Friday, January 30, 2009

Now this I gotta see!

So it is true! Britney is going back on tour this 2009! Is this my chance to finally make my "watch-a-Britney-Spears-concert" dream come true?

Was checking the tour dates and it's starting this March! Good news: it's going to Atlanta. Bad news: the Atlanta concert is on March 5 - which is too soon. If only I wasn't teaching, then it would've been perfect. But since school ends on the last week of March, that means I can only catch the April leg of the concert.

By April or May, she'll already be in L.A. By that time, school will be out, and hopefully, tickets will be available. Was hoping she'd be in Las Vegas, but they don't have a schedule for that in the website.

Maybe it's about time to visit my family and friends in California this year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hindi ako nag-Kamali

It was an article of clothing that caught my eye even from the shop window across the street. The piece was a white bolero with a voluminous body, but the sleeves were very tapered. The fabric was this sporty, stretchy material similar to what hoodies are made of.

It was sporty, and stylish at the same time. And as I moved closer to the piece, I was thinking of a couple of designers who could've come up with something like this. And as I looked at the label, my hunch was right.

The piece was by Norma Kamali. She's one of the older yet cooler designers I know. From her OMO line to her collaboration with Everlast, she's got the sporty/edgy/stylish combination down pat.

No wonder this bolero has all three.

Monday, January 26, 2009

All Dressed up for the Holidays

The Chinese New Year celebration is probably the biggest event in HKG. It's bigger than Christmas, and much bigger than the Western New Year. No wonder that malls these days are all dressed up in their holiday finery - each one trying to outdo the next.

Even though I've seen this phenomenon SO many times in HKG, I'm still amazed at how much work - and money - they put in their mall decor. I'm glad that I don't work in the marketing department of a mall or else my entire budget for the year would probably go to a mall display that will be up for just a month.

While the executions are a bit varied, the main concept is the same. There has to be lanterns, a cherry blossom tree, and more gold that makes Mr. T look inadequate.

Pacific Place has a huge, silk lantern that hangs from the ceiling.

But as an added detail, they put a lot of Oriental-themed balls and their message was "to get the ball rolling" and "to let the good luck and the good times roll."

Times Square had this impressive golden, gilded circle in the middle of their atrium. You can go inside and sit in one of the many ox-themed metal chairs.

The detailing of the circle is fantastic! This is one case where the execution is more awesome than the concept.

I had high hopes for IFC, considering that they always have a jaw-dropping Christmas Display. Their CNY decor was ok, but my jaws stayed where they were this year.

Their added theme - goldfish! They were swimming about all over the mall.

And of course, the mothership of all grand decors - Harbour City. Since they lack an Atrium, they always dress up their main entrance. (The one facing the Ferry Terminal)

This is the "all-in-one" concept blown out of proportion. They had a lot of lanterns, a lot of cherry blossoms, and not surprisingly, a lot of visitors.

Walking underneath the decor was like being transported into a different world - something they always successfully manage to do. They did it last Christmas with their "Sparkling Train Station." And they did it again this year.

Now I wonder, what did Elements and New Town Plaza do?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I say Hei... Hei...

Better yet, Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Funny, but in my 3 years as a HKG resident, I never spent CNY in town. Like all the expats in our office, this was the perfect time to escape and go on a long-ish Holiday. And now that I've moved back to Manila, I decided that it's time to experience CNY in HKG. How bizaare is that?

And in a related development, here's my first Lai See! Thanks Monna and Junvie for this lucky money.

Here's wishing that this will be the first of many lai sees - and lucky things - in the coming year of the Ox.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Computer friendly

It's been a while since I flew with PAL, and that means it's been a while since I've last seen NAIA 2. Considering that this airport is more than a decade old, it's great how they've maintained and improved it. It's still looks pretty new, thanks to the clear glasses and shiny metal. (Compared to the Suvarnabhumi airport that already looks a bit worn after less than 2 years.)

Yes, it may be small, but it's convenient, clean -- very business-like. Everything's within reach and things are efficient. My only complaint, though, is that they don't have enough restrooms. Plus, the men's room looks like it needs a bit of refurbishing.

What surprised me this time is that they're making the airport tech-friendly. Aside from having free wifi, they also have these scattered all over the North Wing.

They have workstations, ergonomic chairs, charging areas - everything a laptop computer user will need to do business.

Maybe they should do the same for Terminal 1. A bit more refurbishing will do them a lot of good.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yet another source of confusion...

While on the plane, I saw this feature on the upcoming film "Confessions of a Shopaholic." This is another movie I'm interested to see, just to check if it's based on a true story. Harhar.

When the lead actress popped up on the screen, I immediately thought: "Is that Giselle?" Amy Adams could've been perfect for this since she has the cute and clueless riot act down pat. But upon seeing the end credits, it turned out to be someone else.

