Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Off kilter

There's a new guy on the other side of our office who's just a tad bit off-kilter. To me, at least.

If memory serves me right, he started to work here around a month back. He sits at the cubicle that Joe formerly occupied, and that's en route to the water cooler, ergo, it's a place I pass through at least 6 times a day.

One time, we ran across each other in the corridor. Since he was new, I quickly smiled at him and said: "Hello." He acknowledged my greeting and even doubled back to communicate his pleasantries. A few days after, I noticed that whenever i'd pass by his cube, he'd crane his neck up and look. When we're about to meet at the corridor, he'd stop and watch me until i've passed by. One time, while I was refilling my bottle at the water cooler, he stood beside me and just looked at me until I finished.

After a situation like that, i'd quickly check myself in the mirror because i might have something on my face. Or maybe the phrase "leer at me" is written on my forehead without me knowing it. Fortunately, i've found nothing on my face or my forehead those times. And this makes me wonder a bit more.

Today, while I was on my way down to buy a snack, we took the same elevator. And he did it again! He stood beside me, craned his neck up (since he's just up to my ear) and leered. I looked at him and smiled, and he was just frozen in place. He did that from the 33rd floor down. Thank goodness it was a high-speed elevator!

While buying crackers at Manning's, I was trying to decipher what makes him do it. Do I look like so different from the other people in the office? Do I remind him of someone? Is he a Steve Martin fan? Are my brows too thick? Ah yes, the mystery of it all. Now, if he does that again the next few weeks, it might just push me to demand an answer from him.

Hmmm... Maybe he has "gweilomania."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Egging for more

Here's a frivolous and fascinating factoid. If there's one thing our office never runs out of, it's these absolutely yummy little creations called egg tarts. (Ok, that's another thing our office never runs out of. The other thing is smart-alecky wisecracks from co-workers. But that's another story.) Since I joined this office, there would always be an ubiquitous pink box scattered around somewhere. Open that ubiquitous pink box and you'll find a dozen egg tarts. And once the scent of egg tarts waft out of the ubiquitous pink box, you can expect people to just gather round and start talking and snacking away.

I think egg tarts are Hong Kong's version of the water cooler. (Although we do have our own water cooler.) It's a reason for people to converge, hang around and exchange stories. More than once every week, you can see people happily chatting away with an egg tart in hand. And I must say, once I have an egg tart, I'd be happy, too.

There are only two words to describe these tarts: YUM. MY! The crust is so soft and flaky that they almost disintegrate once it gets in your mouth. It has the right amount of saltiness to balance out the sweetness of the filling. And the filling! It's like leche flan, albeit not so sweet. It has that perfect blend of softness and firmness. No wonder it's HK's favorite tea time fare.

It's funny because i'm raving about this particular egg tart, and it's not even the best that this country has to offer. The famous egg tart in HK is the one in Central, and was the personal favorite of Lord Chris Patten - HK's last British leader. Haven't tried that yet, and once I do, i'm sure that the experience will go straight to print here.

In the meantime, let me enjoy my egg tart and cold water. Oh wait, I should scoot over and join my colleagues. I wouldn't want to miss the deliciously evil stories that often comes with it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A bit more taxing

This taxing start of the week was brought to you courtesy of:

1. Stubborn people
2. Finicky people
3. People who don't know what they want

and of course,

4. The receipt from the taxman certifying that they've gotten the money from my account.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

My brother's toys. My sister's dress. My favorite thing.

Today was spent doing errands for my siblings back in Manila. My brother has been bugging me to look for this particular toy for him, and since the next few weekends will be hectic, I thought this would be the best time to go out there and look for it. If my brother was 12 years old and the toy he wanted was the latest set from Hotwheels or the newest Monopoly game board, this chore would be so much simpler.

Alas, my brother is 40 years old, and the toy he wants is so specialized, it took me about 3 hours to locate it. But thanks to my keen sense of shopping direction, i was able to find them. And here they are:

Kuya has always been an army buff, and if not for our Dad and Lolo, he would've probably pursued his dream to go to the PMA and become an army man. But since our elders prevailed, he went from Army Man to Family Man, which isn't really a bad trade off. So, to vent out his military frustrations, he now collects these Army toys.

I'm amazed at the details of these action figures. They make Ken look like a plastic blob! The armaments are also something else! They details are impeccable, and that's probably the reason why Kuya likes it so much. This is the closest he'll get to handling high-powered guns. Hahaha.

Oh, the thing about these toys is that they're a bit pricey. After the shop keeper told me how much it was, I almost dropped my wallet. It's almost US100 per piece! Heck, that's a pair of jeans and a shirt from Zara already! (Yup, Kuya and I have different priorities.) But despite the 3 hour hunt, i'm glad I found these because i'm sure it'll make Kuya giggle like a little kid again.

And speaking of finds, for me, this has to be THE fashion find in my stay in Hong Kong. Well, THE fashion find so far, at least. I was wandering around Causeway Bay and I ventured into a shop that had nice sweaters. Once I got inside, the shop seem to just go on and on! When I reached the back area, I found out a place that can be best described as "Miss USA gown heaven." Yup, I think it's where the beaded and bedazzled Miss USA gowns go when they retire. Hahaha.

