Monday, March 31, 2008


My recent trip to Shanghai can be best described as "quiet."

For one thing, Rey's place is in Pudong - which is a quieter part of the city. Second, there were no more projects or shoots to worry about, ergo no need to check emails or answer calls every so often. Third, there was no on-line journal access in China, so I couldn't indulge my habit of reading the blogspots and multiply sites of my friends. (Although I must admit, I missed them.) Fourth, I arrived in the middle of the week, so the usual tourist traps weren't as busy.

That said, I enjoyed this short break. It was a good time to just recharge my batteries and clear my mind of the usual work clutter. Being able to just laze around and watch movies, meander aimlessly in a strange street, and walk inside a huge but empty mall for 4 whole days was enough to bring back a sense of serenity in my usually chaotic life.

Since I'm here on a leisure trip, I was finally able to explore more of Shanghai. It was fun to find little pockets of quiet sanctuaries amidst the usual tourist places. Like this small corner in the gardens of Yuyuan.

My friend told me that the market in Yuyuan is packed with people during weekends. Visiting it on a Thursday was a good idea since the crowd was thinner. In fact, I was able to get a nice table at a restaurant that usually has a 2 hour waiting time. Watching people while eating dimsum is always fun.

Even the Bund was unusually silent that afternoon. I'm so used to seeing this area teeming with people - a mix of locals on their way to and from work, plus the obligatory tour groups with their matching caps and funny pins.

Of course, the easiest place to find quiet time is in a temple. This one is right beside a huge but empty shopping complex. I think it's quite sad how a lot of the malls I visited in Shanghai is bereft of people.

When Friday and Saturday arrived, so did the multitude of people. The quiet Shanghai I was enjoying the past days gave way to scenes of chaos that can equal - or even surpass - the ones here in HKG. And that was my cue to leave.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Something old, Something new

It never ceases to amaze me - even if I've seen it more than a hundred times in my 3 year stay in HKG. One day, you go to a shop and get a chockfull of great deals, and the next day, that shop is boarded up and gone.

When the office was still in AIA, there was this noodle shop that I frequented every week. After a two week business trip, I came back and found that the noodle shop was gone. Not only that, it was replaced by a brand new restaurant - in a span of two weeks!

That's how fast the turnover of shops are here in HKG.

A large part of it is because the rent is quite expensive. Imagine, shelling out around P200,000 for a small space! That's probably why the lease contracts for shops here are shorter - 3 months minimum.

That happened to me again today. A few weeks ago, I was writing about this fabulous find at my favorite vintage shop. When I passed by this afternoon, the shop was gone! And there's a new shop that's almost half-done! And judging by how it looks, it definitely won't be the old vintage shop that I've come to know and love.

Well, I just hope that the new shop they're building will be much better than the old one.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another defender!

After 6 months of waiting with bated breath, the results of the bar exams are out.

And as expected, one of my bestest friends passed! (Eep. Caz will slap me silly if she found out I used the word "bestest.")

Congratulations Prichy! We now have another lawyer in the group!

I think we have more than 5 laywers in our block - and more than 5 in my immediate circle of friends. That's 5 reasons to be intrepid in breaking the law. Not.

Warmth Welcome

After almost a week in cold Shanghai, I'm back in the warm, tropical environs of HKG.

The weather in Shanghai was colder than I expected. When I checked on the net, it said that the temperature would be around 17 to 19 degrees. Maybe it was a mistake on the part of the encoder - or the weather decided to play games on us - but it was around 10 degrees during my entire trip. It didn't help that I packed light, and only brought light clothes. Heck, I even had to sleep wearing my jacket!

When I left this afternoon, it was cold and foggy. So foggy that I couldn't even see other side of the harbor, and only half of Shanghai IFC was visible. Add the fact that it was drizzling, and you've got the perfect recipe for a cold vacation.

As the plane was descending to HKG, the pilot said the magic words. "The weather in Hong Kong is a warm 26 degrees." At that point, I breathed a sigh of relief. I'm back! And in a few days, I'll be flying to Singapore.

