Sunday, August 31, 2008

OMG CMG

Today is the last day of Robinson's All-Out sale, so a lot of the shops are going "all-out" with their discounts as well. One of the stores who really pulled out all the stops was CMG - Celine's high-end-ish store. They put up their "P799 and up" sign beside their "P499 last pairs" sign, and these two added together resulted in these:



Actually, the stuff they put out on sale weren't new. I've seen most of them during their sale in Ayala Center last July. In that sale, I remember getting 8 assorted pairs of shoes for the Ates. Thankfully, the shoes that I "missed" during that July sale were still on the racks this August.



It was a collection of colored patent shoes and an "espadrille meets gladiator" pair. If these shoes were bought in HKG, they'd probably cost an arm and a leg. But since it's in Manila - an on sale - the price was more of a fingernail.



Add this to my very long list of reasons why I just love Robinson's Galleria.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Trained foreigners

In the past week I've been riding the MRT, I've noticed that more and more foreigners are taking the train to their destinations. There was a group of Americans who rode from Ayala to Ortigas, some Koreans who went from EDSA-Taft to Ayala, and some Aussies who got on at Guadalupe and got off at Cubao. It's nice to see tourists trying out our public transport. Lucky for those who I rode with, they took the MRT during the non-peak hours. So while it was full, it wasn't sardine-landia.

Some foreigners working or doing business in Manila also take the train to and from their offices. I saw a caucasian wearing a "gusot-mayaman" barong ride from Shaw to Ayala (probably going home for a meeting), and a lady with a computer bag riding from Boni to Cubao. (My guess is she works for a BPO.)

Foreigners riding our MRT is a good sign of how tourist friendly we're becoming. But with more and more people taking the MRT, the management should really start making its operations more efficient and less stressful.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lost in Translation

It looks like Hong Kong style noodles is this year's Zagu. Everywhere you go, there's a stall that sells them. The stalls have different names and different packaging, but the product is one and the same.



The strange thing is, I lived in Hong Kong for 3 years, and I never saw noodles of this type ever sold anywhere. Ever.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mass a-peel

This is something I haven't experienced in quite a long time. My back is peeling! Which once again proves that I did get a tan-of-sorts during our Subic vacation a few weeks ago.

At least, I know that I still have the capability to get dark.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kure-color my world



As Kuya Ers replied via text: "Kurecolor! Blast from the past!"

Indeed, Kurecolor is as current as the first generation square Mac computer. (The one that still came with a floppy disk drive.) With graphic artists now using Photoshop to do everything - from sketching to coloring - gone are the days when Kurecolor was a must-have for any advertising agency.

The past few weeks, I've been looking for those Kurecolor boxed sets. The ones that come in 12 colors per pack. The ones that Kuya Ers and Kuya Nips used to color our storyboards with in Adformatix. But because people don't use it as much, it's not that easy to find them.

National Bookstore has them, but they sell them in pieces instead of sets. The sad part is that their color selection is limited. Out of around 70 colors, they only have 30ish. If we were in the 90s, I would have immediately gone to St. Patrick's to get my art supplies there. Unfortunately, this is 2008 and I don't think they have St. Patrick's anymore.

They aren't available in Hong Kong as well. After going in and out of bookstores and art stores there early this month, they weren't available as well. Gosh! Where have all the Kurecolors gone?

As the saying goes, beggars can't be choosers. I ended up buying 4 colors instead of 4 boxes. These are the colors needed at the moment, so I'll make do with these first.

But I'll be looking for those boxes. And I'm going to find them.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tyra takes a tranny

Here's another reason to look forward to September.



One of my favorite guilty pleasures is back on air! The 11th installment of America's Next Top model will be on next month, and Ms. Banks has another trick up her asymmetric Lanvin sleeves.

After introducing full-figured women and twins in the competition, she's pushed the envelope again and is introducing the first transgendered contestant this season.



Meet Isis. And given that she's the "special girl" in the battle for catwalk supremacy, my guess is that she'll either be one of the first to go, or the last (wo)man standing.

Maybe they should have Christian Siriano as a guest judge this season. Hot tranny mess anyone?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wake me up when September starts...

From the posters and banners that have been put up all around mega-Manila, it looks like September is going to be a very exciting month.

First, there's the "Philippine September Shopfest 2008" which is the country's answer to the shopping months of Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. I'm a bit worried though because a lot of the big malls had their sale months last July and this August. So it's either only a few malls will participate or the malls will have to go on sale mode again.

