Monday, April 30, 2007

Joke for the (end of the) day

This conversation ended my work day with a big laugh.

ME: Hey Jeff, have you seen the movie "Deja Vu?"

JEFF: Hmmmm... why do I feel that i've seen that before...

Short, crisp and with great comic timing. This is how jokes should be written.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sweet as Hanae

Sometimes, the most ordinary routines bring the most extraordinary of surprises.

Yesterday, I paid my electric bill at the CLP branch near Yau Ma Tei, and since Mongkok was just nearby, I thought of making a quick stop to see if there's anything new and interesting. There were only two stops planned: the kids clothes store and the vintage shop.

The trip to kiddie land wasn't very exciting. Nothing new or worth writing about. Just when I thought that the vintage shop would be similarly uneventful, imagine my surprise when this caught my eye.

An authentic, vintage Hanae Mori original! And in perfect condition at that! Hanae Mori was one of Tokyo's women pioneers in design - just like Coco Chanel. She was one of the first Japanese designers who carved a niche for herself in New York, and paved the way for other Japanese designers to make it internationally.

Since my sister is into vintage clothes these days, this Hanae Mori went straight from the rack to my bag. The dress has that Jackie O vibe to it, and that suits my sister's personality very well.

Finding a Hanae in the most unexpected places. Now that's sweet!

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Gosh! This is the third pack of Hello Panda that i've eaten today. I've had this snack before - and actually enjoy all three flavours. Strawberry is on the top of my list, followed by chocolate and milk is on the 3rd rung. But the past few days, I've been noshing on it more and more.

From 2 packs a week, then going to 1 pack a day, to the current record of 3 packs a day! I might find myself checking into Hello Pandaholics Anonymous sometime soon. Another strange thing is that i'm suddenly drawn to the the chocolate variant more and more. Each panda is just bursting with chocolatey goodness - which makes it ideal for a snack whether it's mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Heck, it's even good as an after lunch dessert!

(Still, it's no match for my favourite dessert from Mark.)

If I wake up one day looking big and furry with dark circles around my eyes, that just means i've been Hello Panda-fied.

(Wait a minute, I already have dark circles around my eyes. That shouldn't count.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Vous allez la fille!


Segolene Royale made it to the Presidential run-off in France. For a minute there, I thought Bayrou would pull some aces from his sleeves and make it to number 2. Looks like his strategy of courting undecided voters wasn't as successful. Now it's up to Segolene and Nicholas to try and gather as much votes from Bayrou and win the Presidential elections.

I do hope Segolene wins. It seems like all over the world, women are taking the highest seats of power. Within the EU, Segolene will follow Angela Merkel and it would be interesting to see how "woman power" will help direct the Union. And if the reports I read in the papers are true, it looks like Hilary Clinton might be the next Commander-in-Chief of the US. (If that happens, then Geena Davis' series becomes art imitating life.)

Bon de chance Mademoiselle Royale. J'espère que vous gagnez.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Back to Banks

Yes! America's Next Top Model Cycle 8 is back on TVB Pearl. Was able to watch the pilot episode last night and I really like Sarah and Jaslene. Too bad Sarah has been eliminated already, and i'm looking forward to seeing Jaslene on the final 2. As she said in her interview: "I want to be the first Latina winner of America's Next Top Model!"

Yo quiero voy alli.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mexxed out weekend

This weekend was like a trip back to 2003 when I was in Mexico. For some strange reason, I indulged my hunger for all things "Mexican" these past 2 days, and i'm feeling kinda mexxed out.

Mexican Food!

Melvin and I have long planned a lunch at Taco Bell Grande, and we finally went there yesterday. Of course, they don't have that restaurant here in Hong Kong, so I had to go all the way to Shenzhen, China to do that.

(Now that's something that you don't do everyday. Go to China for lunch! It's like: "Hmmmm... I think I'll go to China and have lunch today." Strange, but true.)

Unlike Taco Bell in Manila, the Taco Bell Restaurant is a sit-down, proper dining kind of place. The interiors remind me of those Mexican restaurants in Tampico and San Luis Potosi - yellow ochre walls, tiled patterns and Frida-esque paintings, dark wood tables with more tile details, and brightly coloured plates in orange and lime green.

(It also reminds me of Tequila Joe's! I miss that restaurant.)

Melvin and I had a big meal of chicken fajitas, tortillas, tostadas, chicken wings, tortilla soup, and a salmon salad with blue cheese dressing. The fajitas were great, but my favorite was the salad. Although that's not an authentic Mexican dish. So maybe it doesn't count.

