Monday, July 30, 2007

Overjoyed. Overshopped.

Just got back from a wonderful, wonderful weekend in Manila. Short, but still wonderful.

It's the first time I've seen Mark since ASEAN night in Urasa and since he arrived in Manila. We were finally able to watch Harry Potter, although he wasn't as impressed as I was by the film. (He read the book, I didn't.) I think this film is way better than the last 2 installments, but as I asked Mark: "Why does Harry always have to be scarred and bloodied by the end of the film?" We also got to hang out and have dinner at Ate Bullet's house, as well as visit their exhibit at the Intercon. (Free cake!)

Another thing that we did that I haven't done in a long time was -- watch TV! Yup, it's been a while since I last lazed on the couch watching the telly. It was funny how we were shuttling between Heroes and The Tyra Banks Show. Then we watched the 2nd episode of ANTM cycle 8. That was loads of fun.

Cuisine-wise, we were able to eat at Jollibee (something we both haven't done in a while), Chef D' Angelo (the last time we ate there was February last year!) and Wok Inn. (Made him try the sipa and the stuffed tofu. Winner!)

Got to see Bonique and Vince during an impromptu meet-up at McDonald's. Finally, I've found funky shoesies for Bonique - and they fit her perfectly. It was truly a Cinderella moment! Then I ran into my former model - Joanna - and it was great to hear how she recently graduated from school. She put her modelling career on hold because she wanted to fill her brain before filling her pockets - and that's a very admirable trait indeed.

And as it turns out, Hong Kong isn't the only country on "sale mode." The Malls in Manila were all screaming SALE!!!. Shangri-La, Gateway, Robinson's Galleria... I was hoping to get a respite from shopping, but I was wrong. Very, very, very wrong! The shopping spree started out when we bought slippers for Mark and socks for me. The next day, I ended up buying 2 linen dresses and a maxi-dress at Mango.

Sunday night, my siblings and I dropped by Celine and found that the shoes were also on sale. They were unbeliveably cheap and my sisters were like the proverbial "kids in the candy store." They ended up buying 12 pairs of shoes! And they were just for 3 people. But really, that Celine deal is excellent. Their shoes are a great buy - both style wise and quality wise.

Then before I knew it, I was queueing up again at the Immigration line at the airport and was back in Hong Kong before 9am today. Yup, welcome back to reality.

It's amazing how much you can do in 2 days. And it's amazing how much fun 2 days can be.

If all weekends were like this, I'd wish it were a weekend every day.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Give me Libertine

Still further proof that Hong Kong is a wonderful place to shop.

Just a few weeks after Target launched their Libertine line in the US (part of their GO Designer line), some key pieces have found their way into our shores. And as usual, they're priced a bit lower than the ones you'll find in the US.

The first time I saw it was last Tuesday at the clothing store near my flat. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough cash and they didn't accept credit cards. And since it was almost 10pm, they'd be closed by the time I got back from the bank. Ergo, the entire day yesterday, I was hoping that the stuff would still be there in the evening. I was even whining to Arnie about it.

Luckily, the shopping deities were smiling at me because both of the things that caught my eye were still there.

The first was a twist to the classic Little Black Dress. Here's the dress on Target's website:

And here's the dress at home:

There are two interesting bits to it. First is the lace on the neckline, and the second is the detail on the skirt.

The second item was a cropped linen jacket that was SO rich in details. Here's the jacket on the website:

And here it is at home:

The ruffles put much needed oomph to the piece and the fabric they use is firm enough so that the collar stands on its own, but soft enough so it doesn't sting or scratch.

It has a special Libertine lining made of silk, and I love the way the brand was written. It reminds me of old style calligraphy.

And finally, the crystal studded back. This detail is just SO Libertine.

I remember K writing about how difficult it is not to shop when you're in Hong Kong. With stuff like these hanging around in places so convenient to reach, not shopping can get really, really, REALLY difficult.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Today's issue of South China Morning Post had a very interesting article. Reporters from Reader's Digest were dispatched to do a story on honesty. In every country, 30 reporters left their phone in a public place and they'd ring it to see if passers-by would pick it up and try to trace the owners. Out of the 32 cities around the world, the most honest one was Ljubljana in Slovenia with 29 phones returned.

Surprisingly, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur were at the bottom, with only 13 phones returned.

And guess who made it to top 5?

Yup, good ole Manila was ranked 5th, alongside New York and Mumbai. Out of the 30 phones left behind, 24 were returned to their owners. On a personal note, I have experienced this type of honesty last year when I left my phone at the Internet Cafe in Cubao and someone returned it to me.

