperial, if you're writing to a subordinate, lol.



Just look at those details, particularly of the scales! The printing is obviously topnotch because as you can see, there are no cracks or smudges. I also love how the back, with what to me is a pink salmon color, softens the entire look; otherwise, it could really be intimidating and may send an entirely different message!

Embossed in turquoise foil, the Chinese guardian lions or Foo dogs are found in imperial palaces for protection. The female on the left side restrains her cub and the male on the right rests his paw on the the world. The blue lattice pattern is found in interior ceilings and dividers.

This one has no filter, except for a vignette effect.






As you can see in the close-ups, the quality is excellent. The design is quite playful, but still very luxe. It would be perfect to send to people who hosted you as house guests since these dogs symbolize protection.

Or you can send it to James Yap, lol.


As a bonus, Isabel also writes about when and how to write a thank you note. (I've been a purveyor of writing gratitude cards, and I still learned quite a number of tips from her entry.)

All highlighted product descriptions are taken from her site. Note cards are P475 for a set of 10.





Monday, March 25, 2013

First steps

My mother may have taught me to love the English language but it was only lately that I realized it was my sister who taught me to love reading. She was a voracious reader; half a wall of our shared bedroom was filled with her Nancy Drews, Harold Robbins, and Sydney Sheldons. To an impressionable child like myself, it was a veritable library.

And so I started tinkering first, with the Nancy DrewsThe Mystery of the 99 Steps comes to mind, although I can no longer remember the details. Then came the Harold Robbins (The Carpetbaggers), which I vaguely remember. There were gangs and robbers in the forest and women getting raped. Then there were the Sydney Sheldons, with jewelry and art thieves, African sojourns, and nuns getting raped. (I remember Ma expressing distaste over said books, but did not exactly ban them in our household; I doubt she knew exactly what was in them.)

I was hooked.

In high school, our English teacher--I don't know what came over her--started flicking her tongue at a classmate and made a Harold Robbins reference; I remember being the only person in class who got that.

When my sister was in college, psychology books took most of the space on her shelf and so I started reading about those too. I learned about both mental and sexual disorders and realized people are not always what they seem. (Good to note for the upcoming elections.) I've started to become suspicious and pragmatic of people's behavior and their actions.

I truly, truly regret not being as absorbed as I should have been with my school books. I wish I was more attentive to my world and Philippines history, to Florante at Laura, King Lear, and Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo (the latter two I only came to read, appreciate, and value in the last two years). I wished I read them and asked questions--debated with my teachers, if I had to; I wished I didn't merely memorize information and recited them back to my teachers so I'd have a high grade.

In first year college, our English professor asked the class which Filipino writer do we read. No one raised their hand; I, the self-proclaimed 'book-lover,' could not raise my hand. "Not even Jessica Zafra?" she pressed. (The same professor, in private, asked me what book I was reading then. I answered, "Leo Buscaglia." I would never admit to that now.)

That began my love affair with Jessica Zafra. I carried her first Twisted series wherever I went, whether I was by my lonesome in the Sunken Garden, on my bus ride home from QC to Mandaluyong (wala pang MRT!) or at the dentist. ("Mukhang maganda yang binabasa mo ah," he quipped, seeing me in the waiting area laughing quietly; I was reading the Arnel Salgado part.)

Zafra thought me about sarcasm and dry wit, and definitely helped me in my first few forays into creative non-fiction and features writing. Most importantly, she thought me how important it is to WRITE CLEARLY. Her copy is always tight; no word is out of place.

Three years ago, I started a goal of reading one book each month. Through this, I've come to 'discover' the words of Christopher Hitchens, Jonathan Franzen, Richard Selzer, Muriel Barbery, Jeffrey Eugenides, David Levithan, Nathaniel Rich, Jose Saramago, Harper Lee, and only last year, Nick Joaquin (shame on me), among others. There are more to discover: I haven't read Haruki Murakami, Neil Gaiman, Butch Dalisay, or F. Sionil Jose.

It's been a long way from The 99 Steps, a long way from the boy who knew way too much for his age, and now has realized, he knows way too little.

(For the record, I'm against all types of violence. Just because I read them, it doesn't mean I'll go ahead and do them. I'm not stupid.)