Playing the lead in this film is Isla Fisher, wife of Sasha Baron Cohen. Maybe it's the hair color, or the sweet, angelic face. Whatever it is, I think I'll be confusing these two girls for one another - just like the first 2 pairs who I'm already confused about.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sheena sabi ko na nga ba...

Guess who's coming to Manila?

Ah yes! I just love it when 80s icons come over and bring back memories of MTV, discos, big hair and shoulder pads. Now I'm wondering whether I should actually watch this so I can strut, pow, and cut it out, no taking and no giving. Watch me baby as I walk out the door...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yes, Coach...

On the MRT, I rode with a lady who was carrying a Coach bag. And how did I know she that the bag she was carrying was a Coach?

Because she never bothered to take off the price tag.

Talk about being proud about the bag you're carrying. I even caught a glimpse of how much she bought it for. Yup, the entire tag is intact.

Maybe this was her way of declaring that her bag was original. And not some knock-off from Greenhills or Quiapo.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Plain Insane

Going to Plains and Prints during a sale is a dangerous thing. You walk in casually, without any intention of getting anything, then BANG! It hits you. Not only are their clothes nicely designed and well-made, they're also ridiculously cheap. So cheap that you end up walking out with these.

Yup, talk about a mother lode. Then again, it's also the store's fault. If they had bigger bags, people wouldn't look like they emptied the stores of all their contents.

But with a word like this, how can't you.

Among the local brands, I find Plains & Prints as the brand that tends to experiment more when it comes to cut, material and embellishments. They take the trends and tone them down to make it wearable for everyday. So while it isn't as generic as Kamiseta, it also isn't too "out there."

Among the great buys from this lot (which means there's another one in the offing) are these beauties:

A classic black shift with a skirt that's a cross between a tulip and a bubble.

A printed halter with just the right sheen.

And a black eyelet and swiss cotton blend jumpsuit. Playful, but still elegant.

After this round of finds, I'm beginning to think that the Plains & Prints sale is Manila's answer to the H&M and Zara sales in HKG.

Labels I love

Nope, I'm not talking about brands. I'm literally talking about labels.

There are two local brands that aren't really that big - unlike Bench, Bayo, Kamiseta or Plains and Prints. Although they aren't that popular, they do have some interesting items in store. I've gotten items there once or twice, and that's when I noticed their labels were something else.

Exhibit A: Kisses and Co.

Not only are they "Made in the Philippines," they're made in "Glamorous Philippines." I can imagine the people making these clothes as 20-something women wearing stilletos, dark nail polish and leather gloves to protect their hands from all that manual labor.

Exhibit B: The Flower Collection.

This brand has been a mainstay at Robinson's Galleria, and I'm glad it's doing well. They've got pretty ok stuff - although not stellar. But once in a while, they come up with gems of pieces.

One look at the label and it looks like your cookie-cutter variety. But if you flip it over, you'll be greeted by something pleasant.

Yup, it's a reminder for all the girls wearing their dresses that someone there loves them and looks out for them.

After looking at these two labels, I wonder why international brands prefer to outsource their clothes in China. They should have all their products here. Not only are they made by Glamorous people, they'll also be loved after wearing them. Now that's something you don't usually get from clothes.

Unless they're Made in the Philippines.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jamie, Jamie, Jennifer and Ginnifer

These 2 sets of Hollywood actresses never fail to leave me "destraido." Maybe it's because their physical features are quite similar, but they're awfully confusing. Whenever I see them in a movie, my first reaction would be: "So is that Jamie? Or is that Jamie?"

This is Jamie King.

This is Jamie Pressley.

Movies featuring either of them require me to sit through the credits just to make sure I'm getting the right Jaime. And if my recollection is correct, Jamie Pressly is the girl from "My Name is Earl" and "Not another Teen Movie" while Jamie King appeared in "Pearl Harbor" and "Bulletproof Monk."

Another set of actresses that have confused me of late are the two "Jennifers."

This is Ginnifer Goodwin.

This is Jennifer Morrison.

When I saw the preview of "Big Stan" last year, my first reaction was: "What? Ginnifer Goodwin is doing a slapstick? That's a big jump down from her brilliance in 'Big Love'." But upon seeing the movie poster and reading the cast list, it turned out to be Jennifer Morrison. But again, Jennifer did look like Ginnifer in that movie. Just like Ginnifer looked like Jennifer in the trailer of another movie.

Gosh. I'm getting confused again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good 'ole Bill

When the lady at Plains & Prints gave me my change, I was delighted with what she gave me.

A ten peso bill! Gosh! It's been ages since I've last seen one of these bills. And methinks that they've stopped producing them, too. So being given one is actually a good thing for me.

