Thursday, May 31, 2007

Can you smell fear?

Apparently, you can.

That's what I learned in the seminar I attended today. Carolyn, one of the speakers, works at IFF - a company that provides fragrances for a range of products. This is the 2nd seminar we've attended together, and it was nice to catch up with her again. She always brings new things to the table, and today, she brought something amazingly new: a book of scents!

What's amazing about a book of scents? Well, this wasn't an ordinary book of scents. It didn't have the usual vanilla, sampaguita, rose and bergamot (which Mark likes). Instead, it had a range of scents representing different experiences.

Each scent represented a human emotion and experience. Things like hunger, violence, noise, and mildness. At first we thought the entire concept was odd and a bit impossible, but once she passed around the scents, we realized how experiences can indeed be captured in a smell. For example, the smell of "hunger" was something like yeast or unwashed rice. The smell of "mother" was like Noxema on skin.

There was also the scent of "sadness." First, I took a whiff, then the 4 other Filipinos in the room did the same. And we had the same reaction: "It smells like La Funeraria Paz!" The smell of sadness had that floral yet hospital-y smell that really evokes that feeling. Most of the people in the room started talking about lost loved ones after Carolyn passed around this scent. That's how effective her book of smells was.

She talked about a Russian perfumist who created the smell of "fear" and painted it on a wall and put it on exhibit in New York. Apparently, the people who stood close to the wall for a few minutes started to cry and cringe. Others just stood close to the wall, afraid to leave it. It sounded like an amazing experience, but one that you have to experience yourself in order for you to appreciate it.

They say scents affect a person's mood. After this seminar, I believe that a bit more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Happy Together

Thanks to an impromptu karaoke get-together after the ASEAN Night, I found myself singing that song and getting a decent score for my efforts. During the course of my rendition, I could remember Joy saying how beautiful the lyrics of the song were. And I couldn't agree with her more. Happy together is one of those songs that speak of love, but in a very upbeat way. It eschews the mushy, romantic route (which isn't that bad, since I'm actually a big fan of mush...) and tells a story of love in a way that makes your head bob up and down, left and right.

The refrain is simply but beautifully written:

"I can't see me loving nobody but you, for all my life.
When I'm with you, baby the skies will be blue, for all my life."

When you've found the one you'll spend the rest of your life with, every little thing you do together turns into a happy event. Things that are seemingly simple and mundane turn out to be experiences that teach you more about one another. Things like talking a long walk home after dinner, hearing frogs croaking while passing through rice paddies with only the moonlight to light your way. Or eating microwavable spaghetti by the river as you watch your companions try to bag a fish or a duck. Or watching Grey's Anatomy from a computer screen past midnight. Or eating breakfast while playing Typeshark. Or making the bed a few moments after messing it up for the nth time the past 3 days.

These are things that a lot of people will find ordinary. But then again, nothing is ordinary when you're so happy together.

I can't see me loving nobody but you, for all my life.
When I'm with you, baby the skies will be blue, for all my life.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lessons from a Spider

They had a Spiderman Marathon at TVB Pearl the past few weekends, and they did it to coincide with the showing of Spiderman 3 here in HK. After seeing all the three parts, I must say that the 2nd one was the best, and the last one was the worst. I felt like singing "Shiny, Happy People" in the end because they made sure everyone was happy and likeable before the credits rolled.

Oh well, that's Hollywood for you.

I like it how each of the 3 installments had a lesson to impart. My favourite one was the lesson in the first episode:

"With great power comes great responsibility."

The phrase stuck a chord today, and it's one of the few times that feeling responsible feels so good.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Another reason to love British Humour

I've always loved "The Catherine Tate Show" since I first saw it on the plane. Checked out HMV to see if they had a boxed set of any of the seasons, but they don't. Maybe they have it in Shenzhen. Hahaha.

Lauren is one of my favourite characters, and her classic line: "I ain't bovvered" has been in my mind eversince. I've always wanted to use it in a conversation or with one of my friends, but they probably don't watch the series so the humour will be lost on them.

Saw this on youtube and I must declare, it's another good reason to LOVE Catherine Tate. And another good reason not to be bovvered.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jaslene is in!

The results are out, and the fiery latina has delivered!

Keeping her promise to put a little cha-cha attitude into America's Next Top Model, Jaslene prevailed over Natasha in the finals.