Always on the look out for a nice evening dress for my Ates, I decided to pore through every rack hoping that there would be something nice hidden among those gaudy, oversequined and over-petticoat-ed numbers. And yes, I found this.

It was a nice, pistachio-green slip made of a peau de soie material. It was so light and airy that it creates that almost etheral look. If nymphs had cocktail dresses, I think they'd be wearing this one. The neckline had velvet a velvet trim, and it had tucks and pleats that made the shape very distinct. To add to the quirkiness of the dress, the hem was scalloped. So on the whole, this was a dress worth purchasing. And after giving it a last run through, I found out a detail that sealed the fashion deal - BIG TIME!

When I looked at the tag, I was shocked at what I saw:

Yes, it's a Vera Wang dress! These babies will cost around US$300 in the US, and probably more if you buy it at Lane Crawford. (The Vera Wang dress I saw there was around HK$30,000!) And given those price ranges, this was an easy decision. Quickly, I snapped the dress to keep anyone from getting it, then I paid for it.

Thank goodness not a lot of people know this shop. And thank goodness not a lot of people know who Vera Wang is! Hahaha.

And to cap off my shopping Sunday, I bought something for myself. Yup, since my brother will be happy, and my sister will be happy, might as well buy something that will make ME happy as well.

Yup, my favorite fruits are in season again! Fresh Cherries! They were available at the Fa Yuen Street Market and I immediately bought 4 kilos. I'm going to down all these after dinner while watching re-runs of America's Top Model. That way I can eat my favorite fruit while watching my favorite ANTM runner up.

Today is a good Sunday. Good indeed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Failure to Lunch

It was a perfect plan that was arranged since Wednesday.

My friend and I were tired of the usual Chinese and Vietnamese noodles for lunch, and we decided to have a hearty, special and proper Western lunch today. The restaurant was set - Dan Ryan's Grill - chosen for their wonderful selection of steaks and entrees. Dan Ryan's is something like Ruby Tuesdays, Friday's, Chili's and Fat Angelo's combined, and you can never go wrong with a combination like that.

Knowing how Dan Ryan's can get a bit crowded on Friday, we decided to book in advance. Table for two at 1 p.m. - check!

We arrived at the mall around 12:50, so we had 10 minutes to spare. On our way to Dan Ryan's, we passed by a Zara store. Wanting to maximize our time, we decided to go inside and check for new merchandise. What we found was something better - Final Reductions! Jeans that used to sell for $450 are down to $130. Suit prices are slashed from $2000 to $800. Dresses that used to go for $1200 are now selling for $250!

My friend panicked! Like a crazy woman, she started to grab dresses left and right, and went straight to the dressing room. Meanwhile, I meandered around and looked for something that my sisters would like. There were a lot of promising finds - jeans that Ate Lissa can wear to the next PTA and dresses that Ate Bullet can wear to her next exhibit. Not long after, I found myself carrying a couple of hangers.

The next time my friend and I saw each other, she was carrying 8 dresses, while I had 2 pairs of jeans and 3 dresses tucked under my arms. While queueing at the cashier we both made a realization that startled us:


Yup, it was already 1:50pm, meaning we were very, very, very late. Paying for our purchases took another 10 minutes, and when we got to Dan Ryan's, our table was gone. (But of course!)

We looked at each other and smiled. After planning and anticipating this lunch for the past few days, we missed it on account of a sale. But seeing how each of us had big Zara bags on hand and satisfied smiles on our faces, we didn't mind. After all, Dan Ryan's will always be there, and the Zara sale won't.

Lugging these bags, we looked for the nearest and most convenient place to eat.

And we had our hearty, special and proper Western lunch at McDonald's.

(McDonald's is Western, right? One out of 4 ain't that bad.)


And yes, I learned something new today. I learned that I can write in Thai!

(I don't know what I wrote though.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sodas Ne!

This afternoon, we wandered into the photocopy area and found a spanking new refrigerator. When we opened it, it was super loaded with canned soda!

Later on, we were told that it was an added perk for employees. Yup, not only do we have the usual water cooler, brewed coffee maker and espresso machine, we now have drink-all-you-can-canned-soda.

I guess they're trying to give everyone a sugar rush...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


This should give the phrase: "drunk with chocolate" a totally new meaning.

A friend from Europe who went to Japan sent me this. It's a product of Sapporo, one of Japan's most popular beer brands, but it ain't beer.

It's chocolate! Beer-flavoured chocolate to be exact.

At first, the thought of it made me wince and frown. But after tasting it, my views on the product changed totally. It tastes a lot like bitter, dark chocolate, but with some zing towards the end. One thing's for sure, though. Sapporo chocolates definitely taste much better than a lot of the rhum chocolates i've tasted.

It's so good, i'll say cheers to that!

A little miss and a little miffed

As early as last night, I was googling the list of Academy Awards nominees in the hope that someone would've leaked information and put it on the net. (Much like spoilers.) But alas, there was none, and like the rest of the world, I had to wait until this morning for the official names to be announced.

