Million thanks to the people who took some of their precious time reading, sharing, blogging, re-blogging, tweeting, google plus-ing (whut?), and commenting on my article published in Philippine Daily Inquirer‘s Young Blood last week.
Many personal messages surprised and touched me. Friends told me that it was trending in FB, it’s the top most read article in Inquirer.net last week, and (the boyfriend said) my blogsite reached 2.7 million hits. I appreciate them all. Thank you.
One of my initial reactions was: Wow, many people still read. Cool! Some wanted to meet us in person, and some were inspired to write, to travel, to smile, and to blog. Some even joked about riding buses more often.
But, since I’m a shy person, let me divert your attention to more interesting people than me. My Comm Arts friends.
Communication Arts is usually the butt end of jokes in the university because according to others,
1. we don’t have higher Math/Science subjects
2. we’re “just” doing theater, our curriculum has nothing in it but general education courses
3. and we are “maaarte” (help me with the English term for this… finicky? girly? flirty?).
I just shrug these off and the hundred associations to “Comm Arts” because while others make a fuss about us, we rock and roll.
Let me introduce you to two awesome Comm Arts graduates whom I’ve worked with since college days: Kei and Jay. The three of us belong to the same batch, 2001, and from neighboring towns in Laguna. Later on, we did Lakwatcha.
Jay is a game designer at Makati based Anino Games. He works with a team who conceptualizes, designs, and tests games for PC, mobile phones, and other devices. Since his is a job that needs a non-stop source of creativity, I am hands down to Jay’s storytelling powers and designs. To top it all, he and his teammates recently won Manila Game Jam 2012!
Now, Prof Kei.
She graduated magna cum laude. (LOL she doesn’t like being introduced this way). She finished MA Media Studies (Film) in UP Diliman and acclaimed film critic Roland Tolentino is her thesis adviser.
This month, she heads a film festival called “Pelikultura.” Last year’s festival appeared to be successful and I’m sure this year’s will be, too.
Last December the three of us met in Santa Rosa, Laguna to have our first unplanned Laguna-Quezon-Batangas road trip with Jay driving a van. You can check out the long adventure story at his website (thesalmonellawars.blogspot.com), but if it were a story, the premise could’ve been:Read More
These are some of the people I work with at the International Rice Research Institute, Communication and Publications Services. From left: Bill, our copy editor; Gene, CPS’s big boss; Angel and Jessica, they belong to a different unit in CPS I forget what they do hehe; Gani, photography; me, extra; and Lanie, one of Rice Today’s editors, IRRI side.
I actually work for a different company (one of IRRI’s partners), but they invited me to their Christmas ‘party.’
Gene said I’d experience their different style of party, and it is not your ordinary celebration as we all boarded a coaster that took us to Bahay Tsinoy museum and Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila where we had a walking trip. It was cool. I felt like a kid in a field trip, especially when they distributed snacks in the coaster, a big ham sandwich and a small pack of Lays, plus soda/juice and water. So cute. Then we went on our separate ways at ATC before the buffet at Leslie’s.
This is one lovely memory to keep.Read More
This shot was taken last year in my father’s birthplace, Mindoro. That cottage stands in the middle of a fishpond in the middle of rice fields in the middle of nowhere near the vast Naujan Lake, which can be seen from the three-story resthouse owned by my father’s sister (I was standing on the rooftop when I took this photo).
My ancestors, both side, were farmers and planters, so I feel for the almost 5,000 farmers of Hacienda Luisita who were denied of their right of ownership to 10,000 hectares of lands in the Cojuangco-Aquino ‘owned’ hacienda in Central Luzon, letting these oligarchs amass fortunes decade after decade at the bloody expense of the poor farmers. Upon my return to the Philippines, I was greeted with the news that the Supreme Court is ruling the distribution of Hacienda Luisita Inc. lands to their rightful owners.
It’s about time that justice be served and farmers enjoyed the fruit of their own labor and the peace of nature.Read More
Thought of putting a Friday mainstay which starts today. A snapshot. No dilly dallying. Just a photo. Up here is a hill near where I live in Northeast Singapore. Clouds are steady, watching kites approach them.
