Sunday, October 31, 2010

A nice M selection

The nice thing about visiting "America in Asia" is the fact that their McDonald's menu is more diverse and matches the US one.

Although they don't have McSpaghetti or McDonald's Fried Chicken like we do in the Philippines, they have additional items in their menu which is way more interesting and mouth watering. A case in point, their M Selections menu.

The M Selection to McDonald's is what designer collaborations is to H&M. It's their way of introducing something different and something "higher end" to the menu. The ingredients they use are above the usual - like emmental cheese instead of cheddar, or a kaiser bun instead of the usual white bread - and it give their products a richer flavor.

Among the interesting items in their menu, two captured my attention. The first is a Chicken Tandoori wrap. I was drawn to this because it reminds me of the wraps that I'd eat at Ebeneezer's back in HKG.

Second is their gourmet chicken sandwich. The cheese and bun make all the difference.

I hope they bring this menu to a McDonald's store in Manila soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A-Liz diy-Ann

Finally, Ann was dislodged as first call out and top photo. And who took the top honors away from her?


I like Liz since episode 1. She has a lot of potential, and she's got a pretty, bi-racial, somewhat androgynous face. Unfortunately, she has an attitude, which might work against her. There's something about her that reminds me of Dominique (Cycle 10) and Celia (Cycle 12). And these 2 girls were almost there, but not quite.

Maybe Liz will be the exception.

We'll find out in 5 episodes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cold spell

I'm starting to become a Kenny Rogers junkie!

After getting hooked on their yogurt smoothies, I'm now into their cold sandwiches.

I've always ordered their roast chicken or tomato, mozzarella and pesto sandwiches, and they were good. When Mark and I had dinner there last week, I ordered their cold chunky tuna sandwich, and I was immediately hooked! I think I've had the sandwich twice since then.

Wonder if the cold chunky chicken sandwich is as good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Baby, Baby, Baby...

Nope, I'm not a Justin Bieber fan. But I'm thinking my niece Toni is, after all, she jammed with the band and sang "Baby" during the village Halloween party.

But this isn't about the Bieber.

While fixing my Christmas list, I realized that I've got 3 new babies in my list this year. Three of my friends gave birth in 2010, so that means 3 new names to be added.

Baby 1: Liam Lucas (aka Luke) - Dip and Wena's adorable baby boy.

(I swear, this photo of Luke never fails to make me smile. He looks so cute and mischievous in this snap.)

Baby 2: Lluvy Joelle - LJ and Ivy's darling daughter.

Baby 3: Manu - Nep and Ia's bundle of joy.

I find shopping for babies uber fun! Aside from the fact that they don't complain about the gift you give them (harhar) there are also a lot more choices for babies below 24 months old.

There are clothes, toys, crib implements, educational activities - the possibilities are endless! Which means I've got to decide what to give these 3 babies soon, or else I might end up doing last minute shopping for them as well.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Making a list

One more week and it'll be November, and that just heightens the fact that Christmas is just around the proverbial corner. Actually, it feels like Christmas is just a few feet away!

A few years ago, I'd make my Christmas list in August and start shopping for gifts in September. When I was living in HKG, I'd start Christmas shopping as early as - hmmm, January - because it was Asia's Shopping Mecca after all. Despite shopping early, I'd always have a bout of last minute shopping on the 24th of December.

"The list" last year was a bit late, though. I think I drew it up around November and only started shopping that same month. Surprisingly, it wasn't as frenetic as the past years. Which leads me to conclude that planning late might not be such a bad idea.

Since I've got a "master list" from last year, holiday gift shopping will hopefully be less stressful this year. All I need to do now is find the list in my computer, open it up, and update the names and gift allocations on the list. So it'll be very easy to manage the list.

After making the list, it's time to figure out what this year's gift wrapping theme would be.

And that's the more difficult part.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oh sheets!

I know a lot of people who like the smell of "freshly laundered sheets." It's that crisp, clean smell that you get whenever you take a new set of bed sheets out of the linen closet and put it on the mattress. It usually goes up the list of favorite smells, along with "balikbayan box from the U.S."

There's actually a perfume that mimics this nice, clean smell. And not surprisingly, it's called "Clean."

"Clean Warm Cotton" to be exact. It's such a fresh scent, but it's a bit overpowering when you first spray it on. You have to wait for it to settle before the scent of fresh sheets become really pronounced.

