Friday, August 31, 2007

Mind the Gap

While traversing Mong Kok last night, Rich told me this interesting piece of retail news. Gap is finally opening its first store in Manila. And we're not talking about InStyle which has Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Lily Pulitzer in one store. This is free-standing, full-line, plucked out of the U.S. Gap.

Wow, they're really bringing in all the fast-fashion retailers to Manila. I just hope that the Gap store that they'll open will have a good selection of clothes. Kawei was telling me how disappointing the Gap store in Singapore was because most of the stuff they sell are so basic, it's boring. I guess if they brought in the (Red) line, or the capsule collections of Doo.Ri and Roland Mouret, then things should be a bit more exciting.

The question in my mind now is this. How will Gap deal with all these Gap export overruns flooding our tiangges and surplus shops? Will they be able to find a way to neutralize them so that people will get the real deal at the real store? Or will the Gap store carry non-Philippine made items. (Hecho en Mexico, anyone?)

Well, whatever the answer is to that question, I'll definitely be looking forward to minding the Gap in Manila.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shake it

Happiness is a large McDonald's strawberry milkshake. It's my 2nd most favorite milkshake in the world. (The first is the one in Steak N' Shakes in Georgia.) A friend once tried to convince me that the strawberry milkshake at Triple O's is better, but he was wrong. Definitely wrong.

In my opinion, even the crummiest of days can brighten up a bit when you take a sip off this shake. And I'm so glad that there's a McDonald's outlet just below our office. A strawberry milkshake is definitely in order.

(Ugh! Looking at the Steaks N' Shakes website is giving me an appetite. I really should go to Atlanta and visit my family really soon.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Buy Bye-bye

This lunchtime, I went to Times Square for my fill of Sweet and Sour fish at City Super. Before going back to the office, I dropped by Zara to see if there was anything interesting and new.

At 1:30pm, I saw 4 dresses that were marked down. Since I was going back to the office, and didn't want to lug around a bag of clothes, I decided to just come back after work.

A mere 6 hours after, at 7:30pm, I went back to Zara and all 4 dresses were gone! Well, the 2 dresses were still there, but not in my sisters' sizes. Gosh! People in Hong Kong are really serious about their Zara.

Really, I should be used to this already. But it still surprises me whenever it happens.

Monday, August 27, 2007


After the "Olivier" dress, it seems like DVF is continuing her reptilian streak and carried it over to last season's designs.

Net-a-porter hasn't featured DVF's F/W07 collection. I wonder if there will be a couple of snakes in the grass there, too.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


This one's for Arnie.

Oftentimes, we'd talk about the young, dynamic duo of American fashion - Proenza Schouler. When they launched their capsule collection for Target this year, Arnie was in New York and bought a few key pieces. I told her that she was lucky for being able to. It turns out that today, i'd be the lucky one.

I was just supposed to accompany Ovvian and Mona to one of my favorite shopping haunts. In fact, I told them that I left my credit card at home to discourage me from spending. As they were going crazy over the shoes, I decided to do some browsing on my own. And this is where I saw this Proenza Schouler tweed dress.

It has one of the signature looks of the duo - the cup-like bustier. Their early collections were identified by this trademark, and i'm glad that this dress had it.

The best part of this dress is that I got it for about 80% off! It was the last on the rack, and I reckon Lane Crawford just wanted to dispose of it, ergo the price. It was tucked in a very remote part of the store, but still, I found it.

Yes, I broke my promise yet again. Not only did I buy that, I also ended up with 3 more designer pieces.

An Alberta Ferretti dress in distressed chiffon and jersey.

A Diane Von Furstenburg "Olivier" dress which fuses together snakeskin prints with black lace. It sounds like an odd combination, but you can trust DVF to make it work.

Lastly, a Max Azria dress that was a steal.

I let the Narciso Rodriguez dress pass today. But i'll go back next week, and if it's still there - it's definitely a sign!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Siu Mai Gosh

After Vita Lemon Tea, I've got another new addiction here in Hong Kong. And like Vita, it's something I often overlooked, and got hooked after trying it.

It's Siu Mai.