Now it's time to brace for the heat.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Now that I have a bit more spare time on my hands, I've decided to pack my bags and go back to places I haven't visited in a while. Although I've been doing so much traveling the past years or so, traveling for leisure has a totally different vibe. Years back, I went backpacking around Thailand and reached places even "Bangkok-ians" haven't been to. My Thai friend even commended me for my bravery since some of those areas were centers of insurgency.

I've printed out my e-tickets today, so let the wanderlust begin.

During my past visits to Shanghai, I found the city unremarkable. Maybe because it was because of my age (was quite young when I first visited) or then again, it could be because my mind was on work. (All recent visits were work related, so there really was no time to immerse myself.) The first time I saw the Pudong skyline, my first reaction was: "This looks like a copy of the Hong Kong skyline."

Maybe things will change now that my trip will be a purely leisure one. Plus, I'm excited to see my friend who was recently promoted to be the chief of creatives at the McCann office there.

Then it's off to Joannah's baluarte - Singapore! It's been about 2 years since my last visit, and friends assure me that a lot has changed in the tiny city state. That may be true, but there are 2 major motivations for my trip this year: 1. Gardenia Fruit and Nut bread, and 2. Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia. (They discontinued it in HK. Boooooo!) I'm also thinking of sneaking a trip to KL. Going from one country to another by bus is something I haven't done in a while.

Back when I had a phlog, it was named "The Wanderer" because it best captured my hobby of packing my bags and going someplace new on a whim. Looks like the Wanderer is back.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Philippines In Style

Hopping on to Arnie's blog, I read her entry on how another Filipina designer is making her sartorial statement heard in the U.S. Joanne Reyes is following the Christian-Louboutin-clad footsteps of Monique Lhuillier and Bea Valdez as a style setter with her clothing line, Vicente Villarin.

While this alone was enough to make me smile and feel a sense of pride, I opened the April issue of In Style and found good reason to smile some more.

Yes, Monique Lhuillier and Rafe Totengco have been gracing the pages of this magazine for decades. Seeing their creations and reading about their accomplishments in In Style is quite normal now. In fact, they once did a full feature on Ms. Lhuillier. But what got my attention in this issue wasn't another feature on her (she has some gowns on the fashion page, though, which is no surprise.) The Philippines had two special mentions in this issue.

First was about some bangles that the Editorial Assistant's mum bought in our country. Judging by her family name, this girl is probably Filipino-American. Knowing that a kababayan works in one of the biggest fashion magazines in the U.S. also goes to show how stylish we can be. (Jenny Syquia used to work for Vogue, so I think she's the pioneer in this front.)

Second mention was in an article about designer Tory Burch. When asked what was the best gift to give, she singled out a Celestina minaudiere made by our very own Tina Maristela-Ocampo. Yes, she from the Sari-Sari, Black Shop and Anonymous fame. (Too bad Anonymous closed down already.) Like Bea Valdez's bags, these minaudieres are available in Manila - although, as Mark would say, they're a social sin. At US$1,290 a piece, it's more of a social mortal sin.

Reading something that puts the country on a positive light is always welcome, especially since the local presses feed on negativity and focus on this more. I'm glad that the foreign presses have something good to write about the Philippines - even if it's about our sense of style. This gives me another reason to have a positive image of Filipinos.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pick AX

Last night, my friend asked me where he could buy a pair of Clark's shoes. I brought him to two stores that carried the brand, and he had his eye on 2 pairs. Likewise, I told him that Citygate Mall has a Clark's outlet store, so we agreed to go there today.

As he was going from one store to another in search of shoes, I proceeded to wander aimlessly around the mall. Then, I saw a big sign that made my palms sweaty and my heart palpitate:

"Armani Exchange Jeans upto 90% off"

Like a spaceship caught on the Enterprise's tracker beam, I was locked and drawn to that sign. While walking, my mind was telling me: "There must be a catch. There's a punch line here somewhere." A few minutes later, the rack was right in front of me and there were piles and piles of exquisite jeans. There was one with a silk screened pattern on the side, another one had a rust-like finish, and one pair had round studs all over the pocket. So far, so good.