Wednesday, March 06, 2013

My Nexus 4 review (with a really long, irrelevant intro)


I've had my Nokia e51 since 2004a lifetime when you consider how people change phones so frequently these days. It's what was considered a smartphone then: I was able to email, surf the web, and make video calls with it (the camera was a staggering 2MP!). I remember writing a blog entry touting its Symbian OS, haha! I loved the candybar form factor and most especially the keypadI've long fingers and a brutish thumb, reasons that kept me from switching to touchscreen.

I would have probably stayed loyal to my Nokia unit except that the screen was way too scratched up. Worse, after suffering way too many falls, the unit disintegrates all by itself. I fish it out in public and scarily realize I'm just holding on to the front panelthe back panel, battery, LCD, and keypad all remain in my pocket, lol.

Once, at a dinner with a really cute date, we argued over our text conversation. I was about to show him our messages to prove I'm right when I dug into my pocket for my phone and felt that the keypad was missing. I let him win.

I was bent on getting a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but then Globe Telecom came out with amazing deals for the iPhone 5 so I decided to get the latter instead. (My only qualifications are that the phone works smoothly and more importantly, that it looks gorgeous. Physically, I liked the iPhone 4 better than the 5, but I thought I might as well get the latest model.)

Then of course, Globe screws up my iPhone reservation with a series of excuses and incompetence that made me feel like I was the one begging them to sell me a unit (while they doled out free iPhones over Twitter). I then went back to considering the Samsung Nexus, except by this time, Google released a new model, the Nexus 4 from LG.

It's handsome.

The front panel is covered edge to edge with Gorilla glass, and with a screen size of 4.87" by 2.31", it's prime real estate for finger-swiping. The sides are chrome bezel with a soft, rubbery band which give this monochromatic design a rich texture. However, it's the back that I love the most about its looks: aside from a glass panel, it sparkles!

I've read some guys express misgivings about this detail but it's really no cause for concern. It's very subtle under normal lighting conditions, like a faint, black-and-white Matrix wallpaper. The holographic effect comes alive when you move it aroundbut still, not sparkly enough for me, lol.

In the evening, under a night lamp, is how I more like it. It's very Joan Collins playful and luxe:

 

 
Nexus 4, back panel from Jason D on Vimeo.


One word of caution though: since the phone is practically all-glass, it slides off smooth surfaces. I once placed it on top of my iPad, turned my back, and to my horror, heard a thud. It fell about 4 feet to the floor and to my relief, there was nary a scratch (floor is carpeted). I've read worse cases though, wherein their units suffered cracks. Some also say their phones got easily scratched. I'm not sure how that is possible with Gorilla glass, unless you deliberately scar your phone. In my case, I've no screen protector or bumper cases (why cover its naked beauty?) and minus the fingerprint smudges, it looks brand new. (I've had my phone for close to two months.)

As for the operating system,



Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Mightier


"Silence can be torture. It can be aggressive, it can be terrifying, or it can be blissful and beatific and serene; and I was a little afraid of it." 
-Colin Firth on his role in A Single Man (video, 17:15 mark)


"The best way to answer a bad argument is to let it go on and that silence is the 'unbearable repartee.'"



‘There is a charming quality, is there not,’ he said to me, ‘in this silence; for hearts that are wounded, as mine is, a novelist, whom you will read in time to come, claims that there is no remedy but silence and shadow. And see you this, my boy, there comes in all lives a time, towards which you still have far to go, when the weary eyes can endure but one kind of light, the light which a fine evening like this prepares for us in the stillroom of darkness, when the ears can listen to no music save what the moonlight breathes through the flute of silence.’ 
- Swann's Way, a book that is starting to grow on me



It's interesting how I've serendipitously come across these beautiful passages on 'silence' in the last three days.



Monday, March 04, 2013

As a friend put it, stream-of-consciousness narrative is nice when you're writing it


His way or the highway. The ruminations and wanderings don't stop.




"OMG, ANG OA MO!!!!" - Me, after reading more than 30 pages of stream-of-consciousness whining by the narrator on how he MUST get a nightly kiss from his mother.