Mexican TV

Another Mexican-inspired thing I did yesterday was to buy the boxed set of that hit American TV show - Ugly Betty. In this series, the protagonist is an immigrant from Mexico named "Betty", and she lives in a New York suburb with her very Mexican family, "Ignacio" (el Padre) and "Hilda" (la Hermana.)

The original wasn't set in Mexico or didn't feature a Mexican lead character, though. The original show was called "Betty La Fea," and it was shown on channel 7 some years back. If I remember correctly, it was even Chin-chin Gutierrez who voiced one of the characters. That series was made and set in Colombia, but had the same ugly duckling character who worked for a fashion company called Eco Moda.

The American version is funny because they've fused the original plot with shades of "Devil Wears Prada." The scene for the series is Mode Magazine - a Vogue-esque type of publication complete with a former editor-in-chief who wears an Anna Wintour bob, and special appearances of "the book." whenever I watch each episode on TV, it never fails to make me chuckle. Now, I don't have to wait for the series to finish on TV, I can finish the entire box this week. I hope.

It's too bad that they don't have Gorditas, Pinguinos, Choco-Lala and Molotov here or in China. If they did, then my Mexican weekend would really, really, REALL be complete.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Call of Nature

One thing that I was fortunate enough to do during my Holy Week in Manila was to heed the call on nature again. (No, i'm not talking about the type that sends you to those shocking pink stalls along EDSA.) Mona was generous enough to host Easter Monday lunch at their garden in Marikina, and it was such a relaxing experience to eat amidst old trees, clean air (compared to the air here in HK, the air there was pristine), and fresh, home-cooked meals. We feasted on the pinaupong manok, grilled tilapia, and sotanghon that Mona's mom prepared for us, and of course, there was Mangoes and Bagoong.

During the course of our mango eating, Lezyl noticed the Indian Mango tree nearby and how it was teeming with fruits. All Mona needed to do was point out where the pang-sungkit was, and the quest for mangoes began.

Being the designated "sungkit person" reminded me of my childhood back in our house in Tomas Morato. Our neighbour's santol tree had branches extending to our roof, and they'd let us pick santol - as long as it was just the fruits on our side. Our boy - Badong (Badong... that name is so boy. Hahaha.) would make the pang-sungkit and i'd be the one who'd do the actual picking. It looks like I haven't lost the touch because Grace was telling me that I'm an expert at it.

How many mangoes did I get? I'm not exactly sure, but it was enough for Lezyl and Grace to bring home, and there were still some left over for us to eat back at the gazebo. Here's Grace collecting her fresh, crunchy Indian Mangoes:

True to our "nature trip" theme that day, Mona and I decided to peel some of the produce and serve it on the spot. After my futile attempts at peeling, Mona decided to finish off the job. And she did it much, much faster than I did. (Well, I'm more of a sungkit person than a peel person.)

But one thing I can do easily is to slice and dice, so that job went to me. The mangoes were a joy to slice because they're very crunchy and the knife just glides through them. The mangoes tasted just right - not too sour, and not sweet either. It was perfect for the bagoong.

The quest for mangoes was followed by the hunt for Easter Eggs. What's Easter Monday without an egg hunt, right? For the next 15 to 20 minutes, the gang became little tykes searching every bush and every tree for one. It took them a while to find each of the 36 or so eggs that Grace and I hid, but their efforts were rewarded.

Lezyl took home the Lion's share - or maybe I should say "rabbit's share" of the eggs and got the prize she wanted. It was a toy cat that said "I love you" each time you pressed its tummy. She's been eyeing that prize since the 1st minute because she wanted to bring it home to Ming Tsai - her adorable cattater!

Vince has two eggs! (We can all see that now.)

We also found out that this was Bonique's first time to go Easter Egg hunting which added to the thrill. Her initial salvo was rewarded as she walked away with the "grand prize" - an Indian-inspired Esprit sling bag.

The other gang members went home with sweets that could compete with a trick or treat bag. Wena went home with a couple of boxes of chocolates and a few mallow pops. (And a pair of hooks that Grace brought, too.)

This garden party (which Lezyl called an excursion because it was in Marikina) definitely made my Holy Week homecoming a memorable one. And because of all the fun we had at Mona's, I'm going to suggest that we make Mona's Garden the D' official Garden Party Place* of D' Frendz.