I know I have a two-peso and five-peso bill somewhere in my room. Maybe I should start looking for it so this bill will be in good company.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Good 'ole Movies

While waiting for the film "Bedtime Stories" to start, we saw part of the trailer of the new Disney action/adventure flick "Race to Witch Mountain." I'm not sure if this is a sequel or related to the old movie "Escape to Witch Mountain" - a film that I used to watch on TV as a little boy.

Based on the trailer, it has all the elements of a great, kid-adventure movie. Aliens, super powers, villains on hot pursuit, and a mystical mountain where unlimited powers come from. It's a story that I used to write in my head when I was in Grade School. And for that reason, this movie will definitely be on my "must not miss list."

And speaking of old movies, I also found out that they have a remake (or re-telling) of the old slasher flick, "My Bloody Valentine."

This is an uber memorable film for me. When we were kids, we watched this horror film on the betamax (yes, Betamax) over at the Aves' place. The whole film spooked the living daylights out of me, as in! After watching it, I couldn't even go to the bathroom alone. I recall how I'd ask our maids to stand by the door while I peed, and I'd yell every 2 seconds to check if she was still there.

What spooked me most about this film was the last frame. A haunting voice came from the mineshaft saying: "Sarah... be my bloody valentine..." Spooky!

Now that I'm older and no longer spooked by slasher flicks, maybe I should catch this film as well. Maybe, but it'll definitely won't be on my list.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Scary Carrie

No, this isn't about my favorite - and often written about - singer, Carrie Underwood.

Since I've been hooked on the song "I never dreamed someone like you would want someone like me", I couldn't help but remember the film where the song came from.

"Carrie" must've been one of the scariest films of its time. If you watch it from the beginning, it feels like one of those "odd girl out" films like "Mean Girls" and "Pretty in Pink." But once the horror factor of the movie kicks in, the chills follow en masse. And the crescendo, the final "prom night" scene.

And if you think the horror stops there, leave it to De Palma to add a bit more haunting scenes in the end of the film.

This film had a sequel of sorts in 2002. I remember because I was handling the UIP account back then and "Carrie 2" was one of the projects I worked on.

Despite the wealth of visual effects of the sequel, it still doesn't compare to the bare bones, simple yet stunning horror storytelling of the first one.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


The past month or so, I've noticed that the similarities between Manila and Hong Kong are increasing in number. This leads me to the observation that we're slowly being Hongkie-fied.

Maybe it's because of the proximity, or maybe it's because a lot of Filipinos are able to fly in and out of Hong Kong, but a lot of familiar sights and attitudes from that shopping mecca have been manifesting themselves here.

Among them are:
- Clothes disappearing from stores within a few hours. There was this article of clothing at The Landmark which I saw at night but didn't buy. When I came back for it in the afternoon of the next day, it was gone!
- People mobbing Zara and Mango the same day the SALE sign has been put up. When I dropped by Zara a couple of days ago, it looked like there was a mob war inside.
- Brands that Pinoys go to HKG to buy are now in Manila. Among them are Royce, Giordano Concepts, BlueStar Exchange, and even Foccacino! (The little Italian place that I frequented in Miramar Complex apparently has a branch in MOA.)
- When I passed through Megamall Atrium a few days ago, I also saw this:

This was one of my favorite clothes brands when I was starting out in HKG. They've got a lot of Japanese-inspired streetwear at prices that are on the cheap.

Now that HKG brands are on a roll here in good ole' Manila, I wonder who and when they'll bring in Cafe de Coral and MX? If that day comes, I'll definitely be first in line when they open.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Traveling back in time in Tagaytay

Yesterday, we went to Tagaytay to do oculars for a wedding I'm organizing this year. It was a tres interesting trip and we got to see new and interesting wedding reception venues like Balai Taal (which was modern and expensive) and Moon Garden (which was rustic and creepy.)

It was also great to see Hacienda Isabella again after a long time. It's such a wonderful chill out place that I told Mark that we should go there with D' Frendz one of these weekends.

While the places we've seen and the food we ate were great, one thing that I enjoyed about this Tagaytay trip was the music. The radio station that we were tuned in to was playing a lot of old music - ditties from the 80s to the early 90s. Clearly, this was my type of music and for that reason, I was singing at some point of the trip.

Among the lot, two of my favorite songs from the trip were songs that I haven't heard in a-g-e-s! First was this Maria Vidal classic, "Body Rock." Obviously, this song was a hit when breakdance and grafitti walls were in vogue. Makes me wonder if this song was ever in the soundtrack of the movie "Breakdance."

And of course, one of the 80s anthems that was sung by one of the bands that really made the 80s an awesome decade. Starship's "We Built this City." (Uy! How 80s!)

This is one of my all-time favorite songs. And even if the Rage sorta ruined this song at a gig we watched a few years back, it hasn't tarnished the image of this song for me. Gosh! Dig the video! Acid trip! Hahaha!