The rust-finished jeans were my favorite, so that's what I checked out first. Immediately, I checked the pair on top of the pile to see what size it was. The tag said: 38. I took the next pair, and it said: 38. Another pair: 38. And another: 38. Next up was the navy colored denim, and after checking the first pair, the size was 36. The next one: 38. The third one: 36.

There's the catch.

Almost all of the styles were only available in 2 sizes: 36 and 38. My enthusiasm disappeared, and the song "Ironic" was playing in my head. It's a cheap pair of jeans, but none in my size - Isn't it Ironic, don't you think.

As I was walking away, I noticed a few pairs on the floor. They probably fell off while other people were yanking the jeans off the rack. Being a nice customer, I picked up the jeans and put them on the rack. Instinct told me to check the sizes before returning them, and they turned out to be size 31 and 34! Normally, I'm a size 30, but I usually get size a size 32 or 34 so that it would sit nicely on my hips and not on my waist. These jeans had potential, so it was off to the dressing room for me.

They fit!!!

One pair had a nice colored pattern on the back pocket.

The other had strips of denim on the knee area giving it a bit of a skateboarder vibe.

The other one was cut in such a way that the denim weave was diagonal instead of horizontal or vertical. It must've been a bias cut and that means they used more fabric than usual for this pair.

Three pairs of Armani Exchange jeans, and it cost me less than a steak dinner at Ruth Chris! (And since I don't eat steak in the first place, these jeans are a better deal than that big slab of meat. Harhar.) I'm glad I AXed this one.

Monday, March 17, 2008

You know you've been watching too much ANTM when...

We were in the editing studio with the director who shot our latest commercial. After his usual preamble, he proceeded to show us his first edit. Overall, the commercial looked fine. The pace was just right, the message was clear and all the "deliverables" fit in that short span of time. But despite that, something was amiss.

I asked the editor to play the commercial 4 or 5 times, and that's when I was able to verbalize what was wrong:

"You know what, his smile doesn't reach his eyes. His lips curl upward, but it stops there - and that makes him look insincere."

A few seconds after muttering those lines, I felt like I was transported to the judging panel with:

Noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker.
Runway diva coach extraordinaire Ms. J. Alexander.
Fashion icon and living legend Twiggy.

I laughed and apologized for doing a Tyra on them. Then again, I had to say what I had to say because I wanted this commercial to be on top.

*insert ANTM theme song here*

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Corpus Sells

Being a fond jean wearer, I'm always on the look out for new brands. When Keat and I were still colleagues, I remember how we'd go to Seibu and Lane Crawford during lunchtime to check out the latest brands they've brought in. It was in these stores that we discovered Nudie Jeans, Acne Jeans, Tsubi and Sass and Bide.

Nowadays, my source of jean news would be magazines. Occasionally, GQ and Wallpaper would feature "indie brands" which would later become such a hit that it would lose its "indie-ness." One of the brands that caught my eye recently was a brand called "Corpus." This L.A. based brand makes jeans that's got a bit of punk and a bit of rock and roll. While going through their site recently, this particular pair of jeans caught my eye:

I like the fact that it's tapered, but not too skinny. The small pin tuck in front also adds a bit of attitude to the pair. Another good thing about this pair is the wide pockets - a blessing for people like me who have big wallets.

After lunch, I decided to swing by Lane Crawford since it's on the way to the bus station. I went straight to the denim section, and serendipitously, my Corpus jeans were there!

These are the exact same pair that I saw on the site and Lane Crawford carried them. I quickly tried on a pair and thank goodness they have my size.

Look, it even has the pin tucks that I like.

Good thing I passed by the store today, at least I can stop looking at the jeans on the website. (And there are 4 other good reasons for passing by the store, among them is Stella McCartney.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Then and Now

Ate Lissa has a bunch of old family pics in her site. I always get a big kick out of looking at snapshots from the past because I was too young to remember these moments. So looking at them is equivalent to taking a ride in a time machine and seeing how nice and groovy things were back then.

Here's Dad in a groovy "urban militia" outfit. Incidentally, people always tell me that I look like my Dad. He was probably around my age when this was taken and I therefore conclude that what they say is true.