And yes! Two of my uber faves made the cut!

"Little Miss Sunshine" is in the running as Best Picture. Compared to the other nominees, this film is a minute speck in Hollyworld. It has no big stars, not a big budget, and no big bang when it was released. But what it has is a big heart. After watching this film last December, the film enchanted me. What is it about holiday movies and dysfunctional families. In 2005, it was "The Family Stone" and now this.

Abigail Breslin, the wonderful little girl who played Olive in the film was also nominated as Best Supporting Actress. It would be nice to see her win, and i'm sure it would bring back memories of Anna Paquin's winning moment for "The Piano." Unfortunately, she's up against another one of my favorite actresses of all time!

Yes again! Cate Blanchett is nominated for her performance in "Notes of a Scandal." I haven't watched the film yet since it hasn't been shown here in HK. Then again, even if I haven't seen the film, Cate must have been stellar in it. She's one of my favorite actresses since watching "Elizabeth." She totally deserved the Best Actress oscar that year, and I was saddened by how the political machinery favored Gwyneth Paltrow's ho-hum performance. Hopefully, Cate wins again this year so she'll have her 2nd Oscar. And maybe next year, she'll get her well-deserved Best Actress trophy. (The sequel to "Elizabeth" is supposed to come out later this year, and her performance is supposed to equal - if not surpass - the first movie's acting.)

This put a little zing in my day which was otherwise blah. My friend and I were talking awhile ago about a predicament she has and just hearing about it got me a bit miffed, too. She posed this very intriguing and crisp question: Go on or give up? Now that's something to pore over.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Show 'em, girl!

Ovvian and I were just talking about this a few months back while having a few drinks at the Conrad. She was telling me about her planned one-woman show at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati, and how it all began with doing a few sculptures for their lobby and their Chinese restaurant. In her usual, passionate way, she told me about the sculptures she'll be doing and how this show will open up the world to her art. And it's about time. The world (ok, i'm getting carried away. The Philippines) should see the magic she creates with metal. I've always been attracted to metal sculptures and how you create something warm and fluid with a material that's known to be cold and hard.

I've seen a couple of her sketches, and some of the really nice belts she did, and if that's a preview of what i'll be seeing in this show, then i'm SO there! Now there's another thing to look forward to on my next visit to Manila.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Mondays can be taxing...

Especially since I had to pay my tax this morning. While I was writing the check, all I could think of was: "How many trips back to Manila could I have taken with this money? A lot!" Then my mind shifted and thought: "Heck! How many jeans could I have bought with this money? A whole friggin' lot!"

But hey, it felt like such an adult thing to do. And i'm glad I did. Although I must say, I miss Marge and the finance department back in Manila. They always handled all my tax requirements - including those wonderful reimbursements they give me every month.

And in other random and non-tax related developments:

1. I finally found my cousin Nene's blog! Nene and I were major pen pals way back in 1980-something P.I. (Pre-internet.) I can still remember how nice Nene's handwriting is, and how we'd end our letters with sentences constructed from pop songs. Like: "I'll wait for your next letter 'All through the Night' and i'll be asking 'Mr. Postman' to make sure that your letter will 'Get Here' because 'I'm so excited' that 'I can't fight this feeling anymore.'" We had a lot of fun doing that.

"All through the night" by Cyndi Lauper
"Mr. Postman" by The Carpenters
"Get Here" by Oleta Adams
"I'm so excited" by The Pointer Sisters
"I can't fight this feeling anymore" by REO Speedwagon.

Now, I can keep tabs on what's happening to her and the Kwong Dynasty. Reading through some of her entries made me miss my cousins back in California.

2. After scanning through Nene's blog, I learned that my Great-Great-Great Grandfather's name was Roque, my Great-Great Grandfather's name was Santiago, my Great Grandfather's name was Felipe and of course, I know my Grandfather Teodoro, or Lolo Doring as we fondly call him. They have such Castillian sounding names.

3. Auntie Tita really looks like Mom. I was looking at a photo of her, and had to do a double take because for a minute there, I thought it was Mom.

4. I'm wearing the pair of shoes that was given to me as a gift, and they're very, very, very nice. Some pairs of shoes are like clothes. You have to wear them to realize how nice they really are.

5. It's really difficult to have a teleconference with the Thailand office since my English skills are reduced to Neandertal proportions. "This... not clear... don't understand... maybe shorter... that's good..." And yes, I will have to meet with them again tomorrow morning at 10! "This... very bad..."

6. The SHK Building in Wan Chai still has their Christmas decorations up. People! It's almost February! You can at least put a cupid's arrow around Santa's chest to make it look a bit more updated.

7. Orange trees are sprouting all over our office building and those gargantuanormous red lanterns are starting to descend from the ceiling - and that only means one thing: Chinese New Year! Bring on the lai-sees! Woohoo!

8. Yesterday, I bought a couple of funky looking jeans for Javier. There's a pair from Zara, and a pair from Roca Wear which has a built in belt. That little boy is going to grow up a jean addict just like his Tito. I miss Javier. I miss my family.

9. I miss Mark. I think i'll grab an ice cream later. And yes, it's confirmed that they've discontinued Cherry Garcia in HK.