I remember choosing between "Clean Warm Cotton" and "Clean Men" when I needed a new scent. And "Clean Men" was the one that I eventually bought. Now that I'm almost finished with that bottle, maybe it's time to switch to a new variant. It would be nice to feel surrounded by freshly laundered sheets all the time.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Red letter day

After a hearty lunch at Salcedo Market, we decided to watch a movie at Glorietta 4. Today's movie choice: RED!

It was a LOT of fun! Seeing senior citizens kick some major butt and blowing people sky high was sure worth the price of admission. I couldn't think of a better group of actors to star in this film. John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren were spectacular! Who says only the young ones can have fun?

But the funny thing was, Mark texted me on his way home. He told me that the movie that the bus was showing that afternoon was: RED!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I give it an F...

... for F-ficiency. Harhar.

St. Scholastica's launched the new on-line grading system for teachers recently, and there was an all-out information campaign to create awareness for it. Aside from the memos and email blasts, they even gave each faculty member a flowchart of how the process is done.

Today, I decided to test drive the new grading system, and I must say that it's very fast and efficient. The log-in was easy, and the grade choices were already on the drop down menu, so it was as simple as point and click.

Ergo, my grading process lasted no more than 5 minutes. (Well, it helped that I only had one class this semester.) How's that for efficiency!

Kudos to the ITDO office for making the grade.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Muji Madness

Finally, they've opened Muji here in Manila!

When I was still living in HKG, Muji was my favorite destination for snacks. Their Japanese rice crackers were yummy, and their breads were light with the right amount of sweetness. Then, their candies and juices were also good.

They tried this "no frills" concept in the Philippines once. The store was called "Anonymous" and it was clearly a Muji knock-off. But for people who haven't seen or heard of Muji, the concept was actually quite original. Anonymous - albeit popular when it started - lost its appeal and eventually closed down. Which is good because it'll pale in comparison to the original.

Was planning to go there this weekend, but Kin told me the queues were crazy and it was madness inside the High Street store. She captured the scene very vividly in words: "Muji is like Forever 21 for 40-somethings!" Brilliant, Kin!

I'll give it a week, then I'm off to invade Muji. Can't wait to get my hands on those crackers, breads and candies!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The best lecture, The best lessons

I've always admired Prof. Winnie Monsod, ever since my college days when my classmates and I sneaked in and sat in her Economics class.

She really knows how to give an excellent lecture. Students were entranced and listened to her every word. Students would sit up each time she'd raise her voice and would relax and laugh out loud each time she'd crack a joke.

She's convincing. She's scary. (I heard that a friend of ours peed in her class due to fear.) She's charismatic. But most importantly, she's real. And she tells the truth.

And those qualities of her that I first encountered more than 10 years ago are still in her lectures today. Just like this lecture that has been going around the cyberworld and has probably been viewed by millions of people - Pinoys and foreigners alike.

I'm glad that this lesson was posted on youtube and gained a large audience. Because in this lecture, she gives us 3 important lessons. These are lessons that are important to me because I believe them, and I've always believed them since I was in my UP days. These lessons are:

1. "If you're going to help the country, you have to be IN the country."

2. "The Philippines needs you more than you'd ever think."

3. "If it's not you, who else will do it."

Like Prof. Monsod, I have great faith in this country. Faith that transcends politics or political leaders. It's faith in the Philippines, faith in the country, faith in the Motherland.

And if only we persevere hard enough, if we change fast enough, and if we believe fervently enough, we can bring our country back to its former glory and take our rightful place in this world.

If everyone in the Philippines listens to this lecture and believes in this lesson, our country would definitely get somewhere. Not to mention be in a much better place.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lux Life

After running out of shower gel and discovering that both Rustan's and SM don't have Ivory Simply Aloe on their shelves, it made me want to run off to Subic and go to Puregold and hoard a few bottles. Alas, it was 9pm and it was too late to go to Subic. Harhar.

Ergo, I had to check out whatever was available on shelf and choose from that stash. Unfortunately, my other favorite - Olay Shower Cream with Ribbons - was also out of stock. So I was left to choose between the usual Dial, Irish Spring and St. Ives.

Then in one corner of the shelf, there was a bottle of Lux Glamourazzi.

I've known that Lux has a shower gel line because we studied their competitive reel when I was still working in HKG. But I've never seen their products here in Manila. They had several variants in SM, some with interesting combinations like "pomegranate seeds and coco oil", but my eyes were drawn to their "Mandarin and Loofah" combination.

After buying and trying the product, it isn't bad. It lathers nicely and the smell stays without being too overpowering. And true to the Lux mission and vision, it really does make skin feel luxurious after use.

I think I've found a new addition to my shower gel armada.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ann a roll!