Second, Plain and Prints will be launching a capsule collection from Rajo Laurel. I noticed the poster at their branch in Gateway. It was a black and white poster of the designer with Paula Taylor modeling 3 different white shirts. Overall, the poster looked very "Gap Designer White Shirt Collection" to me - so much for originality. But the shirts the models were wearing looked very original. I asked the saleslady where the shirts were, and she said: "Sa September 1 pa po siya i-la-launch."

Third, InStyle usually has its biggest issue in September, and it's one issue that I always look forward to. This makes me wonder why September is usually the biggest issue for all American and European fashion magazines. Maybe it's because of the season's transition.

Fourth, I'll have a speaking engagement that I've been looking forward to. Fifth, Mark is celebrating his birthday in Manila after 2 years of celebrating it in Japan. Sixth, Dad and I are going on a trip out of the country. Seventh and Eighth is out there somewhere, and they'll probably pop out one of these days.

Yup, something exciting this way comes in September. Thank goodness it's just a week away.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sales (ladies) Talk

The past week, I've had a couple of very, verrrry interesting experiences regarding salesladies in different malls. Surprisingly, these were pleasantly positive experiences, and not the usual "lady-who-follows-you-around-incessantly" or "lady-who-doesn't-even-bother-to-check-before-saying-it's-out-of-stock" kind of stories.

In fact, when I recounted these experiences to friends, I had that look of wide eyed wonder instead of the scoffing that usually follows saleslady stories. Among those experiences, these 2 are most noteworthy.

THE SALESLADY FROM METRO GAISANO

Who would have thought this department store has such fashionable shoes? There was a pair of yellow and black patent shoes that look like they just popped out of the pages of InStyle. Seeing that it would be perfect for Ate Bullet, I called the saleslady and asked if they have it in size 40. She left for the stockroom, and came back with the pair I asked for.

I thought of doing a "Grace" and put my quality control skills to the test. After examining the pair closely, I noticed a scratch on the right shoe. So, I pointed it out to the lady and she immediately went to the stockroom to get another pair.

She re-emerged with another box, and some bad news.

SALESLADY: Sir, wala na pong size 40 nung yellow and black. Ang meron lang po, itong fuschia and black. (removes pair from box and shows me.)
ME: Are you sure?
SALESLADY: Opo sir. Dinouble check ko na po and last piece na yan. Ito po, sir. Tignan niyo na rin.

She handed me the fushcia and black pair, and after examining it, they didn't have the oomph of the yellow and black one. Not wanting to give it up (especially since it was the last one), I ignored the small scratch.

ME: Sige, itong yellow and black na lang ang kukunin ko.

At that point, the saleslady looked at me, folded her arms across her chest, tilted her head up with a hint of pride, and said:

SALESLADY: Well, I don't blame you. Mas maganda naman talaga ang yellow and black.
ME: (silenced)

SALESLADY FROM MANGO IN TRINOMA

This didn't happen to me, but I was in the vicinity of the saleslady and the other customer.

CUSTOMER: (rummaging through a pile of jeans) Wala ba kayong pang-lalaki?
SALESLADY: Wala po, Ma'am. Globally, Mango is known as a woman's brand, so hindi po kami nag-ca-carry ng men's clothing. Although sa Spain po, nag-introduce na sila ng men's line for Mango, pero hindi ko ho alam if we'll carry it here.
CUSTOMER: Ah, ganon ba.
ME FROM AFAR: (silenced)

Hmmmm... the quality of our salesladies are improving. Someone send them to SM so they can train those girls how to do it right.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Creative Comeback

Now it's a case of "brain gain."

After talking to a friend who's also from the advertising biz, I found out that a lot of the great-expat-genius-creatives have decided to come back home this year. Among them is my former boss, THE prolific creative genius Lola O, who rejoins her old agency Campaigns.

There are also ECDs from Vietnam, CDs from Singapore and Indonesia, MDs from Malaysia and other BUDs, also from Vietnam. I was reading an article on the MD who joins an all-Filipino advertising agency. He said that the advertising industry in Manila is more exciting and less stringent, plus the clients are more open minded. In addition, he sees how much local advertising is growing, and he wants to be here when it does.

I definitely concur, and those words could very well have come out of my own mouth. As I told my friends - a CD and ECD in Guangzhou and Shanghai respectively - doing great work is more gratifying if you do it at home.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My kind of vacation

Being a long weekend (and a longer weekend for Quezon City), we decided to spend 2 days in Subic. Mark, Bonique, Vince and I left early Saturday morning and took the much praised SCTEX. (Grace and Ric followed a day after.) And yes, it is worthy of all the praise it's getting. Driving along that expressway is like being in a different country.