When I checked in and entered my room, I literally stopped in awe at the room reserved for me (my mind said: omigoshoigoshomigosh).
Like in my other trips, I don’t expect much from the places nor do I read so many travel guides since they may spoil my own impressions. One funny habit I have is, I read travel blogs of a place after I’ve been there, then I look at the differences and be happy about the coincidence of similarities.
Every little thing in Ho Chi Minh put me in deep awe (and sometimes giddiness) from my hotel room to the streets. I packed enough WOWs in my vocabulary so I never ran out of them right from the moment I stepped out of the plane.
Walking is a way to conquer a city and one’s mind I believe, and I am thankful that I managed to survive the infamous motorcycle traffic of Ho Chi Minh as I walked for hours. From my walks, I took a photo of the Municipal Theatre, posed in front of the Post Office designed by Eiffel Tower architect, went inside the Notre Dame Cathedral, looked at the high-end fashion boutiques at the ground level of antique and classy Rex Hotel, walked around with my bosses at the Vincom Center (mall), took a peek at the Fine Arts Museum and Reunification Palace, bought something at the Ben Thanh Market and took everything in from rest of the quiet streets of HCM.
For the entire week, I only spent about VND50,000 (about 2 US dollars or Php100) for a bowl of beef noodles outside the hotel since everything was paid for by the company. After days of preparation and the 2-day event in the hotel, and everyone flying back to his country, I stayed for three more days to be fair with my stay in Vietnam.
My plan was to make up for my lack of adventures because of the oh-so-comfy touristy accommodations and food that pampered me like a hedonist for a week. My traveler’s conscience was telling me: this is not the way we travel (although of course, I was there to work).
Off the beaten track was my goal. I dragged my purple luggage down to the hotel lobby when I checked out, and waited for a friend to help me find a cheaper hotel, preferably a backpacker’s inn or something (but he wouldn’t let me stay in really cheap inns where you sleep with an army of backpackers). Juni found me a nice one: USD21/night! It’s a great bargain since most of the cheap hotels there are USD30-40/night (my room at Sheraton was USD200/night).Read More
Oh my. Vietnamese food is all goodness. Heaven’s delight.
Honestly I had zero idea what specialty Vietnam has, until my co-editor at IRRI, Lanie, advised me to try pho, noodles made of rice! (they’re abundant with rice, Vietnam being the world’s second largest rice exporter (after Thailand).
That advice came to me weeks before my Saigon trip and I’ve forgotten about the pho? po? ho? (I even forgot what it’s called). The first time I tasted this pho was when I ordered room service after a long day of work that ended past dinnertime. I was scanning the hotel menu, stopped at ‘Vietnamese specials,” saw pho, and dialed the room service.
I fell in love with it at first sight when it was delivered.
The broth was holy. Noodles, hunger-satisfying. Chicken slices crowded the bowl. And the magic ingredients: herbs. Those herbs taught me what good food is. All those flavors playing with my taste buds really know how to please the senses, as if I’m eating and relaxing and having a back massage and body spa all at the same time.
I used to struggle with my chopsticks. But back in Singapore I used to eat Ban Mian (hand-kneaded egg noodles with anchovies and garlic) using chopsticks so I’m glad I didn’t have to ruin my pho experience with a fight with my sticks.
I so fell in love with chicken pho, that the next morning, this is what I had again during the breakfast buffet.
I did some online research about restaurants in Ho Chi Minh and saw Pho 24 and Pho 2000 as popular restaurants that serve various types of pho in very affordable prices. Tourists won’t miss these eateries because many corners in HCM have Pho 24 and/or 2000.
First, they will serve you the happy plate of herbs and onions and lemon and monggo sprouts and chili and other condiments. A wet tissue or towel is a staple in many restaurants here. Then they serve the hypnotizing broth with choice of chicken, beef, seafoods, or veggies.
I’ve had chicken lots of times. Beef, too. So, I tried vegetables at Pho 2000 near Saigon Center. When the bowl was served, I smiled at the party going on in my soup.