*Grace's place remains D' Official Party Place of D' Frendz.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Here's something you don't hear everyday

Last night, I had dinner at Triple Os and it was the Veggie Burger on the menu. Ever since I was a kid, I'd often eat the lettuce and tomatoes first before digging into the actual sandwich, and true to that habit, that's what I did.

After finishing the vegetables and while eating the actual burger, I heard this voice from my right side saying:

"Would you like my tomato?"

Not entirely sure if I was the person being spoken to, I looked to my right and saw my seatmate was indeed looking at and talking to me. She asked again:

"Would you like my tomato?"

My mind must've been on dial-up that moment, or maybe I'm just not used to being offered fresh produce by complete strangers, but it took me a bit of time to react. And all the reaction she got out of me was a smile and a silent: "why?"

Then she explained:

"I just noticed that you like tomatoes a lot, and I don't eat tomatoes - I actually hate them. So I thought, maybe you'd like them. Do you?"

Overwhelmed by too much information, all I could say was:


So I got more veggies than I bargained for last night. Aside from the ones that they ground and formed into the patty, I had four extra large slices of ripe, juicy tomatoes. It's not everyday that I have so much veggies in one meal. Then again, it's not everyday that some pretty, blonde and tomato-hating American stranger sitting beside me offers me her tomatoes.

Yup, that was a healthy - albeit surreal - dinner.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Home Sweets Home

Whenever I go back to Hong Kong from Manila, Ate Bullet always has boxes of cakes and pastries for me to bring back. Aside from making sure that I'm well-fed and my sweet tooth is well-indulged, another reason why she does it is to send a part of home with me back here.

Each time we open our fridge at home, or even at Ate Bullet's home, there's always a stash of Dexter's cakes and pastries. It can be pianono, spanish bread, cream puff, chocolate cupcakes or chocolate eclairs - but no matter what form the pastries come in, we can be sure that they're ever present in the fridge. Ate wants me to have that same feeling whenever I'm in Hong Kong. She wants me to open the fridge in my flat and see Dexter's cakes and pastries, that way, I'll also feel at home.

This time, Ate sent a box full of chocolate goodies - chocolate cake slices, chocolate cupcakes and chocolate brownies. I've had some for breakfast, and I brought a couple more at work for those mid-afternoon cravings. (Yup, those cravings arrived on time.) Of course, my colleagues wanted part of the action and one them begged me for a cupcake. He said: "Come on, Lester, it's just a cupcake! You can spare one for me, right?"

(I gave in and gave him one of my prized chocolate goodies. That's me... Mr. Nice Guy....)

Well, some people might see this as a simple cupcake. But for me, I see it as a piece of home.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Something old. Something new.

Weekend was spent finishing up errands that I should've done before I went on my Holy Week holiday. This includes paying my electric bill (which was 2 days overdue!), sending out checks, and looking for my sister-in-law's shirts.

A month back, I sent Biboy a gift for his birthday, and decided to send everyone a little something, too. The shirt I sent Liz apparently fit her so well, she asked if I could send her some more. (Some meaning around 6 or more pieces.) Since the stores have changed seasons and those shirts were part of the Fall/Winter collection, finding them turned out to be a bit of a challenge. But as Mark said, I like these types of "challenges." (read: shopping)

So while I was scouring different stores in search of them, I walked into this small hole-in-the-wall in Mongkok, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. A thrift shop selling authentic vintage clothing.

According to the store sign, their shops specialized in vintage clothes from Japan. And judging by the racks that were there, the stuff they had were honest-to-goodness vintage clothes, and not new clothes trying to pass off as old ones. Poring through the racks felt like going through my Lola's closet - they were filled with funky, old clothes like this:

The best part is, the clothes are unbeliveably cheap! This one sold for around HK$30, which is cheaper than a meal at Triple O's! The money saved from buying something old immediately went to this new thing I also bought this weekend:

Yes, Arnie, I bought the Puma Roma Snakeskin sneakers. Not wanting a repeat of the Silver Chuck Taylor's episode, I immediately walked back to the store last Saturday and bought this wonderful pair of shoes. I wore them the entire day yesterday and I must say that they're uber, uber comfortable. If felt like I was wearing slippers!

These shoes are definitely made for traveling, and i'll probably be bringing this with me to my next travel destination.

Oh, I went back to the shop that sold the Black Patent Chuck Purcell's, and they're all sold out. The shoes I bought, as well as its white version, was wiped out. Nada. Nil. Zilch, Nein. Thank goodness I bought my pair before they all disappeared on me again.