Subic is my kind of weekend getaway, if only for its proximity to Manila. Another reason was pointed out by Mark and Bonique - people in Subic are nicer, they follow rules, are more polite, and the SMBA area is orderly. As Mark was telling Ivy, SBMA should be a model to other industrialized areas in the Philippines. Finally, it also allows me to indulge in all my favorite activities without even leaving the base.

In just a span of 2 days, we were able to do all these:

1. Swim - If I remember correctly, the last time I went swimming was in Muikamachi. That was about a year ago! Good thing the hotel we stayed in had a nice pool, so we spent most of the morning swimming around until we started to resemble prunes. Aside from the pool, there was a beach in our front yard. So we also went wading, watching a guy zoom around on a jet ski, and marveled at the nice lighthouse on the other side of the beach.



2. Shop - Part of Day 1 was spent at Freeport Subic and Royal Subic Duty Frees. This is the perfect place to shop for chocolates, snacks and toiletries since it carries a lot of brands that we don't usually find in Manila. The fact that the prices are in dollars make it seem cheaper, too.

3. Savor - This trip was one big food binge! We had meals at Meat Plus (the pork rib meal that Mark had was massive), Magic Lagoon (which serves Filipino comfort food and features lazy ducks meandering about), The Coffee Shop (amazing how it's still there, and still serving the same huge taco. They don't serve the usual iced tea, though.) and of course, the huge meal at Xtremely Xpresso. (The best value for money!)

4. Sleep - The accommodations we got were very comfy, and the place was like a small Mexican villa. (With a Korean name.) After all the traveling, eating and shopping, this was definitely the best thing to do.

One thing we weren't able to do, though, was visit Grande Island. But no worries, there are more long weekends ahead - and more opportunities to go on another Subic vacation.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

08-08-08-08

Despite the monumental preparations, the grand opening ceremony and all the pomp and pageantry, I think that the 2008 Olympics will now - and always be - remembered as Michael Phelps' Olympics.



Just caught the 4x100 relay on TV and Team USA won the gold. And with that win, Michael Phelps gets his 8th gold medal! He just knocked Mark Spitz out of the Olympic History books and the anchors were saying that he's now the most successful Olympian in the history of the games.

Way to go Mr. Phelps!

Yes, I've got a swimming hang-over because we just got back from Subic and spent the day going around beaches and swimming. And I've got burnt skin to prove it. Harhar.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fort knocks

It's been less than 2 months since my last visit to the Bonifacio Global City. In that short time, the landscape has changed a lot. Buildings are on the rise, new condominiums have opened, foreign embassies have opened its doors, and the area formerly known as Fort Bonifacio is really shaping up to be a global city.



A drive around the area makes you feel like you're not in Manila. The roads are organized and the bus stops ONLY at the designated area. People and cars follow and honor the pedestrian lane. I saw an ISM school bus drop of little foreign kids and their big foreign moms would pick them up at the gate of their buildings - for a minute there, this place felt like HKG.

Another sign that this area is growing as an alternative business center is the fact that the Shangrila Hotel group is opening their 5th property here. A Shangrila at the Fort hotel is set to open in 2011, and by that time, most of the new office buildings, embassies, museums and malls will be open.

I'm so excited to see how this new city shapes up.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Un-Weisz decision

Today was a slow day so I decided to bring out my old DVD copy of "The Mummy" and watched the film that spawned 3 parts.



As many friends and critics have repeated, the 3rd version of the film is the absolute worst. In terms of story and action (or lack thereof), this is the weakest link. And after watching the original film again this afternoon, I found another reason why the 3rd installment bombed.

They replaced Rachel Weisz! In the first 2 Mummies, she played Lynn Carnahan-O' Connell with such aplomb. Her combination of great acting, good comic timing and action credibility added up to a character that was part Lara Croft and part Lucille Ball.



The girl they got to replace her - Maria Bello - didn't live up to the first two performances. As one magazine said: "She was trying too hard to be British that she forgot how to act."

During the last minute of "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," John Hannah's character hinted on a sequel - probably set in Peru. (Hmmm... I could smell a lost Incan civilization story here.) If they do make a sequel, try and get it right this time. And try and get Rachel Weisz back in the film.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Still the brightest

Yes, the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was visually stunning, but it still doesn't compare to my all time favorites. Especially the part when the torch is lit.

Hands down, the best torch lighting ceremony award goes to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.



The 1996 Atlanta Olympics comes second, and is my sentimental favorite. I remember watching this and I was holding back my tears as Muhammad Ali - afflicted with Parkinsons - lit the torch with a combination of grace and difficulty.



