Singapore’s leading publisher, SPH, reported that the country has the “highest density of millionaires” around the world because of the state’s small size and the number of millionaires living here: 99,000! A typical millionaire, the report says, has an average of 3 signature watches (SGD15,000 each or half a million pesos), and travels out of the country every month (for international cuisine and leisure), among others.
When I shared this statistical fact of inequality, I mean, demographics, to Mike, we started being curious about people we see–is that one of the 99,000? Ah that luxury car driver is one of them son of a… millionaire, actually aside from the Queen Bees (old women millionaires) and Old Gold (men), there are also the young corporate bankers and traders who are part of this 2% (hmmm that rings an Occupy bell).
I’m using here our photos in Clarke Quay (accessible thru the MRT purple line) because it’s one of the beautiful and sleek places in Singapore. One memorable experience I hold here is when I had a lunch meeting with my Singaporean boss and his Aussi friend who’s a magazine publisher and who’s been living in Singapore for six years.
It was cool watching them talk about their international trips (which eventually, and sadly for me, turned to sports talk). Lots of them businessmen and women in suit (many of which are Caucasians) could be spotted in Clarke Quay because of nearby offices. These guys may not necessarily be the millionaires I’m talking about, but they’re part of the workforce and industries that form the capillaries and veins of Singapore’s well-pumped economic system.Read More
Once upon a modern time, before iPhone 4s was released, my game designer friend Jay warned me, in an arcane tone, that the way you look at mobile phones will never be the same again once you use an iPhone. Since I was never a techie person, that geek data he was trying to feed my electronics-proof head didn’t really come through.
The boyfriend, another mad consumer of technology, has been arguing me into buying myself an iPhone and an Apple computer. But for months, I argued back that I’m not getting an over-priced piece of metal that will only make Steve Jobs or his capitalist company richer, and that I don’t want to contribute to this generation’s withdrawal from the real world and retreat to solitary bubbles created by smartphones. Besides, I have lost two phones already (one was stolen) and I was afraid I may not take it well if I lose a ridiculously expensive phone.
I was happy with my Samsung Corby. All I needed was something to call and text my contacts.
Early this year, fatigue and unspeakable loneliness got me, so I thought of rewarding myself with something lavish. During one road trip with friends, I asked them which, between a Blackberry and iPhone, should I buy. In unison, they said iPhone. I think it was Kate (who owns/owned about 3 phones, one is BB, for her journalistic chores) who said that Blackberry’s having all sorts of problems (month after that, this news came out: “Blackberry’s manufacturer Research in Motion Ltd made $125 million loss in the first quarter of 2012 as consumers abandon Blackberry in favour of Apple’s iPhone and smart phones running Google’s Android system.”)
Long story short: I gave in to the temptations of biting the Apple. I ordered an iPhone 4s (16GB, white) with unlimited cellular data, and got it in a week.
Holy cup of coffee. When I started exploring the features and apps of the iPhone 4s, I was converted. During the first few days, I was so absorbed by the applications that Michael would tease me saying I no longer Skype him or call him or text him because of the very thing I abhorred in the first place. I just said LOL!!! True!!! Then I went back to downloading and searching for apps.Read More
Today’s a lovely day. I’m back at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquarters in Los Baños to start another issue of Rice Today. IRRI is just beside the UPLB campus, so walking around the university brings me back to my golden days of 2001 when I was a freshman. I felt like a student again walking with young people most of whom carry nothing but a notebook, and perhaps a ballpen in one pocket. A typical college student. Watching the students walk to their buildings, I was thinking lots of things but I’ll blog about this next time because I need to work now…but this day started lovely as some friends tagged me in an FB post. I was published in Inquirer’s Young Blood! Yehey!
And because of this single story, I received a hundred messages and a million blog hits. Thanks to those 11,000 readers who liked and shared the Inquirer piece!Read More
For the most part of my life, I was that skinny little poor flat-chested thing buried on the pages of novels well into my early 20s. Until one day, like in the movie Persepolis, the body decided to pop some boobs and swell the hips to 35 inches. The face remained boyish with thick eyebrows and upper lip hair, zits every ‘bloody’ month and pointed chin. Oh, and the face can be a future oil reserve.