When the competiton started, I wanted Jaslene or Sarah to win. When they sent Sarah a-packing on the 6th episode, my wish for Jaslene to win just doubled. She's got this uber quirky attitude that made her a joy to watch. Eventhough she was Latin, she had this black sass to her which was just charming to watch.

Judging by her portfolio, and how she was the top name to be called in the first two photo sessions, it's easy to see why Tyra chose her over the more commercially viable Natasha. There's something in her that just jumps out in photographs - that elusive X-factor that everyone talks about.

Jaslene is the first Latina America's Next Top Model!

Exito! Viva Jaslene!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Happy Three Friends

It must've been the election "holiday", or maybe it's because the summer season in Manila is about to end, but there seems to be a lot of Filipinos vacationing in Hong Kong this week. Since Friday last week, i've been running into Pinoys en masse, at the MTR, in the malls, along Nathan Road, and of course, Mong Kok. Thanks to Cebu Pacific, traveling is now much easier.

Among those visitors were three sets of friends. Yup, I saw three sets of friends this weekend (and start of the week) and was able to show them around and brought them to my favourite haunts. (Both shopping and eating haunts. Reports about my being a shopaholic are grossly exaggerated. Hahaha.) Strangely, I only knew of one set coming here: Ginger and Dave. They're on their nth visit here, and their first after the wedding. So this might still be part of their honeymoon. The other 2 sets, well, they were a big - albeit a very pleasant - surprise. Too bad their schedules were packed, I would've wanted to spend more time with them.

With the Philippine Independence Weekend coming up soon, I'm sure more Pinoys are planning to come and visit. I'm hoping i'll be seeing more friends then, too. (Paging Lu-ann and company.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mango goes a-hawk-ing

Had lunch at Times Square today, and made my customary rounds through the shops. Zara still had the same old stuff, but it's noticeable that they're injecting a lot of colour into their wardrobe which only means that summer has finally arrived in Hong Kong. Club Monaco still had the staple black and white clothes. (Most of which are made in the Philippines. Yes, somewhere in Manila, there's a Club Monaco export overrun outlet waiting to be found.) FCUK was also not so exciting. Thank goodness there's always Page One and Papyrus - these two shops never fail to get my spirits up.

Then I passed by Mango on my way to the exit, and that's where I found the goodies!

Milla Jovovich and Carmen Hawk - better known as the fashionable minds behind Jovovich-Hawk - launched a capsule collection for Mango (or MNG.) They're composed of shiny dresses: some of the shine comes from the embellishment, while others from the fabric itself. There's a nice brown taffeta mini-dress with rhinestones and a printed jersey dress with a patent belt. Another part of the collection was composed of maxi-dresses made of silk, and they actually look light and airy. But they're obviously made with Europeans in mind because the length is too long for the "petite" majority of HK denizens.

While these may be hot property - capsule collections always are - this isn't as exciting as the previous collections that have been launched. It doesn't have enough oomph like Proenza Schouler's collection for Target (which Arnie has, lucky girl) and Roland Mouret's collection for Gap. But if the 3.1 Philip Lim collection is any indicator of how crazy people here are for capsule collections - famous or not - then the Jovovich-Hawk line might be all out before the week ends.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Wonderful Wireless Weekend with Mark

A very pleasant surprise greeted me today. And for once, it's not shopping related. Although i found some wonderful t-shirts for Javi this lunchtime at H&M. Here they are:

When I opened my computer at home, my MAC detected a wireless network and immediately connected. Ergo, I was able to go online and was able to spend time with Mark. It's been a while since we last spent Saturday together - both on-line and in person, so this is really a wonderful surprise. He's off having his late lunch, so here I am updating my blog from my bed! Cool beans!

(And Melvin, who's also on-line, agrees with me that I should be updating my blog this very instant. I told him I got connected at home and was equally thrilled. He likens this experience to a kid getting a new toy. A time full of amazement and wonder.)

Ah yes. Happy Surprises. Happy Saturday.

And yes Mark, I cleaned my desk at work. Hahaha.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Where wear you?