10. After checking the calendar, I realized i've only been back in HK for 17 days. Strangely, though, it feels longer than that. Ah yes, that's what happens when you "live" in another country but don't stay longer than 8 weeks.

Ah yes, the work day is over. I promised myself a "post-tax-treat" tonight, and it's about time to go out and get it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dragging ball zzzzz

Just finished watching "Marie Antoinette" and I must say that the reviews were correct this time. After the pomp, pageantry and fabulous production design, this film really hasn't got anything more going for it.

Unlike "Elizabeth" which gave me a glimpse of why Queen Elizabeth "transformed" to what she is, this film just showed Marie Antoinette in a "rich girl, poor girl" point of view. After watching it, I didn't even empathize with Marie Antoinette, and it left me with no feelings for her.

As one of the reviews said: "It's like watching a masquerade ball for more than 2 hours." And it certainly felt that way.

The only two bits that spiced up the film were: Kirsten Dunst and a misplaced Converse Chuck Taylor in one of the scenes. Knowing how quirky Sofia Coppola was, i'm sure she did that on purpose.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Nice package

Peter knows how much i'm fascinated with funky packaging, that's why he surprised me with these little babies:

He came back from Thailand recently, and was aimlessly wandering around a supermarket when these caught his eye. They're a local brand of prickly heat powder and is one of the best sellers. I wouldn't be surprised because i'd buy it for the packaging alone.

It comes in a nice tin can with this retro-esque graphic of a snake. Even the fonts are SO old, they actually look new! At first glance, this product looks like it belongs to a small, neighbourhood dispensary during the mid-60s. I can even imagine an old, 70-ish bald man with thick spectacles and a long, white coat manning the dispensary and selling this to me.

Most of my friends say that a lot of the nice packaging come from Japan because they like to create these funky, modern looking shapes. But after recalling all the product packages that I like, my tastes gravitate more towards the classic, simple and vintage packs like white tin cans with minimum graphics.

I guess i'm just old fashioned that way.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

One language, 4 ways

Today I've had meetings with 4 of our offices:

Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

All the meetings were conducted in English, but what was peculiar was the fact that I had to speak the same language in 4 different ways. From the pronounciation, inunciation, even the choice of words.

I'd say "Mum" for Australia, "Mommy" for the Philippines, and "Mother" for both Thailand and Malaysia.

I used the word "disdain" which the Australians easily understood. I switched it to "despise" which the Philippines got. Then for Malaysia, "disgusted" was the word they got. (Although the meaning was a tad bit different.) And for Thailand, I had to settle with "she has a bad reaction on her face." (Which they got.)

Even my accent was affected by the people I was talking to. Unconsciously, I was saying "glaaass" when I was conversing with Robbie in Sydney. I was saying vowels in a very breathy way like the Thais during the teleconference with the Bangkok office.

This makes me wonder which "English" was normal. Is it the "American" English that most of the world speaks and the Philippines has been accustomed to? Or is it the "British" way of speaking. A Brit friend of mine once said that world should speak English the British way. To quote him, he said: "If you notice, the language is called 'English' and not 'American'." Suddenly, I miss Kin who speaks wonderful English with a British tone.

Thank goodness we didn't have meetings with the French and Indian offices today, that would necessitate another TOTAL change of tone and pronounciation. Eef I zpeak vid zee ofiss een Frans, I'd hav to zpeak like zeees.

Gosh, I can imagine my English being so confused after this.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Flashbacks and Mysteries solved

After today's series of meetings, this quote from my former client came to mind.

"It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys."

I remember that single phrase made me laugh from Marilao to Makati.

RPS is such a wise man. Hahaha.

And yes, the mystery is solved. Mark told me that he sent this through that booth near Glorietta, which I suspect was Mail Station. They must have a pretty peculiar mailing system.

Mail Appreciation

Our secretary handed me a letter when I got back from lunch. It was a mysterious one because the return address was blacked out, there was no Hong Kong postmark, and it came from Singapore but didn't have a stamp from good 'ole SG.

When I opened it, it was a letter from Mark.

Now I've got to write to him and try to find some answers. But the mysteries nonwithstanding, I'm thrilled to receive this letter from him. Snail mail always makes me smile. And this one made me smile even more.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Today's bits of Funny Things

1. Another Funny Name

First, it was bottled water named "Wahaha." Now, I found this:

Yup, it's a chocolate bar named "Galak." It makes me wonder what is it with Chinese consumers and funny names. In any case, I wish they had this product in the Manila, and I wish I were the one doing advertising for it. I already have a slogan for it:

"Matutuwa ka sa... GALAK!"

(Sir Conrad will be so proud of me. Hahaha.)

2. The Case of the sleeping proofreader

Yup, someone was definitely sleeping on the job.

3. Race = Space

We were at the client's office holed up in a small conference room. There were 5 of us: me, an Aussie, an American, a Brit and a Swede. A few minutes later, the secretary comes in. She and my Brit colleague had this conversation:

SECRETARY: Would you like to transfer to the big conference room?
BRIT: I thought it was occupied...
SECRETARY: It is. But they can transfer here while you move there.
BRIT: Why? How many people are there now?
BRIT: Then why should they transfer? There are only 5 of us and 7 of them?
SECRETARY: It's because you're 5 Westerners and they're 7 Chinese. Chinese people can easily fit in small spaces.