Much like our Siomai, the Siu Mai here is a regular fixture in street food stalls. Usually made of fish (which part, I don't know), it's wrapped in yellow dumpling skin and steamed. It's usually dipped in soy sauce, which is what we normally do in Manila. But since I like it super spicy, they dip it in this thick, gravy-like sauce which is mostly made up of chili peppers. Awesome!

The best Siu Mai and Chili sauce i've tasted is the one near Fa Yuen Street. Every weekend, I go there and get my Siu Mai fix. The vendors already know me, and immediately dip it in sauce before giving it to me. I've earned the reputation "Spice Boy" and that's what I'm called by one of the guys there.

Gosh. Just writing about it is giving me another Siu Mai craving.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The past 12 months must be the most chronicled year in the decades I've been traveling. Not only have I managed to scribble about these places in my notebook and wrote a bit of it in this blog, I've also been able to write about it in a couple of publications.

It all started when Jacqui asked if I wanted to write a travel article for her newspaper. The timing couldn't have been more perfect as I just returned from Japan and China that time. My writing stint for her started with an article on Kyoto, and the on-line version can still be found here and here. Then before I knew it, I've written 3 articles on 3 countries for her - and this really got me back into my feature writing roots.

Yesterday, Cecile brought me a copy of the in flight magazine, Mabuhay. Her reason? She saw a familiar name and the familiar hobby of that familiar name. Yes, it was my name on an article about shopping!

Ever since I was a kid, I've always loved to write and to travel. (Ok, and to shop.) I'm glad that I can put these passions on paper.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shopping for Wisdom

Got this nugget of shopping wisdom while trodding up and down the streets of Granville last night:

"The fact that it's on sale doesn't change the fact that it's ugly."

Funny! I think I have to print this one on a t-shirt.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


The renovated wing at the Peninsula Manila was definitely worth the wait - and the ruckus. (When it was still being renovated, i stayed on the 10th floor and usually awoke to the loud banging from the rooms below.) Whilst the hotel's former rooms had this old world charm, the new ones definitely erase the Peninsula's old, stuffy image.

Changes in the Makati wing greet you as soon as the elevator opens. the old marble walls and plain mirror have given way to dark wood and an ornate glass artwork.

The same dark wood treatment is used in the foyer and corridors of the room. The carpet has also been changed to a darker hue, which is great since the old cream coloured carpets gave often looked unkempt.

The made-over rooms are sleek, but not too cold or Philippe Stack-ish. Like the elevator and the foyer, dark wood and sleek lines have been integrated into the room's design to give it a touch of youthfulness without sacrificing the Peninsula's brand of elegance.

There are a lot of Filipino touches in the room, which gives it that Manila feel. The lounge chair is made of rattan, the lamp has this bamboo-esque design and even the window screens have this "probinsya" feel to it.

The old armoire that housed a huge TV set and the mini bar has been replaced with a huge plasma TV and an oblong shaped drawer with a marble countertop. Yes, the mini-bar is hidden in those drawers.

Even the work desk has been changed. From the old "Lolo desk" that I've been accustomed to, the new work table is dynamic because of the shape and fixtures. Everything has been hidden in drawers (including the ubiquitous fax machine) and even the lamp has been changed. (I miss the chinese girl lamp that was there in the old room.)

The changes have really given the rooms of the Peninsula an updated and more contemporary look. But the downside is that now, it looks like most of the hotel rooms in Manila. (This room reminds me of Shangri-La Makati.) Somehow, I think I'll miss the old rooms that I've known to love.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bed Weather

Slept for about 10 hours last night.

This is really the perfect weather for sleeping.

Monday, August 13, 2007

First year fun!

What a difference a year makes. Imagine, one year ago today, I went home to Manila to visit Elsie after giving birth. I still remember going to Medical City and being introduced to this little bundle of joy named Marcus Jose.

Last weekend, I went home to Manila to attend Jose's first birthday party, and saw that Jose is indeed all grown up!

Just as Elsie promised, Jose's first birthday party was something to jump up and down about. He celebrated it at this place near Cainta Junction called Bounce, and the highlight of the place was this huge inflated play place where both kids and adults can bounce around.