Another noodle soup I tried is Hue Beef Muscle Noodle. The broth was spicy and flour noodles aren’t as good as the rice noodles. All in all, slurping it was not exactly as satisfying as the pho experience, but it’s interesting because it’s like playing a game with my tongue: “What’s that leaf you’re eating,” or ”When will the burning spice leave your mouth.”
Before my pho craze, I was already nuts about spring rolls and vermicelli noodles at the Vietnam House.
They were hesitant to come in first because Vietnam Dong can be quite confusing: a complete meal can cost up to VND120,000.
I told them, that’s only 6 dollars.Read More
Last week was a crazy week for our company as we organized the World Rice Conference in Ho Chi Minh (former Saigon), Vietnam.
Let my first Vietnam blog be a no-brainer: my travel closet. Before the event, I was handed our company shirt. I’m not very small, but the shirt was really huge. XL, American size. It’s the only available size and I understand we needed to wear it during our preparation in the hotel’s grand ballroom area. I’ve pointed this out to the Boss, but he gave it to me anyway.
After trying it on in front of my room’s huge mirror, I whipped out a belt, buttoned up to the top, and made a kimono out of the super sized white polo shirt.
Its fabric is not your ordinary cotton, but satin-like cloth. C’est parfait. When I showed up for breakfast and told them I’m wearing the shirt, they looked closely and were pleased about this new company dress. But that’s the first and last time I experimented with my outfit because my whole week attire had been pre-meditated for the conference.
I remember an interview with clozette.co, a fashion website with an office in Singapore. I was asked if I know anything about fashion, and I had to admit I was only interested, but not knowledgeable, and because of that, I was challenged to work on my wardrobe. I guess this is a good start:
Welcome to my humble closet back at Sheraton Hotel Saigon.
This is my first business trip so on the left side you see some fancy black suits. And squeezed between the white cocktail dresses and bathrobes are more relaxed dresses and different types of long sleeves.
This dress is one of my sister’s precious finds in a bazaar in Singapore. The fabric is heavy yet it clings to the skin like soft silk. Its highlight is the bling-bling strap made of gorgeous faux diamonds. The thick black belt is the final magic touch that gave the dress an edge.
A pre-event outfit is this A-line chiffon dress with tiny white roses by the neckline. Underneath are layers of lacesRead More
Liwaliw, in English,
is strolling or roaming,
and this is precisely what my long-time friends and I did in mythological goddess Makiling’s beloved province, Laguna.
[photos by CJ Brosas]
It has become a curious coincidence that the three of us, Connet B. and Jay G., would go out to some far flung place, on a whim, with no experience (or idea) how to get there. First time we did this was when we found ourselves riding an ordinary bus to the famed Caramoan islands in Bicol.
This time, it was nearer (we all live in Laguna). Another college friend, CJ, invited us to his hometown Liliw–one of the oldest towns of Laguna–known as the Tsinelas (slipper/sandals) Capital of the Philippines and if I may add, that quaint little town at the foot of mystical Mt. Banahaw.
Evening arrived before we did. The rain did a good job in soaking us and bringing us closer together, under one umbrella, which is, believe or not, Jay‘s.Read More
That’s how our 4-day stay in Boracay Island, Aklan started: with a very long lazy day of beach bumming while waiting for our relatives to arrive nine hours after us.
Nine hours. And we thought the day would never end. With eating lunch and merienda in between, my brother and I walked the long stretch of sand and waded the beach after leaving our bags in the hotel.
Our relatives left Manila after lunch (while our flight was 8am, which we moved to 7am because we were early at the airport and the Check In lady told us we can fly earlier if we want). Then they flew to Kalibo, Aklan (unlike us who went directly to Caticlan, a ferry boat away from Boracay), where they had to ride a van for about an hour to Caticlan.
Tired of walking, we sat down to marvel at the sands in different stations of Boracay. Some are fine, others are finer. Hmm. Just like people.
We also explored the alleys.
inconspicuous alley that leads to best bargains of D’ Talipapa
Boracay Regency grand staircase along the beachfront
After all these, we checked the time and it was just early in the afternoon. Exhausted to the bone marrows, we slept under the sun, well, under the shades of coconut trees at first, then we woke up to the burning heat and UV rays penetrating our skin.
As a result, see the before and after of my skin:Read More