Hmmm... the girl does make sense, you know.

4. Dreams

I dreamt of my old colleague, Mike. Yup, he of the "Lester, come here and let me buy you a drink" and "Whattahum" fiasco. Just seeing him after so many years - albeit in a dream - is already a reason to laugh.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Prints Charming

Yup, Keat would hate me for using another pun for a headline, but really, this is the best way to describe it.

Thanks to shops like Papyrus, I'm having an on-going love affair with paper products. Whenever I visit their store at IFC, Harbour City or Times Square, I usually walk out with a couple of boxes of paper: blank cards by Crane's, thank you cards by Gibson's, or a roll of chocolate brown wrapping paper.

A few months ago, another shop opened in Hong Kong, and it did nothing but add so much fire to my already burning passion for paper.

That store is called Prints.

Prints is a Singapore-based specialty paper company that sells cards, gift wrappers and journals. The first time I saw their products was when I wandered into their store while maneuvering the complex subway network in Raffles City. Immediately, I was drawn in and spent hours just poring over each wrapper - marveling at the funky designs and the unexpected combination of colors. For gift wrappers, they were a bit pricey - but I really don't mind spending on paper.

When Prints opened their first store in Harbour City last September, it was like the clouds parted and a chorus sang: "Hallelujah!" After 2 years of being separated from this wonderful paper brand, we were reunited again. That day alone, I spent more than $200 on wrapping paper! And from then on, the drive to buy and wrap gifts went into overdrive.

Recently, Prints introduced their new designs, and they also had a new product - double sided wrapping paper. My papermania manifested itself, and I bought a couple of things.

First, I bought this mocha-coloured paper with a diamond design. The pattern was made using a combination of white, purple and orange lines:

Using this paper, along with purple and orange ribbons, I wrapped my New Year's gift to Mark. (He told me he received it already, so it's safe to put the photo here now.)

My next purchase was a double-sided wrapper, and among the lot that was there, this was the most eyecatching.

One side features a bronze base, with a black, leafy pattern. The pattern was big and bold, which made the paper almost textile-like. In fact, I remember my sister has a Zara dress with a similar print.

The other side was plain, with a deep, purple colour. The hue was so rich, could stand on its own.

With the help of purple and black ribbons, this double sided wonder was transformed into an eye-catching gift. After looking at the final result, part of me wanted to keep the gift for myself. But then again, I still have a sheet of this same paper, so maybe i'll just wrap another box and put it on display. Hehehe.

I can't wait to see what Prints will come up with next.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The best holiday in a long while

"Love Acutally" has officially been dislodged as THE holiday romantic comedy to watch.

Thanks to this little gem by Nancy Meyers:

"The Holiday" wasn't really on my list of must-see-movies, largely because I read 2 not-so-good reviews about it. The common reaction was it was too long for a rom-com. It went past the 2-hour mark, which isn't good in Hollywood. Another review called it a movie that's "Adorable as it's Predictable." Not a very nice catch line, and not a very encouraging sign.

But today - due to the intense prodding of a friend - I found myself at the theater watching it. Thank goodness I let myself be prodded. "The Holiday" is a fantastic romantic movie. The script by Nancy Meyers is brilliant! Beautiful! Heartfelt! Real!

Ok, enough...

It was peppered with universal truths about love and relationships, and the characters she created were so real, they could be sitting right beside us. (And they could've. Really.) My favorite bit was when Graham finally professed how he felt for Amanda, and launched into this wonderful monologue that spoke of so many realities. I found myself nodding the entire time.

Another fantastic thing about this film's writing was that it made me laugh. And it wasn't the "tee-hee" kind of laugh but the "guffaw, guffaw" variety. It's been a while since I last laughed at a film's script. (Most of the time, it's because of some slapstick scene, frustration or just plain bad acting.) So it's novel to find a film that has a cleverly funny script. I loved the parts when the "Hollywood Trailer Voice" would butt in and talk about Amanda's life.

The performances also helped. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet were acting like their usual romantic-neurotic selves, so no surprise there. They delivered the goods that they're used to delivering. Jack Black, despite showing a lot of sensitivity and emotion, still had a lot of "Jack Black" moments. (This made me feel like I was watching "Tenacious D" all over again.) Elli Wallach was wonderful, and he made me miss my Lolo Iking all of a sudden. But it was Jude Law who turned in the most sensitive performance, making him the most convincing of the lot.

His best bit would be the part when Amanda has a change of heart and decides to go back to Rosehill Cottage to tell Grant that she loves him. The emotional state she caught grant in was classic. Genius acting by Jude Law.

The film's ending - just like what the review said - is adorable but predictable. But then again, that's what love usually is like.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The sum of its parts

Black shirt
Leather jacket
Knuckle with a band-aid
Small cut on forehead
= "You've definitely got the 'rugged-looking leading man' role down pat today."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

In a class of its own

After 4 years, the Adformatix alumni are ready for their class picture.