This morning, I once again had the daunting task of deciding which jeans to wear. That's the only drawback with having more than enough jeans - figuring out what goes well with the mood today can be a bit of a pain. Thank goodness I have a group of "safe jeans" which is what I wear when there's no time to decide. "Safe jeans" are jeans that have an uber classic cut and wash, and will go with just about anything.

While screening my jean stash, I found one still with a tag on it. It was a pair of jeans from K2, and after seeing the tag, I remembered that I bought this pair around November 2005. Which means it's been in my closet for about a year and a half without being worn!

Gosh! How can that happen? Well, I'll tell you how that can happen. My theory is that among all the jeans in my closet, I've only worn 3/4 of the lot. The other 1/4 still have tags and haven't been out of the closet since I've bought them. (But I think this pair I found might be the longest staying one.)

Anyway, since it's been mulling inside the closet for so long, I decided to bring it out and finally wear it. Here they are, my jeans in their long overdue debut!

The fit is very K2 (which is very Chinese/Japanese.) The rise is low, the legs are a bit tapered, and it's straight all the way down. Thank goodness I was able to fit in. It also has a lot of distressed details, such as these two big tears on the right leg. I'll give this a few months, and after that, i'm sure the frayed parts will become big holes. And people will once again remark: "You've got white legs!"

I also like the stitching detail on the knee. The thread they used is thick and heavy duty, which allays my fear that it'll just break open when I bend it while running, walking or bending down.

I'm certain this pair of jeans is relieved that it's finally seen the light of day after all that time. And i'm glad that I've stumbled upon it this morning, or else it might just have been in there for another 6 months.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Reese's Redux

I've always loved Reese's Pieces! While all the kids were carrying around their Nestle Crunch bars, their Snickers and Butterfingers, their Three Musketeers and Milky Ways, I was sitting in one corner savoring my little peanut butter cup. Making small bites and letting the chocolate melt in my mouth and give way to the peanut butter center. That was my definition of bliss.

Growing up, I've dabbled into other chocolates as well, especially after my Tita from Barcelona introduced us to the concept of European chocolates. Suddenly, the entire chocolate world opened and we realized that there's more to chocolates than M&M/Mars and Hershey's. Now, we had brands like Andes, Lindt, Perugina, Valrhona and Cote 'd Or. I suddenly became a chocolate polygamist and jumped from one brand to the next. There was even a time when I was addicted to Andes Chocolate Mint and Chocolate Orange thins!

But while these European brands dislodged all those American chocolates off our repertoire, Reese's still remained in my book. Once in a while, I'd find myself leaving Lindt in the fridge in favour of another Reese's Peanut Butter cup. This trend continues even up to now. While I enjoy indulging in Royce, Leonida's and Godiva, it still doesn't compare to the goodness of Reese's. I think it's more than the flavour that makes Reese's such an important chocolate for me, it's all those memories from childhood to adulthood that make it super special.

Memories like sneaking out of my room in the middle of the night to eat Reese's in the kitchen. Or how Xtine and I went grocery shopping in Long Beach and my eyes lit up at the sight of a big shelf of Reese's. Or how Biboy and I went back to Walmart because I wanted to check if they still had the special edition Reese's available. (They had white chocolate and dark chocolate Reese's.) Or how Mark visited me at Unitel with a pack of Reese's on hand. Or how, despite all these years, my parents, siblings and other relatives remember that i'm a big Reese's fan and send me some from the US whenever they have the chance. (The last bag they sent me was the Reese's with Caramel - and I still saved a piece at home.)

This weekend, while we were roaming around Wynn Macau, I saw a very unique pack of Reese's at the hotel's gift shop. Excitedly and without missing a beat, I rushed to the shop and bought two packs. This is how it looked like:

It turned out to be a special edition Reese's that features these yummy peanut butter cups in their original packaging. And instead of two cups per pack, it had three.

Needless to say, I bought it. (Ignoring the fact that it's 400% more expensive than the regular Reese's.) Why shouldn't I? The pack looks classic, it got me excited, and it has more of what I enjoy in every pack.

Yup, that's exactly what Reese's means to me.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Liking Lim

This weekend, I had a bad case of "accompanying-Kawei-to-shop-but-ending-up-buying-more-than-him-syndrome." It was totally odd since my job simply was to show him the good shopping places in Hong Kong so he can indulge in a little bit of retail therapy. Then i'd end up carrying bigger bags than him on our way home.