And with this photo, Ann gets her 5th consecutive first call-out, which according to Tyra is a first in Top Model history.

Tyra also said that Ann is making Top Model "boring and predictable" because of her excellent photos. Part of me agrees, and part of me is excited at the thought of who will dethrone her as top photo in the next few weeks. My guesses would be Kayla or Chelsey.

With Ann's winning streak, I'm doubtful whether she'll get the top prize. It'll be TOO easy. And something tells me she'll have difficulty with the Cover Girl challenge.

I'll just have to wait Ann see.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yes, Yes, Yo(gurt)

Way, waaaaayyyyy before the Fro-Yo invasion in Manila, I was already a fan of yogurt.

My first recollection of yogurt was when Tita Evelyn, Tito Agustin and my cousins from Spain would come to Manila for their vacation. Tita would always buy and stock up on yogurt, and one time, Yoly asked me to try it. I didn't like it the first time (it was the plain variety, so it was like eating sour cream), but it left me curious about it and why my Spanish relatives liked it so much.

In high school, I'd buy and eat yogurt occasionally, and liked it because they started coming out with flavors. When I went to Europe in 2001, that's when my love for yogurt went full blast!

Yogurt was cheap in Europe, so it was a healthy, yummy and cheap snack that I could buy at Albertheijn, El Corte Ingles, and Carrefour. My favorite brand was Danone and my favorite flavor was black cherry. They sold them in packs of 4, and I could finish all 4 in one day!

In Manila, Nestle yogurt is my hands down favorite. Their berry mix flavor is awe-to-the-some!

And when the yogurt ice cream stores started popping up, it just added to my fondness for this creamy, sweet/sour concoction.

Just when I thought that I've tried everything yogurt-y, I discover this concoction from Kenny Rogers!

Kenny Rogers' yogurt shakes are DA BOMB! I saw them preparing it, and they just add fruit, yogurt and ice! No added ingredients, no added sugar, just the healthy goodness of fruit and yogurt. And the result is divine! I tried the grape one for lunch, and ended up buying another glass in the evening for dinner. And that's just one flavor! There are 3 more just waiting to be tried.

And the yogurt obsession continues...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ann top

Ann is on a roll! The ANTM Cycle 15 contestant who's best known for her tall height (at 6'2") and tiny waist (22") is consistent in coming up with great photos this cycle.

If ANTM is true to its mission of finding someone that's very high fashion and has a European flavor, I think Ann fits the bill. She's very gamine and has a sexy androgyny to her. Especially after the makeover. And yes, being 6'2" helps.

My only worry about Ann is how she'll do in the Cover Girl shoot. Let's face it, Cover Girl is looking for pretty-pretty and not awkward-pretty. While she's stunning, Ann isn't the conventional kind of beautiful. As Matthew Rolston described her 2 episodes ago, she's got very strange features that just work.

And those strange features are really going for her. Ann is the first model in ANTM Cycle history to have 4 consecutive best photos. Week after week, she's been surprising photographers and the judges. And audiences, too, like myself.

Will this propel her all the way to the top? Let's wait and see how the cycle will turn out.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Seeing a better world through round spectacles

Today should've been John Lennon's 70th birthday. Google and YouTube dedicated their landing pages to John Lennon, incorporating that iconic scribble which featured his unforgettable round eye glasses.

It's sad that we lost a genius at such a young age. John Lennon was a brilliant song writer and an influential musician. But what made him different is that most of his songs brought home a strong message. One that fervently and genuinely hoped for a better world: through equality, peace, love and positivity.

And among his many wonderful songs, my favorite has to be "Imagine." Because he captured the world as it should be. He was spot on in describing the simple things that will make our world a better place. He didn't sing about complex things, but very basic things that we can do to make lives easier and better for our fellowmen. It's almost like he's telling us: It's not difficult to create an ideal world. It just takes compassion. And hope. And belief in ourselves that we can go beyond our differences and work together towards this goal.

Yes, it's sad that we lost a genius at such a young age. But I'm glad that his songs were able to live on and flourish even after he's gone.

Happy 70th birthday, John Lennon.

I hope someday, you'll join us. And the world will live as one.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Speedy semester

And just like that, the 1st sem in school is over. It zipped by so fast that even I am surprised. It's such a cliche, but it seems just like yesterday when I was giving the class orientation, and tomorrow, I'm giving the class synthesis.

Well, as the adage goes, "Time flies when you're having fun." And considering how fast time flew, it just meant I had a lot, lot, lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Pollo Loco

Before my Seoul trip, my impression is that there would be a pajeon or kimchi store in every street corner. Much like there's a siomai or noodle place in Manila, or there's a Vlaamse Frites place in Amsterdam, or even a Shawarma place in Prague.