Yes, the last time we did this was around 4 years ago when Rachelle was flying off and moving to Australia. That portrait - taken by Xander Angeles - was our big souvenir and going away present. After all the oohs and ahhs, we made a vow to have another portrait once everyone is in Manila again.

A lot has happened within those 4 years: Claire and Oboy got married then eventually moved to New Jersey, Rommel and I were posted abroad, we had 5 Christmas parties for streetkids, and of course, Rachelle had Seb, her long awaited baby boy.

Christmas 2006 was special because everyone agreed to come home to accomplish 3 things: 1. See Seb, 2. Throw the traditional streetkids Christmas party with everyone in attendance, and 3. Have our reunion portrait taken. A month before the red letter dates, emails were already flying all around asking for details, inquiring about the beneficiaries (who can forget the "Bilibid Prison fiasco", and more importantly, what were we going to wear for the class portrait.

After a long discussion thread, we decided on this "just come as whatever you want" theme Since everyone was from advertising, it was no surprise that people did come as "whatever." Just like our personalities, the outfits were diverse, spontaneous, mish-mashed and downright insane. Efren, the photographer, was wide eyed and laughing the entire time because we were like a bunch of people who had too much Prozac. No one sat still, people were bouncing off walls, and more importantly, everybody was unmistakably happy.

Why wouldn't we be? After 4 years, 13 good friends now spread in 4 different countries have finally gathered to celebrate a friendship that has spanned more than a decade. And that's no ordinary friendship - it's a friendship that's picture perfect.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The cutting edge

For reasons unbeknownst to me, I found a small cut on my hand and one near my forehead this morning. If I dreamt that Wolverine and I were having a face-off, I'd understand where these came from. Hahaha. They're actually very minute cuts, but I decided to cover them up with band-aids just so they're protected.

Now my colleagues are teasing me: "Our little boy has boo-boos on his hand. Which playground did you get those from?"

(Hahaha. That's just hilarious, guys.)

Oh, they recorded my voice as guide track for one of the AVPs they're presenting to client tomorrow. And the producer told me I could do this professionally. (I wonder if someone is looking for a Daffy Duck sound-alike. That would be perfect.)


Indeed, this 4-letter word is bound to wreak havoc on our wallets and credit cards. Anticipating the entry of spring, most retailers in Hong Kong have brought out their SALE signs, and it's commonplace to see stores packed with people even during lunch break. Of course, I'm among those people.

This sale sign is even bigger doom because it's located in front of another very important 4-letter word:

Yup, Zara! Judging by Arnie's account, it looks like Zara is also on sale in Manila. Zara sales in Hong Kong are like Kamiseta and Bayo sales in Manila. You can expect people elbowing each other for that last dress, and most of the racks look like they've been hit by a hurricane. That's how the stores in Times Square and Pacific Place look like. I've seen that wool dress that I wanted to get for Ate Bullet - and it's on sale! Then again, it's just the 2nd week of the sale and i'm expecting the prices to drop some more the next few days. That's one of the things I've learned after almost 2 years of living here: Don't buy until you see 3 price changes!

Cecile couldn't help herself, though. She ended up buying a pair of sparkly red shoes which she fondly calls "Dorothy's slippers." Since the one on the rack was the last piece and was exactly her size, she immediately snapped it up. For a Zara shoe at that price, i'd say it was a great buy.

By the 3rd week of January, the stores will have their final reductions and prices will go down up to 70% off. That's impending trouble for my wallet.

Then again, i've always had an appetite for trouble.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Christmas on hindsight

Over lunch yesterday, I received yet another belated Christmas gift! (Whoopee!)

It was a new pair of shoes from Zara! They're casual, trainer-style rubber shoes in blue. The nice thing about it is that the color actually changes with the light source. When viewed under a fluorescent light, it looks like it's Navy Blue. But when viewed under sunlight, it turns Teal. It's like getting two pairs of shoes! Hahaha. Thankfully, they fit me perfectly, and i'll probably give them a test run this week.

Getting this pair reminded me of another thing I would've wanted to get last Christmas: a new pair of black Chuck Taylors. My 2 Chucks (one in HK, one in Manila) are both ripped and about to give up. Ergo, a replacement is really long overdue. Whenever I wander into a Converse store in Manila, I always check out - but forget to buy - a new pair. Well, there's always the next trip home.

That's the thing with me and Christmas. Often, because i'm so engrossed with shopping for gifts for friends and family, I often don't think about what gift I want to get. Every year, friends and family ask me: "What do you want for Christmas?" and my usual answer would be: "Anything would be fine." After all, I prefer to give than to receive, so any gift I get makes me happy. Then, when the holiday smoke settles, I begin to think: "Hey, I should've asked for (insert item here) from (insert person here.)"