Apparently, I won't have a respite from Proustian ka-OA-yan because Swann's Way—and in fact, the entire Remembrance of Things Past volume—is literature's classic example of stream-of-consciousness writing (though a literary critic argues otherwise).

A SoC narrative basically means surrendering to your inner ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) "depict(ing) the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind" aka an "interior monologue."

I can deal with SoC writing. One of my adored Alanis Morissette songs is The Couch, from the much-maligned but what is really one of my favorite albums of all time, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. However, Proust can really test your patience—I've gone through pages and pages and pages of material, and oh, what do you know—he was just describing how he's turning over his bed at night!

Meron din yung kumain lang sya ng cake (madeleine), naka isang chapter ka na.

Nevertheless, I am bent on finishing the book because ironically, this style of writing forces me to focus; I need to cling onto the writer's train of thought—and yes, the literal imagery works in this case—otherwise, I'll get lost and need to re-read a few pages back (no, we don't want that). It disciplines my mind, in a way.

Also, it does have passages that speak to me, such as this quote:

"Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life, little boy," he added, turning to me. "You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist's nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs."


I've also been reading about Marcel Proust's life in my attempt to get him, and I learned that he wrote this book as a tribute to his mother, who had just passed away at that time. It's still a stretch for me, but his terrible longing for that nightly kiss then makes more sense.

Have you read and survived or enjoyed Proust? Got any tips?






Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscars 2013


My best dressed at the Oscars are:


Jessica Chastain in Armani




Jennifer Lawrence in Dior

Also, you know it's an awesome dress when you still look stunning even from the back, after tripping up the stairs:







Emmanuelle Riva in Lanvin



All looked gorgeous in their simple and classic silhouettes... and they didn't have to highlight their nipples.




Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Film: Flight



What should be strictly a courtroom drama is stretched to two hours of convoluted film that attempts to deal with addiction, abusive relationships, ethics, morality, and justice.

Surprisingly, it works.

Denzel Washington plays a pilot who miraculously lands a plane after a harrowing flight. (If you are boarding a plane in the next few days, stay away from this film—it's traumatizing. Tatin: "Siguro naman wala 'to sa in-flight entertainment ng airlines!") He's a hero, without a doubt, but his checkered past threatens to pin him down in the crash investigation.




Audiences would be challenged to take sides in a debate that is hardly black or white. This is compounded by a compelling portrayal of an alcoholic by Denzel, whose arrogance and nuanced defiance are most often effortlessly (and sufficiently) expressed by his eyes. For someone who passes uncompromising judgement on people and issues, I found it hard to make up my mind on him.

Rating: 8.5/10





Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book: Brave New World

I learned about Brave New World through Grace Coddington's autobiography. She mentioned former Vogue editor Lady Clare Rendlesham, who I googled and later learned had a grandson who committed suicide in 2011 after reading the book by Aldous Huxley.

The dystopian novel is set in 2540 London, where science has made everything so perfect it's become terrifying. To create a harmonious society, a caste system has been established, where individuals have been programmed as early as fetuses to be satisfied with their roles; parents are eliminated—the mere mention of mother shocks anyone because it's such a blasphemous concept; and monogamy is extremely frowned upon. The idea is that no one feels passionate for anything or anyone since passion makes people impulsive, volatile, and erratic, and may therefore lead to an unstable society.

The first few pages may be jarring for the reader because of the clunky sci-fi terms—the novel was written in 1931 and science then has yet to reduce technology to extreme brevity. Take for example, his description of a reporter attempting to make a live broadcast:

"And rapidly, with a series of ritual gestures, he uncoiled two wires connected to the portable battery buckled round his waist; plugged them simultaneously into the sides of his aluminum hat; touched a spring on the crown-and antennæ shot up into the air; touched another spring on the peak of the brim-and, like a jack-in-the-box, out jumped a microphone and hung there, quivering, six inches in front of his nose; pulled down a pair of receivers over his ears; pressed a switch on the left side of the hat-and from within came a faint waspy buzzing; turned a knob on the right-and the buzzing was interrupted by a stethoscopic wheeze and cackle, by hiccoughs and sudden squeaks. 'Hullo,' he said to the microphone, 'hullo, hullo.'"