Mom has always been a style maven ever since the 60s. Here she is with a big coif and equally huge shades! Hmmm... these are trends that were on the runway sometime last year.

I also like looking at these photos and comparing them with current ones. It's amazing how we've grown up, but haven't really changed that much.

We were in Scout Gandia with Tomas when this shot was taken. And I'm the one with my back against the camera:

Here we are a few decades later in Italianni's, still with Tomas. I made sure I was facing the camera this time:

Here's Ate Lissa and Ate Bullet in similar outfits when they were little girls:

And here's Ate Lissa and Ate Bullet in similar outfits now that they're big girls:

Gosh! All this reminiscing makes me want to go home, dig up our old albums and spend a day just looking back at the decades that passed. I remember we have a whole lot of albums back there, so it's going to be a whole lot of looking back.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Let's Stalk

One afternoon, while traversing my favorite market near Prince Edward, a little black dress caught my eye. It was made of stretch twill, with white piping, interesting pleats and graphic prints on the hem. Upon closer scrutiny, I found that the dress was ridiculously cheap. And I do mean reee-deee-kyooo-looose-leee cheap! So I wasted no time and went inside the store.

After combing through the racks a couple of times, turns out the dress wasn't there. I talked to a sales clerk (who thankfully knew English) and pointed to the dress on display. She said that they only have 2 of those dresses: one on display, one on the rack. I explained that to her that the one on the rack was gone and asked if she could sell me the one on display.


That was her firm answer.

Just as I was walking away and feeling defeated, I saw an old lady - AND SHE WAS CARRYING THE DRESS!

Unsure whether she'd actually buy it or not, I spent the next 10 minutes stalking her around the store. In case she put that dress down, I'd go into vulture-mode and swoop down on it. Like a vulture, I waited patiently for my prey. In an effort to not look like a stalker, I'd occasionally turn my back and look around. At one instance, I turned around for a few seconds, and when I looked at the old lady, she already put down the dress. AND SOME OTHER LADY TOOK IT!

Not being a quitter, I trailed the second lady around the store, hoping she'd put it down. She had more than 10 dresses hanging from her arm and I'm sure she'll let go of this one. But after 5 minutes, it felt like she wasn't going to give up on that dress. But still - like a stalker - I trailed her, still making an effort not to look obvious.

Like a bad re-run, the second lady put down the dress -- AND A THIRD LADY TOOK IT!

Argh! My stalking skills and vulture instincts were getting rusty. I lost the opportunity to get the dress - twice! Shame on me! Now the bad thing was, the third lady looked like she was going to buy it. In my head, I really wanted her to buy it already just to give me peace of mind. But she didn't. Instead, she sashayed around the store with the pretty and ridiculously cheap black dress on her arm.

Then it happened.

She put down the dress after realizing that it wouldn't fit her. (Duh! She should've figured that out from the first second.) And with vulture-precision, I quickly swooped down, grabbed the dress, and headed for the cash register in a matter of seconds. My persistence (or stalking) finally paid off.

Throughout the course of this entire stalking episode, my mind was asking why I was spending so much time over something when I could easily go to another store and find something better. But after hearing that cash register ring and seeing the ridiculously small amount I had to pay for such a fabulous find, my mind knew that I did the right thing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Seeing my neighbor inside the elevator, I knew that the Spring season has finally arrived. She was wearing this floral skirt that was flouncing all around, combined with a pink cardigan. All she needed was a straw hat and a picnic basket, and she could easily audition for a role in a karaoke video.

The weather outside is also much nicer now. The wind is cool and crisp, but the sun is out and bright. Days like this remind me of Barcelona, sitting at the plaza near Tita Evelyn's house, drinking tea and noshing on bread. A trip to Europe is really long overdue for me. I've been ignoring our Castilian relatives too long.

Now that the days are warmer, it's time to hide away the thick jackets, scarves and gloves. This weekend, I went to Stanley Market wearing cargo shorts and a cotton hoodie. Goodbye to my thick comforter and wool pajamas as well. Now I can go back to my habit of wearing boxers and a short sleeved t-shirt to bed. Hopefully in a few weeks, I can also give my water heater a rest.