I'm really not surprised since Filipinos are known for their honesty. I've read so many articles about cab drivers, maitre'ds, and security guards returning huge amounts to their rightful owners. So despite all the bad press out there about Manila, I'm very heartened to hear positive news like this being broadcast in Hong Kong.

Honestly, this makes me even more proud to be Pinoy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Europa Barata

When I opened my email today, I got this letter from KLM!

Gah! Gah! Gah! They're selling cheap tickets to Europe! And to think my friend and I were just talking about a European jaunt last night.

Thing is, the trip has to be booked before next Tuesday. But I can leave anytime from August to March next year.

Hmmm... Maybe I should start planning that trip to Spain, Italy and Greece really soon. This might just be the sign I'm waiting for.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shop and Stop


Most of the shops in Hong Kong are on "Final Sale" mode. That means their prices are down by 70% off. Those shops include Zara and H&M.

There was a bejeweled tunic at Zara that originally sold for HK$1000 but is now down to HK$259. And it's in my Mom's size!


There's this jersey maxi dress at H&M that was originally HK$400 and now it's just HK$110! And it's in Ate Bullet's size. Plus a peasant dress in green jersey that was originally HK$340 but now HK$104! Yup, it's in Ate Lissa's size.

The past two days, i've been going out empty handed and coming home lugging huge shopping bags.


I should stop going out of the house.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Slim Pickings

Earlier this week, Kath - my colleague who's well aware of my jean obsession - asked how many new jeans I have. It took me a few minutes to think of the answer. But when I did, I proudly exclaimed: "Actually, I haven't bought a new pair of jeans in over two months." Saying that was like hearing an alcoholic say: "I've been sober for the past two years."

Wow! I haven't been buying jeans the past two months! Well, there's an asterisk there somewhere. I have been buying jeans, but they're for my nephews and not for myself.

This evening, I was accompanying Karen to Zara and helping her find a dress for her party. We dropped by the men's area and saw these 2 pairs of jeans that were on sale.

Honestly, I've never been the "slim fit" kinda guy, much more the "super slim fit" type. I'll take straight fit jeans or boot cut ones anytime. But Karen egged me to "just try it on" because she was curious how "super" it was. So, I did. And when I came out of the dressing room, she exclaimed: "Oh my God. You look like a bada** rockstar."

I put it back on the rack and for the next 20 minutes, Karen was egging me to buy it because it fits me really well. And on hindsight, she was right. With the "fits me well" part and not the "bada** rockstar" portion.

Ergo, my two months of non-jean purchasing has ended today. My closet welcomes two more additions to my perpetually growing jean family.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Familia Zaragoza

Thanks to this old drama series on Channel 2, family photographs were never the same again. Suddenly, everyone wanted a photo where everyone looks stern and someone looks like a villain. And this shot became a classic, and almost iconic.

Some people even use it as a descriptor. Like they would tell the photographer: Isang Familia Zaragoza shot naman. And the photographer would know exactly what to do.

I think the series ended almost a decade ago, but the "Familia Zaragoza" pose continues to live on.

Needless to say, Maya and I had to have a Familia Zaragoza shot during her wedding.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Two weeks notice. Five years after.

After watching "Two Weeks Notice" again last night, I realized that it was really a bland movie. I thought it would be like "Kate and Leopold" that looked better the more you watched it. But I was wrong.

The first time I saw it in Manila 5 years ago, it felt like a blah, half-baked rom-com. It supposedly had all the elements for a hit, after all, it starred two big names in the genre - Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. But there was something a bit off in the story, and the chemistry between the two characters didn't have that spark. Not only did the film do poorly in the box office, it didn't sit well with the critics, too. When I saw it again, it was still a blah, half-baked rom-com.

If there's one saving grace in the film, it's "Big Yellow Taxi" by Counting Crows. I really love this song - from Joni Mitchell to Janet Jackson's homage to it in her "Got 'til it's gone" song. The different singers gave this ditty a distinct texture. Joni's version is very raw and heartfelt, Janet's is very sultry, while Counting Crows' has an element of longing. And it definitely goes well with the theme and lyrics of the song.

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parkin' lot"

Monday, July 16, 2007


I want to go to Barcelona.
Spend a few weeks just chilling in my Tita's apartment in Deu y Mata.
Strolling along Las Ramblas in the morning.
Grabbing lunch at Mercat Boqueria.
Going up to Parc Gruell and just get lost in the gaudy-ness of Gaudi.
Lose myself in Sagrada Familia and all its detail.
Hang out at Cristy's place and catch up.
Maybe watch an FCB game courtesy of Xavi's brother Juan.
Browse and shop at Pull and Bear.
And Zara, of course.

