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


"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?

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