Ah yes. The joys and perils of shopping in Hong Kong.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Target

It's amazing what you can find in Hong Kong. Especially when you're not looking for anything. While I was walking on my way back from lunch this afternoon, I stepped in one of those small clothing stalls and found a dress with an interesting shape and pattern. The silhouette looks like it came from the Summer 2007 collections, and the fabric was this easy-on-the-eye-plaid-like-pattern.

When I picked it up from the rack and examined it closely, the label was a bit of a surprise.

It was an Target dress by Isaac Mizrahi. Yes I know, it's Target so it's really nothing to do cartwheels over, but hey, it's Isaac Mizrahi, and he's a really good designer and this dress is a fitting addition to my sisters' closets. My guess is that this dress is part of the S/S 07 offering of Target, and it'll hit the stores sometime in July. But since it was made in Hong Kong, the locals are getting it earlier - and probably for just 10% of the retail price in the U.S.

Good thing I wandered into that shop this afternoon. At least I hit a bullseye!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Happy Javi Birthday

While the rest of Manila was celebrating Easter Sunday with Easter Egg hunts and big lunch buffets, we did something extra. We celebrated the 1st birthday of my nephew - Enrique Javier! It's amazing how it's been a year since he was born. The tiny baby who had to be incubated has grown up to be a big and happy baby. (Who has a thing for balloons.)

Yup, he's so big that he's almost half his Mom's size already. Like any Morales kid, our baby Javi is growing up to be a mini fashion plate. Here he is wearing his H&M shirt, Roca Wear jeans and belt, and his cute little Zara shoes.

As with any party, there was a lot of food. Javi wouldn't have grown that big if he didn't have this equally big appetite, so he spent most of the morning noshing on everything from spaghetti, chicken bits and fries. And despite that, he still had his eye keenly on a sundae!

Javi likes to bite on things as much as he likes to eat. For him, everything is worth taking a bite off. Whenever I carry him, he takes a bite off my shoulder or hands. As long as it doesn't move, he's likely to bite it.


Aside from Javie, all the kids got into the eating action, too. As a testament to how Chickenjoy is probably THE most popular food for kids, I caught my nephews Miggy and Kurt in the midst of finishing up a leg.

Kids also love Jollibee as much as they like Chickenjoy - which is the reason why we decided to hold the party at Jollibee. Not surprisingly, the mascot was a huge hit with both the kids and the parents. He had so many antics - like doing a cartwheel. (Yes! Jollibee can do cartwheels despite his huge head and wings!) Then, while Bob was delivering his wishes for Javi, Jollibee was so touched, he cried!

Yes, he had bee tears running down his glossy cheeks.

Thankfully, his crying spell only lasted a few minutes, and then he was back to his usual happy self and gamely posing for photos with his countless fans. That included us, of course!

After the party, everyone was gushing about the celebration and how they all enjoyed themselves. The kids enjoyed all the games and the loot that they brought home. The parents enjoyed being part of the games and seeing their kids gamely playing with other kids who they've just met. And I enjoyed doing my designated job for that day - the other official photographer. (My brother-in-law pointed out how Spongebob Squarepants was looking at me in this photo.)

But photographers should have fun, too. So before we all called it a day, Miggy and I decided to pose for one last time, making fun of the easter eggs that we found that day.

The funny thing was that everyone was so happy and having so much fun, we didn't realize how time passed by. One of the managers called our attention because the next party was coming up soon and everyone from Javi's party was still there and didn't look like they were ready to leave. Well, our family have always been drawn to celebrations. So after they drove us out, we did the most logical thing to do.

We went home and continued the party there.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Now we are here in...

Xanadu brings back so many memories!

- Memory 1: We went to Unimart to shop, and since Biboy was in a school event before we left, we decided to leave him behind. Cut to Biboy arriving at home and finding out that we were all out - and this made him really disappointed and sad. After Lolo found out, he tried to make Biboy feel better by asking him to watch Xanadu at Delta theater. Lucky him!

- Memory 2: Shashie Friend, Xtine, Erwin and I would perform "Xanadu" in front of the Optima conference table. This was one of the songs we love to sing and dance to. The finale would usually have us in a line, then we'd extend our arms and do the "spirit fingers" thing while Shashie and Xtine would sing the last line that went: Xa-na-duuuu-huuuu-huuuuuu!

- Memory 3: Having the hugest crush on Olivia Newton-John! I'm not sure whether it started with Xanadu or with Grease, but I remember that my classmates and I thought that she was THE major babe! And after seeing this again after a while, I must say that Olivia Newton-John looks so gorgeous in this video. (I also must say that the guy looks SOOOOOO 80's. Wait a minute... this is the 80s.)