I want to go to Atlanta.
See what Biboy has been doing with his basement.
Go to the Starbucks near Walgreens and play catch up with everyone.
Talk to Dad about all travels i've been doing.
Be amazed at how my nephews and nieces have grown.
Look at Carl's artwork and watch Jul's soccer game tapes.
Hear Erika play the violin and Noah try and talk in Tagalog.
Visit North Point Mall and see what's on sale at American Eagle and Abercrombie and Fitch.
Drop by Target to see if the Libertine collection is out.
Grab some packs of Munchies while i'm there.
Pass by the Izaac Mizrahi racks on the way out.
Swing by Old Navy since it's just next door.

I want to go on a vacation.

I want to go away.

(Thanks, Arnie for triggering these realizations.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Style Child

After my morning run around Kowloon Park, I decided to drop by Harbour City to check if Zara has lowered their prices yet again. (Eventhough I was just there last Wednesday, you'll never know since things in Hong Kong happen so fast.) While the clothes for men and women are pretty much the same price, the kids line had dropped prices a bit more. And it was the perfect opportunity to buy clothes for my adorable little nephew - Javier.

The first set I bought is what I called the "Baby Rocker" look. It's a rocker tee and a funky pair of jeans:

This design is uber cool. If they had this in adult sizes, i'll most probably buy one. It's got that "Sex Pistols" vibe to it. Baby Rocker has been Javier's look for the past few months as he's really into skull tees and jeans. This will make a worthy addition to his rock repertoire.

The next look is more along the lines of "Utilitarian Cool." It's composed of cargo jeans and a plaid shirt. I reckon this is the predominant look in the US today since it's summer.

The cargo jeans have a detachable bottom half and it can turn into shorts as easy as zip. This will come in handy since it's probably still quite long for Javier now, and he can wear it as shorts in the meantime. And when he grows up a bit more, then he can wear the full pants.

During his first birthday party, someone commented that Javier was such a fashionable baby. Given the company he's around - especially his Mom, Titos and Titas, I wouldn't be surprised.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Little Japan

When I feel like reliving my fun days in Japan, I quickly take the MTR and head off to Taikoo Shing. Once I come up from Exit B, it suddenly feels like I'm transported back to Tokyo, or Kyoto, or even Muikamachi.

First, there's a big Jusco department store. This is Mark's favourite department store (and the nearest one to IUJ, actually.)

I still remember during my first visit to Urasa, we walked all the way from Muikamachi station to Jusco - and it was a long walk - long enough to get snapped at. We had our first Japanese McDonald's meal there, and also had our first Neoprint photo at the Daisho.

At the right side of Jusco is another Japanese icon, and one that I never got enough of during my visits to Japan.

Mos Burger is one of the most popular Burger Chains in Japan. Although it's not really like Jollibee in scale, a lot of locals eat here (and First Kitchen) and their burgers are supposedly healthier. (I wouldn't know because I don't eat burgers.)

This is the meal I ordered when I first ate at the Mos Burger outlet in Kyoto. The seafood rice burger set. I love this meal because it's the perfect size for me - small enough so as not to be overwhelming, but big enough to be filling. It's much better than the rice burger at McDonald's, and the filling tastes better and is healthier. The seafood has this tinge of sweetness which is so apt for Filipino palates.

Now all I need is for Mark to be here, then it would really feel like Little Japan.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Puttin' on the Glitz

It first caught my eye this lunchtime at Zara in Pacific Place. Among the racks and racks of items on sale, it easily stood out - and for good reason. It was a dress full of glitz, and its glitz came from the hundreds of sequins sewed onto the bodice. At first glance, my immediate thought was: "Ate Bullet is definitely going to love this dress." And my second thought was: "I'm hungry..." So, I left Zara and proceeded to Triple Os.

The funny thing was, the dress was still on my mind the entire afternoon. It must've been the glitz that I couldn't forget. I even told Arnie about the dress and how it's haunting me, and that i'll probably end up buying it.

And tonight, I did.

It's a nice variation of the Little Black Dress - something that Ate Bullet definitely adores. (The long line of LBDs in her closet is testament to that.) The silhouette is very relaxed, which gives it a relaxed glamour feeling. Aside from the bodice, the sleeves and neck area are points of interest.

The embroidery reminds me of Galliano, particularly the one on Nicole Kidman's groundbreaking Oscar dress. This plus all the sparkle really makes this dress a stand out.