Now that makes the "trip" in our Tagaytay trip a totally different thing.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Homecomings, Leaps of Faith and Taking Charge

Like I proclaimed 2 years ago, one of my favorite jobs before was making the San Miguel “Year-in-Review” videos. And if I were to make a 2008 year-in-review, that would probably be the title.

“Homecomings” would be the top story of last year. After 3 years of living in HKG (and 2.5 years of asking myself “Why the heck am I here?”) I finally decided to pack my bags and head back home.

This was my last “official picture” in HKG, taken a few hours before my flight back to MNL. I arrived in 2005 with 2 bags – the black carry-on and my Samsonite laptop bag. When I left, I had 3 bags, and 10 boxes. Harhar.

As early December 2007, I knew it was time to go home. Most of my friends and batch mates at work resigned, some headed home and others headed to places with better “working conditions.” A few months after I quit, I found out that even our Managing Director packed his bags and decided to go back to his motherland. I knew that without these folks, working wouldn’t be as fun as it used to. And when work ceases to be fun, it’s the surest sign that it’s time to push the eject button.

Last November, when I had lunch with my former colleagues, they told me how I looked so relaxed and glowing. They also told me that 3 more of my friends quit their jobs. That made me even gladder that I decided to eject.

Aside from myself, a lot of people I know came home to Manila this year. Mark and the gang came home from Japan, Rommel and Lola O came back from Vietnam, and a lot of friends returned from Dubai, Guam and the U.S. Just yesterday, I found out that Gigi – my culinary partner in crime in HKG – also decided to finally come home after 3 years. Looks like birds of the same feather do come home together.

For me, homecoming meant more than just coming home. It meant coming back to people, places and things that I love. Among them was returning to the academe. After resettling, one of the first things I did was go back to school. By the 2nd semester, I found myself teaching again. The amazing thing was, it felt like I never left. It was like an old friendship that felt familiar even if we’ve been apart for years.

The only new thing in school is the fact that my former boss is now part of my faculty. So now, he calls me “boss”. Harhar.

“Leaps of Faith” would be another segment because this was pretty much what I did last year. Whenever an advertising person resigns from his or her job, you can be 98% sure that there’s a plan B or a next step. In fact, when I was CD at Adformatix and my creatives would resign, my first question would be: “So, saan ka lilipat?”

This year, I decided I wouldn’t move to another agency just yet. After those 3 years in HKG, I felt it was time for a sabbatical – a real one. When my “International friends” asked me what I planned to do after, my standard reply was: “I’m planning to just rest and do the things that I’m passionate about.”

Thanks to God’s good graces, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing the past months. Aside from teaching, I’ve been lucky enough to get a lot of good advertising projects in China. The nice thing about this is the fact that I can work from home, and only need to fly to Shanghai or Guangzhou for big projects. The neat thing about it is that I get to choose the projects I like and am passionate about.

On my trip to SHG last October, I was leafing through the in-flight magazine of CX and found that one of the ads during my sabbatical was already being run. The feeling upon seeing the ad was that of pleasant surprise, and it was the same feeling I got after seeing my very, very, VERY first print ad decades ago. (My very first print ad was for Finch Paints – is that brand still alive?)

Another ad that I did while I was in China was apparently picked up by the New York office. They were so impressed with the print piece that they decided to put it on the global website. Meanwhile – back in Manila – I’ve been given the opportunity to write for one of my dream accounts. In addition, I went back to writing lifestyle/business stories for SMC, another thing I missed doing.

All these combined make me feel so productive – yet relaxed. I’m so thankful that God has opened a lot of windows, each one with a spectacular view.

Homecoming and Leaps of Faith are both results of re-learning one important lesson this 2008 – “Taking Charge.”

So that’s what I did, I took charge of my life and did things I wanted to do, things I’m passionate about, and things I’ve always planned to do but was always “too busy” to accomplish. I wrote more, taught more, created more, planned more, and traveled more. In fact, I’ve even traveled with my Dad and Sister this year – something we haven’t done in a long time.

And of course, I shopped more. Let’s not forget that.

While this already sounds like belaboring the point, it’s actually just a small part of what made 2008 a great year. The other highlights of the year are floating in my head, and it’ll be better to list them down to put a bit of organization to the exercise.

That exercise, of course, will deserve another post.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

The first day of the new year was spent at home, hanging out with family, making paninis for everyone (I'm SO getting into the panini groove, thanks to D' Frendz who gave me the panini maker and Mark who gave me this cookbook, along with other deli and cheeses.)

Another thing that makes this New Year special is the fact that I'm not dreading the end of the holiday season. The past few years, when I was still based in HKG, I'd dread the coming of January 1 because that meant I'd be flying back to cold, gray HKG in a few days. But now that I'm home, I can face 2009 more relaxed and without any feeling of stress at all.

Relaxed, happy, surrounded by family and loved ones - now THAT'S the perfect way to start a new year.