Nevertheless, going past that, Huxley offers a world which is chilling in its despotism and pragmatism. I've always considered the latter as a virtue, as one's anchor to logic and reason, but the novel offers a different, perverse perspective, and for that I am impressed (by the enlightenment it offers). One has to surrender himself to love, and consequently, to pain. In the context of the suicide incident I noted above, it's almost as if he did it to live.

You may download Brave New World from this site.



Monday, February 18, 2013

My review of Les Jamelles Pinot Noir 2010


Here's what I thought of the wine:



sadfklbluhrlk;lb l;lkur bklurh  lsadfdsf kdfsdf sfsdf ljlkl;j. falllksdf ;lk;lk lojoe; ;asdlk sdf lkool;oopw lloonnb cvrrgvrvb. vwadf. bklurh  sadfklbluhrlksadfklbluhrlk;lb l;lkur bklurh  lsadfdsf kdfsdf sfsdf ljlkl;j.

qxomo sadfklbluhrlk weasdfbkurh krjuughb rbu; arrgknlk bklurh  dfalllksdf ;lk;lk lojoe; ;asdlk sdf lkool;oopw falllksdf ;lk;lk lojoe; ;asdlk sdf lkool;oopw lloonnb cvrrgvrvb. vwadf. bklurh  sadfklbluhrlk lloonnb cvrrgvrvb. vwadf. bklurh  sadfklbluhrlk

qxomo falllksdf ;lk;lk lojoe; ;asdlk sdf lkool;oopw lloonnb cvrrgvrvb. vwadf. bklurh  sadfklbluhrlk weasdfbkurh krjuughb rbu; arrgknlk dfalllksdf ;lk;lk lojoe;

sdf lkool;oopw lloonnb cvrrgvrvb. vwadf.


Translation: Got too drunk to care.

I'm crossing off "Drink wine once a month" off my list after a harrowing 9 hours last Saturday, which involved a lot of vomit, headcahe, stomach acheall while dealing with a flooded apartment* I don't have anyone to blame except my stupid selfwhat can one expect from drinking an entire bottle in less than two hours.


* * * *

In other news, I'm transferring to Google Plus for now because I love the UI (it looks like the smarter and dignified cousin of Facebook) and because I'm attempting to harness the collated power of Google trying to streamline my online presence once again ("By creating a new site?" the devil's advocate smirked). I'll have less control of my page layout, I know, so I'm still not sure if I can fully make the transition; we'll see.

Do add me up. Thanks!


_______________
*Out of nowhere, I heard a waterworld sound from my bed; I rushed downstairs to see a gallon of distilled water spilled on the floor




Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday 'blues'



When Richelle aka weekendsinthecity asked for my postal address weeks ago, I was thrilled because as her blog follower, I know she's been making handcrafted cards and I would be happy—honored even—to receive one of her creations.

Imagine my surprise, when instead of a postcard, which was what I expected, I received a brown package and therein contained not just one, but so many of her magical works.

Aside from a very sweet note, she sent me my very first washi type in my favorite print (Richelle's collection was recently featured in Inquirer); ink-stained (or is it watercolor?) stickers, which she made herself (I love how organic they look); and a cute paper origami which I'm unfraid to unfold because knowing myself, I won't be able to put it back together, haha!



She also made "resolution reminder cards" which I sorely need because this early, I'm already starting to slack away, e.g., my last blog entry was in January! Plus, a couple of just-in-case emergency note cards. Note too her beautiful calligraphy:



More note cards, this time with a cheeky, "Hoy!" Haha, lovett!



As if those weren't enough, she also sent in Filipino Thank You cards. Her design and calligraphy are gorgeous and elegant; I also love the linen finish of the paper she used. If she starts selling these, I'd be first in line and I'm sure she'd make a killing.



Monday mornings are hardly as perfect as this. Thank you!