Coincidentally, my family has roots in both Barcelona and Atlanta. So there's an element of home grown pride in it.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Economies of Sale

Fast fashion and high street brands usually have simultaneous sales around Asia. When they put up the "sale" sign in front of Zara in Glorietta, I know that they're unfurling the same beautiful sign in front of stores in IFC, Emporium, Ngee Ann City and in Shinjuku.

When I was in Tokyo last July, people were scampering inside Zara because the sale had begun. As much as I wanted to join in the fray, I didn't. I'd be in HKG a few days after, so it would be better to shop there. It turned out to be a wise decision.

This afternoon, Mark and I went to Trinoma and we found ourselves - coincidentally - in front of Zara. To find out whether my loot from HKG is cheaper here than there, I decided to check out the place. The TRF jeans were more or less priced the same - the difference being a negligible P20-P50. But the Zara Collection dresses were way, way cheaper in HKG - by half! Realizing how much my savings were made me smile with pride.

Meanwhile at Mango, the sale items in Manila are cheaper than HKG. There was this floral frock designed by Penelope and Monica Cruz that I was eyeing at Gateway a few weeks back. Thinking it would be cheaper in HKG, I decided not to buy it yet. But after seeing the same dress at their store in IFC, it turned out to be around HK$80 more expensive. That HK$80 is enough to buy another shirt or two. Needless to say, I passed on that one. (I hope that dress is still available at Gateway.)

These realizations allowed me to look at my sale trip from an economic perspective. The savings I got from shopping in HKG was enough to cover the price of the ticket and food for the entire trip. Ergo, the whole exercise of going there and raiding the malls was worth it. Economically.

Then again, maybe this is just me justifying my actions.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Un viaje muy bien

Easy come, easy go. A few days after waking up with an urge to go to Hong Kong, I'm now back in sunny Manila. (The weather in HKG was crappy the whole time I was there, ergo, seeing the sun is such a welcome sight.)

Even if it was a very short trip, it was a very fruitful one. I've accomplished the "missions" that I came there for. Got my mail, went to the bank, and I was also able to have dinner with Alex and Ella at El Taco Loco last night. The funny thing about this dinner was the topic of conversation. We were talking about plane malfunctions and traumatic flights. The funny thing? I was flying the next day! Harhar.

Then there's the shopping. Yes, the shopping. Really, the shopping.

Went home with major loot from Zara, H&M and Mango. I swear, the Zara stuff I got was dirt cheap! I had to restrain myself! Then there's the unbranded skirt that looked and felt very, VERY Issey Miyake. Finally, I took a quick trip to Lane Crawford and was pleasantly surprised to see two familiar - but haven't seen in a while - brands.





In Barcelona, these brands are as frequent as Bench is in Manila and Giordano is in HKG. My cousins are big fans, and I've seen how "happy camper" they get whenever we go to La Illa and raid their stores. Strangely, I haven't noticed these Spanish brands in store before - maybe I was too focused on Proenza Schouler and Lanvin.

Entonses, it was useless to resist. Now, there are pairs of Castaner shoes and a Don Algodon blouse just waiting to be unpacked. And I should really start doing that... pronto!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Closed to you

As I told Ron, this is the first time I've experienced something like this in HKG.

There's a storm in town (Igme, probably) and the typhoon signal has been raised. As a precautionary measure, everything is closed! The bank - which is the reason why I'm here - is closed. Malls are closed. Coffee shops are closed. Supermarkets are closed! Thankfully, McDonald's and 7-11 are still open. It's so comforting to know that some things in this world stay the same.

Looking around me, all I could see were closed metal doors, glass panes with big X marks made of packaging tape, small tree branches littered along the pavement, and empty streets. Yup, HKG looks like a ghost town today. The place looks emptier than it does on Chinese New Year. (The emptiest season of the year.)

In fairness, the rains are quite strong. This morning, I stepped out to buy breakfast across the road. By the time I got to the other side, by clothes were semi-drenched! And to think I was carrying a huge golf umbrella. Sheesh!

Making matters worse, I've planned the entire day today like clockwork. Now, it's as if my clock ran out of batteries and just stopped.

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Just another panic Monday

I've been trying to schedule a trip to HKG, but thanks to the cool weather in Manila (and the sales), I was reluctant to leave. But yesterday morning, upon waking up, I thought: "I'm going to HKG today."

Called PAL and the reservations agent proudly declared: "The 2:50pm flight is still wide open." So, at 8:30am, I got a seat and decided to fly off on a Monday.