Since we designed and created both Luis and Ella's 1st birthday cakes (as well as Elsie and Mac's wedding cake - making us the official cake maker of the Chua-Dormiendo family!) we did Jose's first birthday cake as well. Inspired by the venue and the colours of the invites, I sketched this:

And thanks to the magic hands of Ate Bullet and Raymond, they took my sketch and created this:

As soon as they opened the play venue, everyone took of their shoes and dove into the fun. Some kids dove deeper than others, like my godson, Luis. He wasn't just having fun in the mini pool, he was drowning in fun!

Ella gamely went up and down the kiddie slide, and it was amusing and amazing how she'd make the same "wheee" sound and giggle the same way each time she did it. Suddenly, I had that "Groundhog Day" feeling. Hahaha.

Apart from the kiddie slide, there was a bigger slide where both kids and the kiddults could use. And use it they did. There was a queue going up, and after sliding down, they ran back to the queue because they HAD to do it all over again. Having slid down twice, I could attest to how fun it was. Much better than the bouncing castle which was only fun for a few minutes, then dizziness sets in after. (Elsie says that it's our age showing.) Back to the slide, everyone had a piece of the action, including Kin and Nic.

And Mark.

I was beginning to wonder whether I had a photo on the slide, then realized that I was holding the camera - ergo, not too many photos of me. That's the peril of being the cameraman, but it was a job I loved doing that day. It was so, so, SO nice to take pictures of excited, happy and smiling kids. Speaking of excited, happy and smiling, Elsie was kind enough to take a shot of two supersized kids.

Ah yes. The joys of parties and being a kid again.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The big squeeze

When I still worked in Makati and would take the MRT going from Cubao to Buendia Station, I'd often brace myself for the huge morning crowd of commuters that pile up after 7:30am (It's usually not THAT crowded before that time.) Sometimes, the crowd would grow too big that they'd stop letting passengers in the station until they've thinned out the crowd by the tracks. It was a "ritual" that I expected and grew accustomed to.

Once in the platform, I'd usually find myself squeezed in between jostling commuters who are simply trying to get in the train. This is when you'll hear people shouting: "Madami pa diyan sa gitna" or "Ano ba! Pumasok nga kayo ng maayos" to the usual "Huwag niyo naman akong itulak!". And once that fracas finishes, you'd often hear people sigh: "Talaga naman... sa Pilipinas lang nangyayari ito."

Well here's a newsflash: This happens in most big cities around the world.

I've experienced this type of jostling and pushing in Tokyo, Barcelona, in the US, and yes, even here in Hong Kong.

Just like the MRT rush hours, they also have MTR rush hours. In the afternoon, it starts at 5:30pm and ends at around 7pm. And that's the reason why I avoid riding the trains during these hours. But in case I can't avoid it, here's the crowd I have to contend with.

This is actually a thin crowd compared to the others I've seen. Sometimes, the sea of people reaches as far as 15 feet across, and there are times when I have to wait 20 minutes in the middle of this type of crowd before boarding a train.

So to people who love to whine about how bad the MTR is, don't fret too much because it happens even in "first world" countries. In some of the countries I've visited, I've also experienced being squeezed in, pushed out of a train, and worse, being pulled out of one! Strange, but true.

Heck, at least I haven't been pulled out of a train in Manila before. And in that aspect, I'll consider myself lucky.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007



Today is supposed to be an auspicious day because of the presence of the two lucky numbers. For the Chinese, 8 signifies luck because the number is formed by a continuous line. A lot of Chinese choose to marry on this day for it is said that the marriage will be blessed infinitely, and as I passed by Hong Kong Cultural Center this morning, there were definitely more couples than the usual.

Two of my cousins were born today: Cristina, who's living in Barcelona, and Harold, who's probably in Manila. (Heck, I haven't seen Harold in AGES!) They've always been considered lucky charms in their families because of this double 8 phenomenon.

Now if two 8s are lucky, imagine what three 8s will bring.

One year from today, it will be 08.08.08, and it's a huge, huge, HUGE red letter day for China because this coming together of three 8s will only happen once in our generation. That's why they scheduled the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics on that date. With such a special date coming up, i'm sure millions of people are already planning to get married on that day, as well as give birth. (Hmmm... I reckon there'll be a rise in caesarian births on that day. Heh.)