Monday, January 28, 2013

Book: Garlic and Sapphires - The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise



I cannot remember having savored reading a book this much. I picked up this book at the height of my 'food blogging' days. (Have I ever explained that? It was a private joke among friends, a dig at self-important bloggers. Whenever we were out, I'd stop everyone from eating—they have to keep still and watch me photograph their food. It started out as a joke although eventually, I did blog about the restaurants to fully play the part. My friends were nice enough to play along that later, they would actually remind to take pictures or else, they won't start eating. *I just have to say, I loooove my friends.*

And then I partly joked on Twitter about how serious I was going to be with my reviews: I'm not writing about a restaurant until I've visited it at least thrice. Well, look at what that got me: 0 reviews since, lol. That simply means I've been eating in a lot of new restaurants—which is true—and I've been dependent on my staples, such as Max's, McDonalds, and Jollibee, lol.

Aaanyway (what an intro)... so yeah, I've started to take my food reviews seriously that in December, I decided to check out the available food literature in Fully Booked. Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise is what jumped at me. It's one of the best and entertaining books I've ever read.

It's easy to get to know her: she's very accessible, which is in fact, one of the reasons why she earned a circle of haters early on in her stint as the new food critic of The New York Times. Under her helm, she shifted attention to what was then a burgeoning, yet ignored, underworld of global cuisine (think Korean, Indian, and Chinese), which was a huge departure from the point of view of her predecessor, who was a vanguard of classic European food. That alone was very enlightening for me, to think of food as a global industry with an economic and social impact, in the same manner that Devil Wears Prada, the film, gave similar credit to fashion.

Today, Asian restaurants are very much a staple in cosmopolitan cities around the world. (And I suspect, Ruth had a hand in it.) In Manila, Asian food franchises are becoming de rigeur. (In my mind, I was trying to argue that the concept of an Asian restaurant franchise in Manila was unthinkable a decade ago, but I've no data to back it up*. I'm thinking along the lines of Chowking and Thai-in-a-Box versus actually bringing in say, Bon Chon or Bulgogi Brothers, which to me, is more a validation of our Asian neighbors' cuisine. We were then more welcoming of Western, mostly fast food, joints.)

* * * * 
*Texted Pam for her opinion: 


Pam: "I think it's because we follow worldwide trends rin and Asian food has boomed in the past years. Bon Chon (and Korean fried chicken) had been a hit in New York for several years before someone brought it here. Parang it had to be validated muna by the Western market. Same thing with the frozen yogurt companies—sa Korea nagsimula tapos sumikat sa States bago dinala dito. Ganun din yung milk tea places. I also think it's because Pinoys are traveling more... they have more exposure in terms of seeing what's out there.

"I'm happy we have Wee Nam Kee, J.Co, and all these Asian grown restos in the country pero pangarap ko talaga is to see our homegrown restos branch out naman and enjoyed by a more international market."

We had a far longer conversation until she eventually mentioned that she recently found a food book that she had been hunting—it turned out to be Garlic and Sapphires!

* * * * 

Her accessibility is such that she goes out of her way to disguise herself so she may report on a dining experience that would be closer to that of the ordinary person. (The disparity between the experience of an average consumer and a New York Times critic is worlds apart: in one instance, the King of Spain—certainly not ordinary—was made to wait at the bar for a table, while Ruth was immediately ushered in.) Hence, she writes a review, which the average reader may relate to even if it’s about a three-star Michelin restaurant.

I also learned how dining out can be a political exercise, more so in a city whose denizens rule the world. I don't know about the high-end restaurants here (but I sure hope it is not the case, because hello, this is Manila—no restaurant can ever be that self-important), but the disguised Ruth had to contend with waiters and sommeliers who ignore her, and tables meant to hide her from the rest of distinguished patrons. I also learned that restaurants can be sexist.

Even wine selection is an art—a patron and a sommelier can spend the first few minutes volleying questions to determine if the diner is worthy of special attention. Should you immediately agree with the wine recommendation, you may be regarded as a pushover and be relegated among les miserables.

Those stories were definitely frustrating to read about. Since this was written in the late ‘90s, the book did make me think about how such pompous restaurants would react to the food culture today, specifically, one that involves Instagram. As it turned out, they did not disappoint: see Restaurants Turn Camera Shy.

However, there are also the heartwarming stories—especially when she digs deep and talks about her own personal relationship with food—and glowing reviews that wax poetic about glorious dishes and which eventually made me so hungry at inconvenient times of the day. Consider yourself warned :-)




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