Ah yes... If there's one more place that I definitely like to come and visit every so often, it's Xanadu.

"An everlasting world, and you're here with me - eternally!"

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Home for the Holy Week

Thanks to Mark, I'm now in Manila spending the Holy Week at home. He wrote in one of his letters that he hoped I'd spend time with my family in Manila this Holy Week since it's been 6 years since I last did. That reminded me that: "Hey, it's actually been 7 years since I was last home for the Holy Week."

While they weren't intentional, I realized that most of my overseas trips coincided with the Holy Week. Which led me to suddenly look back and remember where I was and what was I doing during those times. And a quick scan of my memory bank yielded these:

2000 - Spent Holy Week in Hong Kong because of a scheduling fiasco at work. Ended up watching movies at the hotel during the day and roaming around the shopping areas at night. (Hmmmm... sounds like what I do every weekend...)

2001 - Backpacking in Thailand. Got on buses and trains, going from one province to the next. I think I was somewhere in between Surat Thani and Hat Yai around Maundy Thursday.

2002 - Looking for a church in Paris. Yes, there were a lot of churches there, but most of them were turned into museums so they didn't have actual masses. But still we tried to find one. (We didn't.)

2003 - Tampico, Mexico. Spent it in a small beach town with amazing churches! It was a bit strange, but on Good Friday, they cover all the saints with black cloth, so all you see in the churches were figures cloaked in black. It was a bit eerie.

2004 - A cathedral in Salzburg, Austria. We heard Good Friday mass - which we didn't understand because it was in Latin. The highlight was hearing a choir of more than 50 people singing. Hearing their powerful voices amidst the excellent acoustics of the cathedral sent shivers down my spine.

2005 - Lazing around in Singapore. It was my first time to hang out at Jo's place, and I spent most of the holy week at her flat, in front of the telly, with a pint of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia and a loaf of Gardenia Fruit and Nut Loaf. Gosh! I miss that.

2006 - Back in Hong Kong. Since it was only a 4-day holiday and I wasn't able to get tickets early enough, I ended up spending Holy Week in my flat reading magazines and watching TV. I still remember distinctly that Mark and I were texting around that time, and he was telling me about their Easter vigil plans and he reminded me to hear mass. Then on Easter Sunday, he was telling me about his favorite part of the vigil - the part when they throw wood into the fire and it goes *poof*!

Now, i'm here at home! Just enjoyed a home cooked lunch courtesy of my sister. The peace and quiet that Manila has to offer during this time is simply splendid. No honking cars, no frenetic people running about... just peace and quiet.

This is the perfect Holy Week environment. Perfect for recollecting and putting the mind at ease. Because it reminds us how calm and peaceful the world can be. And this is possible because He made it possible. The lessons He taught and the sacrifices He made is what brought us here. And while going out of the country is nice, this is a much more excellent way to spend the Holy Week.

Thank goodness Mark reminded me.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Showing them who's Boss(ini)

After living here for almost 2 years, nothing surprises me in HK. But something left me in awe last night.

While passing through Mongkok on my way home, I saw this majorly surprising baby.

It's the new Bossini flagship store in HK. And it's HUGE! (Compared to Giordano's flagship store -- and they're supposed to be the market leader.) It suddenly popped up out of nowhere near Sau Yeung Choi street, and everyone who passed by was obviously in awe and had to stop to take a snapshot. (Me included!)

They have 4 floors - count 'em - 4 floors of merchandise. Aside from their usual Bossini men and women, they now have Bossini baby and Bossini home. And with so many lines, they do need as much retail space as they can. They also have a new logo and brand look. I read somewhere that they designed this new identity to step up to the growing competition arriving in HK. If the local competitors aren't numerous enough, they now have to contend with Zara and H&M. So this really is a step in the right fashion direction.

I must say, this photo is great. Not because of the shot of Bossini, but because of this person who suddenly decided to join in the frame. Oh well, they're notorious for wanting to get photographed. Harhar.

Now, there's another reason to frequent Mongkok. I'm sure Bossini has a lot more surprises under its well cut and sewn sleeve.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dear Ate Arnie

*insert "Lovingly Yours" music here*

Dear Ate Arnie,

After hearing all the wonderful stories about your silver Chuck's and how it was making waves in New York, I became more determined to buy the pair. It's been more than a month since I SMS-ed you: "Silver Chuck Taylors. Should I?" and it turns out that you bought a pair ahead of me. Now I really have to have them.