Let's see... It happened at H&M, at Cheong Hing Bakery, and at Uniqlo. But it was the Uniqlo trip that was definitely, de-fi-nite-ly worth it.

Since they don't have Uniqlo in Singapore just yet, we went to the one at Miramar Complex. While he was trying on a pair of pants and a blazer, I decided to just veg in the graphic T section. More than 15 minutes passed and he still wasn't back so I went around the store to look for him. It turns out he was at the Designer's Invitation Project section looking for a gift for his colleague, and that's when I spotted this.

It turned out that they launched the 3.1 Phillip Lim capsule collection for Uniqlo that day! We went there sometime mid afternoon, and most of the dresses were already sold. There were less than 10 pieces on the rack, and it looked like they'd all be gone in the next 10 minutes. Following my fashion instincts, I grabbed two of the dresses for my two sisters: one in black, the other in white.

Phillip Lim is known for his choice of fabrics and detail in construction. There's always a little detail in his clothes that give it a fashionable twist while still keeping it wearable. His clothes look good on the sidewalk as it does on the catwalk. Plus, since Uniqlo is a mass brand, it was very affordable. An original 3.1 Phillip Lim in New York will cost thousands of dollars, and I got two of these for just little over a hundred. Just looking at this pleated detail on the bodice and feeling the soft linen of the dress, I'm convinced this purchase is a steal.

Excellent fabric, unique construction and a retail friendly price. What's not to like about Phillip Lim?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mind over Marriage Matters

Before this year ends, and as the next one starts, two friends of mine will be getting married. Contrary to the "June Bride" concept, the most popular months to get married in the Philippines are actually December, January and February. The main reason behind this is the weather - June is either scorching hot or rainy, while the abovementioned 3 months are cool, windy and comfy over-all.

It's been a while since I last helped put together a wedding. The last one was in February 2006 when Joannah got married in Manila. That was loads of fun because we were coordinating the wedding from 3 countries: Singapore, Hong Kong and Manila. Just as planned, the wedding was a low-key, elegant and fun affair. But the planning was just as fun as the event itself.

Now that I've got 2 weddings to "organize", i'm doubly excited and my mind is working double time. Ever since Claire and I became "accidental wedding coordinators" some 5 years back, I realized that conceptualizing weddings is a creatively fulfilling and challenging affair. And this type of fulfillment and challenge is a welcome break from thinking about commercials all the time.

Both weddings have actually been marinating in my mind the past months. And as the date draws closer, I think about them more often and much intensely.

How intense? I was thinking about Bonique's wedding too much this morning, I missed my train stop!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Black Eyed Betty

In the "Oshi" episode of Ugly Betty, they featured the song "Bebot" in all its tagalog-lyric glory.

Oshi - who I surmise is patterned after Yohji Yamamoto - travels with an entourage and his own background music. And yes, that background music happens to be the ditty that Apl de ap wrote in honour of his home country. I wonder if the producers are aware of this. Or maybe, one of the production people was actually Filipino and that's the reason why the song made its way in the series.

It was surreal to hear the song all of a sudden. Or as that often repeated quote (even by me) from Notting Hill goes: "Surreal but Nice."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Things are really getting ugly...

The "Ugly Betty" fever in the Morales flat is hitting record highs. I've been watching the series the past few nights, and i've finished all the episodes in the boxed set I bought.

But the problem when you put together an impatient advertising person and a whole season in a box is that you can expect a bit of cheating to happen.

I watched the first 5 episodes, and the plot was so interestingly twisted, I had the urge to find out how everything would unravel. So what did I do? After the 5th episode, I decided to watch the last episode and work my way up to where I left off. Some people might find this viewing habit uber weird, but it the more fun way of enjoying the series.

Aside from the plot, one thing I love about the series are the characters. It was nice to see Judith Light on TV again. After Alyssa Milano, she was my favorite actress in "Who's the Boss." Now, she's playing Daniel Meade's recovering alcoholic mother - Claire. Despite being out of the scene for a while, her comic timing is still impeccable.

Another favorite character is Constance. The immigration case officer who has the hots for Betty's dad. She lights up the screen everytime she appears, but this segment is definitely one of my favorite scenes with her.

Gosh! I can't wait for Season 2 to start. (And for the boxed set to be available.)