No wonder I couldn't forget about it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Club Wed

Maya's wedding last Saturday was one big reunion. Aside from seeing my friends from the Manila office of Y&R, I also saw a lot of friends from the old DY&R-Alcantara.

When Baby A. saw all of us huddled together, she suddenly waxed nostalgic and wanted to cry. We all dissuaded her since the wedding hasn't started yet, and she's a ninang! No one wanted her to march down the aisle with mascara running down her cheeks.

It was an occasion filled with hugs and "ohmygosh!lookit'syous!" - from the moment we arrived at the parking lot to the time we had to say our temporary goodbyes. I got to see Donya Arleen, Monche aka Boo-rat, Superstar Harvey, Chef Chinggoy, Maya E., Baby A., and some of my former clients.

But the biggest surprise was running into Neil again. He used to be our art director at Adformatix, but now he's changed careers and has been taking wedding photographs for a couple of years now. Being a former ad man, he definitely has an eye for composition and can create stories behind shots. That is what makes him stand out from the rest of the wedding photographer pack.

That, and taking funky photographs like this:

Monday, July 09, 2007

Time Travel

It's amazing how the same amount of time can feel so different when you're in a different place.

When I got to the flat this morning, it felt like I was gone for a long time. Even as I alighted the cab in front of the building and looked around, it didn't feel like I was gone for just a weekend. It felt like I was out of Hong Kong for weeks - even if I was just out for two whole days.

Conversely, the same two days in Manila whizzed by so fast. Since I arrived, it was a flurry of activities: lunches, weddings, dinners, fittings, catching up with friends, malling, movies... all squeezed in within 48 hours. (Which is incidentally how long Palmolive Naturals Conditioner can make your hair soft. A free plug! Hahaha.) To me, it felt like I was just there for a day, and that's never enough.

There's always so much to do in Manila. Like going to Robinson's Galleria and dropping by People are People for a bit of retail therapy. (Yup, even if I live in the shopping capital of Asia, I find time to shop in Manila.) And there's always so many people to see. Some scheduled, some inadvertently. (Like seeing Tintin and Ynna in Megamall.)

But despite being able to do a lot, I'm surprised that I also wasn't able to do a chockfull of things. Like eat at Jollibee. Or go to Glorietta. Or buy something at CMG. Or have dinner with D' Frendz. So much to do... so little time.

Really, it's amazing how the same amount of time can feel so different when you're in a different place.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Cheap and Cheaper

On my way to Fat Angelo's in SoHo to have dinner with Ovvian, I saw the latest brand to join the sale bandwagon in Hong Kong.

Yup! H&M is now on sale. I was inside for about 30 minutes and was scampering around and looking at all the good buys. Imagine, a place known for cheap clothes has slashed prices by 50%! Whoopeedoo! Thank goodness my restraint level last night was at its highest, and that simply meant I left the store without buying anything - not even kid's clothes.

After all, 30 minutes is definitely not enough time to do serious bargain hunting. I need at least half a day there.

And that half a day is coming next week. Definitely.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Ole Olay!

I found this ad at the Cannes website and loved it immediately. It was an ad for Olay Total Effects in Vietnam, although I forgot which agency did it.

This is one of those ads that are brilliant in its simplicity. Although some ad people will look at it and think: "obviously a scam." I look at it and think: "I wish I did that."

Monday, July 02, 2007

Fresh from the oven

Yup. Another day, another odd experience. Gosh, if I had a dollar each time a kababayan would talk about me in front of me (thinking I'm not Filipino and can't understand them) then I'd have extra shopping money that I'd spend on the Zara sale. (Of course we're talking about US dollars here. If it were in Hong Kong Dollars, I'd only have an extra Happy Meal or two.)

I took the MTR on my way home, and stood near 2 Filipinas in the crowded train. In less than a minute, this conversation between the two of them happened:

PINAY 1: Tignan mo yung Intsik na yon, may hitsura.
PINAY 2: Alin?
PINAY 1: Yan, yung nasa tabi mo. Bihira nga ako makakita ng Intsik na ganyan.
PINAY 2: Hindi naman kasi purong Intsik yan. Siguro isa lang sa magulang niya ang Intsik.
PINAY 1: Bakit naman?
PINAY 2: Iba ang hitsura niya, tignan mo yung mata niya, hindi masyadong singkit. Ang kapal pa ng kilay niya. (Gosh! This did it for me!) Siguradong may halo na yan.
PINAY 1: Oo nga. Tsaka matangkad siya. Tsaka iba yung kulay niya. Baka Kastila ang tatay niya.
PINAY 2: Tumpak ka. Malamang, Spanish bred yan.

Gosh. Do I look like tinapay?