So, after answering your comment, I proceeded to the shoe store in Granville where the shoes were a few days ago. When I got there, the shocking truth was revealed:

They were gone!

Yup, they're all out of silver Chuck's. No more. Gone. Out of stock. I even went as far as asking them to call their branches, but they didn't have the numbers. Bummer. Even though it was an exercise in futility, I still went around the shop and combed through the racks of multicoloured Chuck Taylors, hoping that my eyes were only playing tricks on me and that they were still there. But alas, they weren't.

Forlornly, I walked down Granville Road headed towards Tsim Sha Tsui East. My aimless wandering led me to this hole-in-the-wall store near the end of the road. If this were a Hollywood film, I'd probably find the pair of shoes I wanted there. Unfortunately, this is Hong Kong and not California, so Hollywood endings aren't expected all the time. But while MY pair of silver Chuck Taylors weren't there, something just as wonderful awaited.


They're not easily recognizable in the photo, but they're Black Patent Jack Purcells.

Yes, they're BLACK PATENT JACK PURCELLS! How ultimately cool is that!!!

These are the shoes I wanted a couple of months ago, but were gone overnight. Now, they're back! Not wanting a repeat of the silver shoe episode, I quickly got my size and bought them. (Good decision because they apparently only have one pair per size.)

So it turns out that disappointment CAN turn into delight. While I wasn't able to get the shoes I soooo wanted to buy now, I found the one I soooooo wanted to buy before. Yup, now i'm the proud owner of Black Patent Jack Purcells.

At least now, we won't have to worry about running into each other while wearing the same shoes. Hahaha.



P.S. Don't forget my pasalubong from the US. (A pair of silver Chuck Taylors, perhaps?) Hehehe.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Brazilian whacks and TST's Next Top Model

The Brazilian invasion continues. Back in Manila, they're practically in every commercial and fashion magazine. The past 6 months, I've worked with 4 of them, and they're fun to work with. Unlike some Filipino models, they have very easygoing attitiudes, are very professional, and they actually eat. A lot. Now, after conquering Manila, their next stop is Hong Kong.

As a favor to a friend, I spent the weekend with 4 of them. It was their first time here, and they needed a guide (or babysitter, as it sometimes feels). They're now joining the ranks of the growing Glamazonian population who roam the streets carrying their "books" in the hopes of landing a good ramp job or a print campaign. This bunch I accompanied were a talkative lot - and I've learned so much about them and their career in so little time.

Most of them go to Asia with nothing but a few hundred dollars and a dream. They come here with no contacts, no experience, no preparations - just a lot of guts, their towering heights and perfect faces. Upon hearing this, I told them that they're either very brave, or they're totally out-of-whack. But as Rosa explained, this is the only way they can escape their hard life in Brazil. Faces like theirs definitely don't belong in Supermercados Bahamas.

Plus, a lot of them are inspired by the many success stories they've heard about their fellowmen landing commercial gigs in Manila after being there for only 5 days. If it can happen to someone like Priscilla, why can't it happen to them. Yup, it's logical, but I think their means of accomplishing their goals is still a bit out-of-whack.

In return for my GPRS, styling, shopping and finding-a-cheap-place-to-eat services, they offered me...

(drum roll please)

Modelling tips.

I felt like I was trapped on an episode of America's Next Top Model and had 4 different coaches. Alonso pointed out that my posture can be improved and that I should walk with my shoulders back and head up. Most of this afternoon was spent with him slapping the back of my shoulders and telling me: "Come on, straighten up." Joao told me that my body was ideal for modelling and I shouldn't gain muscle or lose weight. My physique is apparently "easy to photograph." He also taught me how to stand up like there's always a camera in front of me.

Apart from the points for improvement, they pointed out a couple of "innate" qualities that I should pay attention to. First, they told me that I had a "walk." Whenever I walk down the street, it looks as if I'm following a beat - and this makes my stride constant and consistent - a plus if you want to do catwalk. (Truth is, I sometimes walk with a song in my head. Today, it was S Club 7's "Bring it all back to you." Harharhar.) Second, my eyes are supposedly distinct and easily connects to people and things. My instant guru's told me to be aware of that.

Tomorrow, they'll start pounding the pavements in search for the next lucrative deal. Our time together this afternoon made sure they've got everything they need: the right directions, a few added outfits, and loads of luck from me. Who knows, I just might see one of their faces in the next billboard for Lane Crawford, Joyce or Vivienne Tam.

And while i'm waiting for that to happen, I better get to work on my posture.