Maybe i'll go to Beijing this time next year. It's been a while since my last visit there and watching the Olympic games - particularly the Opening and Closing ceremonies - is definitely worth the trip. Then again, even if I go there, the bigger question is: Will I get tickets for the ceremonies and the games.

Now I'll need more than luck for that.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

As i've said before...

You're entitled to your own opinion. And i'm entitled to ignore it.

I should have this silkscreened on a t-shirt. Harharhar.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lazy for you

After more than a week of intensely hot weather, the skies are suddenly overcast and the air is a bit cool. It's a welcome change, but then again, this type of weather is lazy weather. The best thing to do during a day like this is lie in bed and read magazines. Alas, it's Monday, and that means there are scripts to revise and storyboards to brief in.

And just as Mark and I were talking about a while ago, I'd rather be getting into trouble than working. Harhar.

I wish I can fast forward to Wednesday, then Friday. But wait a minute, it's already the end of Monday, and before you know it, it'll be Wednesday. So I think the FF button won't be needed in this case.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sophie's Choice

Finally, I found my favourite Sophie Ellis Bextor video on the net!

I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it 5 years ago when I was staying in Amsterdam. Then when they started showing this video on MTV, I'd wait for it to come on. It's such a cool parody of competitive ballroom dancing. "The Altogether" is such a cool dance - maybe I should learn it. Harhar.

When Ate and I saw this video together, the first thing she said was: "I love her shoes." Gosh. How typical.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Kitty Litter

While Ate Bullet and I were talking about things to send our nephews and niece in the US, she mentioned how Erika is now into Hello Kitty. When they spoke over the phone a few weeks ago, Erika said that she doesn't want dresses or shoes (which she usually likes) because she wants something in particular.

Hello Kitty.

Yup, like Ate Lissa, Erika is into Hello Kitty these days. I asked Ate what she plans to send, and she answered: "pens, art materials and a bag." Thankfully, Hong Kong is never in short supply of Hello Kitty stuff as well. At Gift Gate alone (who would've thought they'd have Gift Gate in HK) there are so many Kitty stuff for the taking.

But the creative in me whispered: "Buy her something that's not readily available in the U.S. That way, she'll have something that her friends will never have." And that thought led me to the MTR and to these cool kitties.

MTR recently launched a line of Hello Kitty dolls dressed up as MTR employees. I found out about that it's the 3rd week of the promotion and they already released 3 dolls. Good thing I was still able to get two.

It's so cute to see Hello Kitty out of her usual red jumper. I think it's quite novel to see her in regular working clothes - just like what they do with Barbie. The back of the box even has Kitty talking about her "work." Cute!

The only catch is, I have to ride the MTR 10 times a week in order to buy one of these dolls. And that means I'll have to take the train more often than usual.

But if it means putting an excited smile on my niece's face, it's a small, small price to pay.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

She's all that

After being featured in Vogue, In Style, Town and Country and many other magazines, Bea Valdes was recently featured on Newsweek.

This bag immediately caught my eye because it's red - and red is my favorite colour. Then again, all of her bags are eye-catching. The attention to detail is impeccable, and the mix of materials are ingenious. Until I saw this bag, I didn't know that silk, stone and plumage could look so good together. And if you've seen her other creations, you'll see that she really takes craftsmanship to a whole new level.

In fact, I'm in awe each time I visit her site.

But aside from her bags, Bea herself is worthy of being featured in those magazines as a model. Really, she's one of the Filipinas who I find truly, truly beautiful. She looks so elegant. (Ok, I'm officially gushing.)

Beauty and Creativity in one person. Yup, she's definitely all that.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Vintage Vibe

The vintage clothes stores here are amazing. So amazing, I need to space my visits because each time I'm in there, I walk out with loads of things. (Loads = 10 pieces or more.)

Not only is it amazing, it's also addicting. And that's the difficult part.

Since we're on the subject, they just sent me another photo from Maya's wedding. I'd consider this "vintage" because it shows the wonderful people and great friends from the old DY&R-A team. Just like vintage clothes and fine wine, our friendship just gets better and better as the years roll along. It was great seeing them, and I'm looking forward to getting together again.

Hopefully soon.