I’m not sure if I was/am that ugly because Raymond, a close friend of mine, once gave me an eyeshadow as a (21st? 22nd?) birthday gift, telling me that maybe I should start wearing make up. My younger sister, that ever loving person, would not give my pores a break, commenting with dramatic shock on her face how huge they are. These are fine, of course, but if I can remember correctly, there’s one time in the University when I was passing by a hub of an organization notorious for bullying; one of them said ‘yuck’ loudly after looking at me and everybody laughed. That was my first year of teaching and my soft heart was crushed. I could only think, Wow, did that just happen? Can’t they be more discreet? Ouch ha.
Oh well, I have forgiven him/them/whoever they are and I wish them a good life
like I have now. Pero tongena nila haha. Seriously speaking, I feel sorry for their faces, too I understand bullying is a psychological problem.
But, I was guilty somehow because I really didn’t have time to groom myself well. I’d rather glue my eyes on books and handouts. Vanity wasn’t simply my pastime. I don’t remember now, when exactly I started to have a liking for girly stuff years ago, but only recently did I blog about them.
The last kikay/vain craze I did was the MAC make up tutorial for a minimum of SGD150 (USD 180 or Php5000) make up purchase in some mall in Singapore. My sister is the one interested in the make up session, so she went with me and watched the MAC staff paint my face.
The staff asked first which makeup I want to learn, morning or evening? I said drag. She laughed. I wasn’t even kidding. Anyway I ended up with an evening makeup.
She put an assortment of brushes in front of me. They’re like painting brushes for different strokes. That blurred bottle in the picture is the mist spray to prepare the canvas that is my face. Then she massaged the moisturizer on my face for a couple of minutes. It was so relaxing I didn’t want her to stop. Then she left, for the moisturizer to set.
She came back to apply the make up primer and foundation using a brush. She said I can use my fingers or sponge as an alternative. One set of brush is a hundred Sing dollars.
Then she applied a separate eye primer. Then concealer. Then a layer of dark eye shadow which she blended for a smokey look. Then liquid eye liner. She would do the right side of my face and give me the brushes for me to do the other side. I was afraid to mess up with my right side and look like two face. But it went fine. She was surprised that I can draw a quick straight line using the liquid liner since it’s difficult to apply, she said. I call it obedience–she said “now, draw a line just above your eye lashes.”
However, it looks like eye shadow is not for me. As soon as I open my eyes, voila! It disappears!
Then we applied the mascara. Then blush (my weakness) on my smiling cheekbone. Then lip primer, lip liner, lipstick, lip gloss. I fell in love with the brown lipstick. It wasn’t all brown when applied to my lips so that set made it to my purchase list:
Boldly Bare Lip Pencil
I Love Winter creme sheen lipstick
Deelight lip gloss.
To complete the look, she brushed on about three powders on my face, two are loose mineral powders and one is something glittery for a celebrity effect. And I almost forgot, she brushed my eyebrows and applied a gel on it using something like a mascara brush.
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
When I learned about the brutal death of a former student in Eng 2, I cried. I remember her.Read More
Couple of days ago, I solicited suggestions for all-time tear-jerker movies, the kind that will give you swollen eyes and runny nose. And here’s what I got:
Rizza: A Moment to Remember
In Japanese, the name Ai means- love.
If the tsunami in Japan sent waves of panic and end-of-the-world thoughts (and jokes) around the globe, I could only think of that statement.
In Japanese, the name Ai means- love.
Our social conscience would tug at our heart strings, feel for Japan, and offer a prayer or a minute of silence. Some people would go as far as to invoke your guilt and tell you to repent so that you be reserved a space in heaven come judgement day. I have nothing against this. But I’m not crazy about it either.
I’m crazy about that statement,Read More
*to Juni, who lent me dvds of gayness, after he talked about his clothing designs and love affairs, the first time I met him one evening in Quezon Ave.
Issues of gender are difficult to evade because along with social class, education, religion, nationality (among others), gender is part of one’s subject position-or the totality of a person that defines human relations in a society.
Even in the simple pastime of watching films, it is doubly difficult to ignore the most complicated questions on gender especially if those movies have pronounced claims on homo/heterosexuality.Read More