I've received a lot of cool gifts last Christmas, and that includes THE major, uber gift that really matters. On hindsight, though, a pair of black Chuck Taylors would be nice to get, too. Plus an iPod. And a new leather passport holder.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The year in review

When I was still working in San Miguel, one of my favorite things to do was to produce their Year-in-Review special. I think it's a great exercise to look back at the year that was and savor the highlights, as well as be aware of the flubs so that it won't be repeated in the coming year. My first foray into producing the YIR was the highly successful "Saksi sa SMC" where we got Arnold Clavio and Karen Davila to anchor.

Now that the holiday rush is over, I look back at the year that was and remember all the events that made it such a wonderful and memorable year for me. Ergo, i'm making my own year-in-review. But instead of segregating it by months, I decided to just make a list of all these highlights. Honestly, it was such an eventful year that I can probably list 500 things that made this year awesome. Then, I wanted to make it 365 so that it's one memorable thing a day. But for the sake of brevity, I've narrowed it down to 100, just because it's a good number.

And here's how wonderful my year has been:


1. My parents’ 40th anniversary surprise wedding party
2. Biboy’s surprise homecoming for the occasion that made Daddy teary-eyed
3. The birth of Enrique Javier
4. Flying to Japan to surprise Mark on his birthday
5. Seeing Mark’s surprised face when he opened his dorm door.
6. Joannah’s uber beautiful and ultra fun wedding
7. Spending our first Christmas together
8. My ad making the cover of Campaign Brief Asia
9. Drinking spree with my Siblings on the last day of the year
10. Melrose Christmas Party for Streetkids
11. The endless slew of Christmas Reunions
12. Tokyo
13. Shanghai
14. Urasa
15. Dalian
16. Wuhan
17. Qingdao
18. Bangkok
19. Osaka
20. Kyoto
21. Macau
22. Talking about the future at the 2nd floor of Starbucks 6750
23. Bonique announcing her engagement to Vince
24. Getting a visit from Fiesta, Lisa and Arnie in Hong Kong
25. Tanya’s first pregnancy and baby
26. Watching Brokeback Mountain
27. Getting a finalist certificate at Ad Asia
28. Hanging out with Ovvian
29. Fernan and lara moving to Hong Kong
30. Having my first official houseguests: Joey and John
31. Having my second official houseguests: Lisa and Arnie
32. Eating at restaurants in Japan: Saizeriya, Bubba Gump and of course, McDonald's
33. Watching Tristan and Isolde
34. Seeing Joannah in Hong Kong, twice!
35. Spending the night at Discovery Suites
36. Meeting Kuya Obet and his family
37. Running into Ann at Central
38. Lunch with Larry and Timothy in Hong Kong
39. First Foray into on-line shopping (American Eagle! Woohoo!)
40. First Chinese New Year in Hong Kong
41. Launched my first ad in Thailand (Protex Propolis) with excellent results
42. Making two ads for Ricky Reyes
43. Getting a Christmas gift from Ricky
44. Getting locked out of my flat and paying $500 to get in
45. “Of course I know you. Who doesn’t know Lester.”
46. Riding a MagLev Train
47. Maneuvering Shanghai’s subways alone
48. Watching “Just Friends” twice – Greenbelt, then Asian Mansions
49. Helping out a homesick Pinay in Church
50. Bringing home little surprises for friends
51. Eula’s performance in “Rekados”
52. Going to Tokyo Disneyland. I've seen all 5 Disney parks. Woohoo!
53. Showing around a group of Romanian tourists (and getting a shirt as thanks.)
54. Cathay Pacific's Lounge at Chek Lap Kok
55. Discovering Stitch’s Jeans
56. Working with KC again
57. Hong Kong’s efficient Postal system
58. Sending packages to Japan
59. Guessing Arnie’s shoe size, and getting it right on the money
60. Finally eating at A Venetto! With Mark.
61. Jela’s first birthday party
62. Being mistaken for a foreigner for the thousandth time
63. My blog going on to year two
64. “You should add ‘genius’ to your business card.”
65. Hanging out with Kawei, Shahreena and the rest of the SG crew
66. Melrose Reunion Pictorial (our first after more than 4 years.)
67. Visiting Russia town in Dalian
68. Ice cream with Arnie at Salcedo Market
69. The memories attached to X-Men 3
70. Hanging out with Kin and the CAO people more often
71. Inside Man’s mind twisting story
72. Malvin’s bible
73. Reese’s convincing performance in “Walk the Line”
74. Ice Age 2 followed by dinner at CPK
75. Hanging out with Direk Mark, Cecile and Direk Simon in HK
76. Finally using “bongga ka ‘day” in a commercial with Iya
77. Being called an artista by a real artista
78. Receiving Lai-sees
79. Being hugged by a stranger on the train
80. Running into Claire at the Hong Kong airport
81. “Oh my Gosh”
82. Hugs from people you love
83. Kisses from the person you love
84. A Thai star calling me a Mexican telenovela actor
85. “Your gift wrappers are fabulous.”
86. Letters from Hazel and Christine
87. And Marcus Jose makes three for Elsie and Mac!
88. Getting to work with Mel and Lizzie more often
89. Seeing Ningning Po and Cousin Gemma at Unitel after so many years
90. Meeting Jingle in Yotsuya, of all places!
91. Bringing Lizzie to Snoopy Land
92. Running into familiar faces when you least expect it.
93. Rediscovering Stanley Market
94. Going to DFA for the first time in my entire life and discovering that it isn’t that too traumatic and experience
95. Being given a really nice leather jacket as a gift
96. Being given a pair of Adidas shoes for no reason at all
97. Long, leisurely walks in Japan
98. Being smiled at by a real Geisha
99. Getting postcards from all over the world
100. Completing my Christmas shopping early this year