Since it was an early afternoon flight, I had enough time to do some errands in the morning. Come 11:30am, I was packed and ready to go to the airport. The usual Monday traffic was nowhere to be seen, and by 12 noon, I was in NAIA 2. That gave me 2 hours and 50 minutes to laze around and surf the net.

Or so I thought.

As I checked in, I realized that I forgot my HKID at home. Although this wasn't a big deal since I could always use my passport, carrying it around would still be a better thing to do. For 10 minutes, I was panicking and trying to figure out what to do. It was either: just go without my ID, or go back home and get it. After all, the flight was more than 2 hours away.

I took the risky route and decided to go back home. Thankfully, there were a lot of metered airport cabs and they were more than willing to do the impossible. We had a maximum of 1 hour and 15 minutes to go from NAIA to Cubao then back. The driver knew my predicament, so he went on "super driver mode" and took on the challenge.

Throughout the journey, my heart was pounding. "Will we make it?" To further irritate myself, I formulated a timetable in my mind. We had to be in Cubao by 1:15pm and the airport at 2:00pm. The self-imposed deadline added to my anxiety.

By 1:10pm, we were in Cubao. So far, so good. On the way back to NAIA, there were bottlenecks in Santolan and Shaw. Panic mode! But as we exited the Shaw Underpass, it was clear roads from thereon in. And by 2:00pm, we were at NAIA 2. Timetable followed. Crisis averted.

I was at the waiting area by 2:10pm, with 20 minutes to spare. The flight boarded and left on time. By 5:00pm, I was in HKG. Woohoo!

Since it was still early, I proceeded directly to Harbour City to see the remnants of the sale season. First stop was Zara, of course. And when I got inside, another panic attack!

They were on their final markdown and the goods were really cheap. Really, really cheap. It was slim pickings, though, since they've been on sale for a month already. But thankfully, there were still some nice items at even nicer prices. This led me to go panic-buying for about half an hour. Then it was off to H&M where - fortunately - there wasn't too much to panic about.

Gosh! Too much panic in a day! I hope it won't be as bad tomorrow. I'll be visiting the other branches of Zara and H&M.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Making the Moss out of it

The last time I really took time to explore Topshop/Topman was during Xtine's Manila visit last February. While waiting for Princess Shash, Little Fiesta and Kuya Ers, we went to the Greenbelt 3 branch of Topshop and did some serious retail therapy. But after that - strange as it may seem - I haven't been shopping there again.

This August, the UK high street brand is having their "End of Season Sale." Seeing it as a perfect opportunity and excuse to go, I finally set foot inside their store.

After a 15 minute walk around Topman, nothing caught my eye. Maybe I outgrew the "Topman style." Nothing appealed or called to me. This is unlike Zara and H&M where something always "calls to me" whenever I visit. Anyway, after my short trip, it was off to the next door neighbor, Topshop. It was a very wise decision because they had more - much more - covet worthy items. Most of them are from her.



Hands down, this is my favorite sub-brand of Topshop. I've always liked Kate Moss' laid back and "I-didn't-give-much-thought-to-this-get-up" style. And unlike other celebrities who have their own fashion lines, Kate designs clothes that reflect her personality and stuff that she'd actually wear. Like these:



There were so, so many fabulous finds, and the sale price made it even more covet worthy. There was a silk and tulle tunic (or dress if you dig the micro-mini look), an asymmetric tunic (or dress) with a zigzag pattern, a charmeuse silk dress, and my favorite, the beaded t-shirt.

Gosh! The workmanship behind this shirt is amazing. But not as amazing as the price I paid for it.



So many finds from just one store. Now I'm tempted to scour every branch that carries the Kate Moss line and make the most of this sale.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Gone haywire-less

This is one sight that I just can't get used to.



Since Bayantel - then PLDT - introduced their wireless landline service, I've seen a couple of people carrying their landlines in public places. Honestly, it feels more like "brandishing" than "carrying" because they often lug it around like it were a mobile phone. (Well, technically it is a "mobile" phone.)

Once, we were having lunch at Chicken Bacolod and the ladies seated on the next table had a landline alongside the plates of pa-a, pecho and garlic rice. Another time, there was this guy riding the jeep and a ring came from his backpack. He took out the wireless landline and answered it. Bizaare!

Yesterday, two ladies were walking along Araneta Center. One was carrying the receiver and the other was carrying the handset. How's that for cooperation.

I'm not sure if this wireless landline is easier to get than a mobile phone. But judging from all the phone stalls in St. Francis Square, Greenhills and Ayala Center, I doubt it. I hope this kind of phone won't become a trend because there's just too much of it that I can handle.