There's also a lot of cleaning here at the office. By Friday, the office is going to move to a new building and I'm moving out as well. I've spent the past few days sorting out the big pile of papers and magazines in my office and dividing them into "Keep" and "Throw." For a change, I'm throwing more than I'm keeping.

Ah yes, Spring has arrived and it's the time to clean up and start anew. And that's what I exactly intend to do.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dutti Calls

Without any pageantry or pomp, Massimo Dutti has opened its shop doors in Hong Kong. It has been so low-key, even I didn't know that they opened already. It doesn't help that their first shop is in a hidden part of IFC. Good thing that their second shop - in Harbour City - is in a busier place.

Back when I was in Spain, Massimo Dutti was better known as Zara's older and more expensive sibling. Both brands are owned by Inditex, and they're supposed to cater to different markets. Zara is supposed to be for the early 20s and 30s set, that's why their designs are a bit more colorful and trendy. Massimo Dutti targets the late 30s and 40s set, and that means more tailored and corporate looking clothes. Even the way the store is designed reflects this market - they have more dark wood and the interiors have that "Wells-Fargo" vibe. It actually reminds me of the Ralph Lauren store near the Star Ferry Terminal.

When I first saw Massimo Dutti in Barcelona, it didn't have any appeal to me at all. Maybe it was because of my age, but I was more drawn to Pull and Bear and Zara that time. But looking around the Massimo Dutti store today, I feel like their clothes are more appropriate for me now, and I might come back and try a pair of trousers - proper trousers, and not jeans - one of these days.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Old is new again (otra vez)

Yes, Virginia, the Rubik's Cube is back.

When I saw my 10-year old nephews playing with Rubik's Cubes a few months ago, I thought it was just an isolated case and that it was one of their passing fancies. They usually have their favorite "toys of the month" and this must've been one of them. After seeing a rack of Rubik's cubes in Toy Kingdom, my suspicions intensified. Then as I was in Trinoma last week and saw the neighborhood "bangketas" selling them as well, I knew that it was making a comeback.

I thought: "Hmmm... Only in the Philippines..."

Lo and behold. As I was in the MTR in HK this afternoon, a group of teenagers were busy with their Rubik's Cubes as well. There were around 4 of them and they were in a race to see who'd finish first. Too bad I had to get off Wan Chai and didn't see who won. But this just goes to show that another classic from the 80s has made its way back this year.

Yes, Virginia, the Rubik's Cube is back.

When we were kids, we had a lot of these cubes at home. Aside from the classic 6-color ones, we also had ones that had fruit designs, numbers and patterns. I had such a hard time getting all 6 sides to match, and I could only do 2 or 3 at most. At one point, I was so frustrated that I dismantled my cube and put it back together so all sides would be of the same color. As Machiavelli would say: "The end justifies the means."

Admittedly, I didn't see this trend coming. Then again, some of the 80s toys have been reappearing on the shelves the past few years. (Think Transformers, G.I. Joe, Cluedo) So that means it's not only old fashion trends that are making a comeback, toys are also following suit.

Yes, Virginia. The Rubik's Cube is definitely back.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Old is new again

This spring, magazines are heralding the entry of the "Global Look" as the next big trend. Fashion houses are looking at other cultures and infusing their prints and colors into their new collections. That's why it's no wonder that prints ranging from African to Mexican to Middle Eastern to South East Asian are fast being incorporated into dresses and shirts.

Even H&M is riding the global trend and their Balinese/African dresses have hit the shelves here in HK.

While shopping for fruits this afternoon, I swung by the vintage store since I haven't been there for more than 3 months. My impromptu (and very short) visit was rewarded by this really cool find:

I found a dress that was part Safari, part Singaporean. The silhouette is a bit on the African side - a bit loose and almost caftan-like. The print, though, is a bit on the oriental side. It reminds me of the pattern found in traditional Singaporean clothes, and in the uniforms of Singapore Airlines' flight attendants. The color is on the desert shades, which adds to its "wild side."

What makes this dress a top shelf find (aside from it being very current) is the fact that it's a creation of Mr. dela Renta. That vintage shop is really a treasure trove! It was the same place where I found a vintage Hanae Mori and Norma Kamali.