Given all these events and little oddities, my reaction to this year would be the same one i'd say whenever the Shigmeister offers me a glass of wine:

"It's a good year. A really, really good year."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Today's Cheap Thrills and other random stuff

Cheap thrills

1. Sat beside and talked to an honest-to-goodness model.

While on the tram from Central to Causeway Bay, this glamazonian model sat beside me. She was about my height, had long, wavy blonde hair and had features so sharp that it could cut cheese. I think she was pulling something out of her pocket when her portfolio fell from her lap and on to the tram floor. Being the nice guy, I picked it up and handed it over to her.

MODEL: Thank you.
ME: No worries. Is that your book?
MODEL: Yes! How do you know about books? Are you a model, too?
ME: Nope. I've just been watching too many episodes of America's Next Top Model.

From our short conversation, I gathered that her name was Netalya, she's Russian but was raised in France, and had runway experience in Hong Kong and Singapore. She said that the easiest way to break in was to work in Asia, then work your way up to Europe, then in New York. When asked why she doesn't try to model in the Philippines, she quickly replied: "But that's the territory of Brazilians."

Netalya was right. Three of the models I worked with in Manila were all Brazilians. They come to Manila with only a book and a lot of guts, and it eventually pays off. (Well, at least it did for Priscilla and Ariani who now have shampoo commercials.)

I hope she makes it big and fulfills her dream to walk for Donatella Versace at the New York Fashion Week. When that happens and her face is splashed all over Vogue and Elle, I can buy a copy and say: "I sat beside and talked to this girl once."

2. Bought a Bananarama CD.

Danilo had a CD like this once, and I remember him playing it in his car on our drive home. Bananarama was one of the biggest girl groups in the 80s and they have a slew of feel good and dance worthy songs. My all-time favorite is "Robert de Niro's waiting." I'm going to play that song the whole night until I fall asleep.

3. Shopped.

Yup, this is proof how much of a shopping paradise Hong Kong is. I've only been back for a day, and I've already bought a number of stuff. Some magazines, a couple of shirts, and the abovementioned CD.

Dropped by Isuma tonight and saw to gor-ge-ous black patent shoes that I'm sure my sisters would love. The important thing to note about these shoes is that they came with a very affordable price tag. So I did what any nice, little brother would do. I bought them!

Random stuff

1. Last night, I was so tired from work and the early morning flight, I fell asleep the moment I plopped onto my bed at around 9pm. Woke up at 6am, only to change clothes and wash up, then slept for a few more hours.

2. Mark is back in Japan. Got to talk to him before he flew out from HK airport. Normally, three weeks is a relatively long time, but this one just flew right by us.

3. After 3 weeks in Manila's lovely tropical weather, I'm back to 10-degree-land. That means back to sleeping in pajama pants, long sleeved tees and socks. Brrrr...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Change of heart

This is so cool.

They just gave me a citation and an incentive here at work.

Ok... Now i'm glad to be back.

Very glad to be back.

Back in the saddle again

The perpetually perky and excellent business class service at CX wasn't enough to distract me from the fact that my vacation was over and i'm flying back to Hong Kong and resume work an hour after touchdown. Even my 2 favorite shows: The Catherine Tate Show and Instant Beauty pageant failed to elicit a few laughs from me.

After less than two hours, reality was staring me right in the eye. Yes, I'm back.

Back at the airport that took a joyous me back to Manila less almost 3 weeks ago.

Back taking the train that efficiently and quickly brings me back home.

Back to waiting for a cab to take me to Austin Road.

Back to the office where emails and storyboards await.

Back to my office on the 33rd floor with a nice view of Causeway Bay and a bit of the Harbour.

Back at my desk.... and whining about being back.

(While i'm checking 3 storyboards, 2 print ads and 2 edit downs. Yup... I'm definitely back!)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

And the giving never stops...

It's already the 3rd of January, and i'm still giving out gifts!

Met up with Joannah, Jeff and their Mom this afternoon at Glorietta to hand over my gifts to Jeff's family and Jo's friends. The gifts I gave them followed my second gift wrapping theme this year which is: Sparkling and White Christmas.

The base of this creation is a white and silver gift wrapper which I got from Ikea. It was actually a steal! (5 rolls for HK$50!) Then I used two satin ribbons to give the present a clean yet festive feel.

Of course, it needed a bit of an accent to break the monotony of white. And I chose a silver Christmas ball. There were two versions, a matte one and a shiny one. They both look good and the "silver on white on white" concept works.

Some of my smart-alecky friends insist that they're wedding presents masquerading as Christmas gifts. But most of the people who got it said that it can give Marks and Sparks a run for its money anytime.

Ah yes! Wrapping is definitely a big part of the joy of gift giving.