I wonder when this dress was made? My conservative guess would be about 10-15 years. And if my guess is accurate, this means: 1. What's old is definitely new again, and 2. Oscar dela Renta was really way ahead of his time.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Roomful of Memories

Hotel Intercontinental always brings back fond memories of my youth. When we were kids, we'd go to Cafe Jeepney and eat inside an actual jeepney which was transformed into a dining area. (They don't have this anymore, and that's quite sad.) There are also memories of Easter and the two highlights were 1.) Egg hunting by the pool, and 2.) the fluffy rabbit mascot that would grace the occasion.

There was a wedding I organized here, and one of the principal sponsors showed up wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a vest. (She was the wife of a politician who just came from the campaign trail.) And of course, there's Emin's debut - which I've always marked as one of the most memorable events of my teen life. I always smile when I remember the tuxedos, the cotillion, the midnight bonding sessions and walking to Dunkin Donuts in our formal wear at 3am.

Those memories came rushing back this week because I stayed at the Intercon, and in a room similar to the one that we stayed in. There have been major renovations at the hotel, so the color of the room, the furnishings and the ambience has changed. But despite the make over, some things in the room still remain the same.

One of them is the bed. This is the same king-size bed that the hotel had more than a decade back, and I remember around 6 people trying to squeeze in and sleep here. The headboard and side tables are new, though. What used to be victorian and beige colored is now dark wood and more sleek.

They used to have a couch before, but the lounge chair something we didn't have. Then again, someone just might have had it removed since we were such a big group and we needed as much floor space as we could get.

The window is the same: huge, panoramic and still looking out to Ayala Avenue. What's changed dramatically, though, is the view. When Emin celebrated her debut, Rustan's was still the blue, mosaic building and they haven't build the Ascott (the hotel formerly known as Oakwood) yet.

Staying in this room for a few days was such a nice memory trip. It felt like re-living those fun moments of my youth and I've always liked taking walks down memory lane. There's one thing I don't like, though. Having my name misspelled for the nth time. Gosh, I've been here so many times, and they make the same mistake each time.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Having had too much to eat for dinner, my colleagues and I decided to watch a movie before going back to the hotel. Glorietta 4 was the obvious choice because of proximity, so that's where we went.

Good movies were slim pickings tonight. It was a choice between The Waterhorse, Vantage Point, Dan in Real Life, Kite Runner and My Big Love. Two of these movies I've seen, one was in Tagalog (ergo, my colleagues wouldn't understand), and one was too heavy for our taste. So we ended up deciding to watch Steve Carrell's next foray into the big screen.

By Golly Gulaman (as Superfriendster Madzie would say) this is a sneaky film! We came in expecting a boring, B-movie - after all, this movie didn't have any major buzz in Hollywood. Star power wasn't that powerful - although it had Juliette Binoche and Dianne Wiest - and it felt like one of those indie films that end up straight to video. But it turned out to be "the-little-indie-movie-that-could."

The story was tight and simple. The acting was subtle yet powerful. The dialogue was unassumingly funny. It's almost like this year's "Little Miss Sunshine."

It's rare that a movie gets me laughing, cringing in my seat, covering my face and sighing - all at the same time. "Dan in Real Life" is largely a comedy, but it has drama, and bit of suspense thrown in for good measure. I was glued to the entire movie from the opening scene to the last name on the credits, and very few movies can do that. This is definitely the first best film I've seen this 2008.

My film professor was right when she said that it's best to enter a movie house with no expectations or preconceived notions at all. When you do, there are better chances of you being surprised and appreciating a movie more. And tonight, was definitely a surprise. A big and uber pleasant surprise.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Surprise... Surprise...

This morning, I received this SMS from a friend of mine who's based in Manila:

"Surprise!!! I'm in HK now!!! Let's have lunch naman."

Of course, my reply was:

"Surprise!!! I'm actually in Manila for work. I guess I'll see you when you get back here."

Also, when I had lunch with Lyli last Friday, I asked her to call Sheilah Marie so she can join us. It turns out that she's also in Hong Kong for a holiday.

Talk about timing.