Well, there aren't pajeon or kimchi stores in every street corner. But there's one food item that you can find in almost every street in Seoul, and it's something that I totally didn't expect to be uber popular there.

Fried Chicken!

A block away from my hotel, there were 2 fried chicken stores which were full most of the time. And while I was going around the different parts of the city, all these other brands kept popping up.

Yes, Koreans are crazy for fried chicken. That's why the business is not only flourishing, it's making a killing!

According to reviews, Bon Chon is the best of the lot. But since I was pressed for time, I wasn't able to try it.

Good thing they're opening a store here in Greenbelt 1. I'll have to try that out just to see what everyone's so crazy about.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Why Andy Sachs might NOT move to Seoul...

Andy Sachs: So none of the girls here eat anything?
Nigel: Not since two became new four and zero became the new two.
Andy Sachs: Well, I'm a six...
Nigel: Which is the new fourteen.

- The Devil Wears Prada

During my Seoul trip, one of the items that I saw a lot was the tapered, slightly cropped and tailored khaki pants. It's one of the hotter fashion items in the US, and everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Rihanna have been seen rocking this pair of pants.

The fashionable women of Seoul wore it with either a crisp shirt, a billowy blouson, or a t-shirt and a jacket. Footwear ranged from platforms to boots, and the occasional sandal. They were so effortly chic!

It was so chic that I decided to buy a pair for my sisters. So off I went to aPM Mall since there were a lot of them on display on the ground floor. After browsing, I finally found one with the right mix of classic and edgy. My sisters sizes are small and medium, so I asked the sales lady for those two sizes.

When she arrived, the "small" looked more like "minute" and the "medium" was more of "tiny." It turned out that their small is size 25 and their medium is size 26. Their largest size is a 27, and the size 28 automatically qualifies as an XL, but they don't carry that size.

Since when did size 28 become extra large?! And since when did they stop producing pants over size 27?! Gosh, no wonder the girls in Korea are so thin! That's the only way they can fit into the clothes they sell. Harhar.

The thing about these tapered pants is that they fall on the 2nd hip and not the waist. Thus, it should be at least 2 or 3 inches bigger than the waist size. Ergo, it would be difficult to find a pair that would fit my sisters.

Or so I thought.

At Migliore, there were shops that had the sign "Big Sizes Available." And those big sizes were size 28 to 30! Whoa! Size 28 is considered a "big size" in Seoul? How would they classify Western women whose waist sizes reach up to 36? "Humongous" or "Gargantuan" perhaps?

Anyway, I was able to find a pair for my 2 sisters at one store, and they're both large sizes. Since the fabric and construction of the 2 pairs are different, the sizing was different as well. So while they're both "L", one pair is cut and fit smaller than the other.

Now let's not get into the technicalities of sizing. What's important is that I was able to buy a pair of these chic, tapered, and tailored khaki pants for my sisters.

But would Andy Sachs be able to find a pair for herself? That I'm not too sure about.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Palace Place

Apart from interesting street food and cool clothes, Seoul has beautiful palaces. A LOT of beautiful palaces.

Three of the biggest ones: Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung and Changgyeongung are all in the same area, so it was easy to visit all three.

Some Koreans actually don't like how these palaces were restored. They feel that it's too commercial and looks like a movie set. (Well, this is where they shot a lot of the historical Korean novellas like "Jewel in the Palace" and "Queen Seon Deok", so it's technically a movie set.) In any case, these are breath taking "movie sets."

But coming from a foreigner with a fresh set of eyes, each of the palaces have a certain charm. While it isn't as grand or massive as the Forbidden City (which left me wide eyes and mouth agape after visiting it for the first time), it feels authentic. While I was inside, I could almost feel the King, Queen, Empress Dowager, Ministers and Court Ladies walking all over the palace grounds.

These visits also made me more interested in Korean culture and history. Good thing I was able to read some history books while in Seoul. And maybe I should buy boxed sets of "Jewel in the Palace" and "Queen Seon Deok" to brush up some more. It would be nice to read up and relive life behind these palace doors.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Gres Matter

When I first noticed the billboard that advertised Randy Ortiz's capsule collection of Kashieca, I wasn't too keen about it. Probably because his collection for Plains and Prints was quite blah, and the fact that Kashieca isn't really a brand that I look at. Randy Ortiz is really good, and I bought some of his stuff at his Myth store, but his first collaboration with a local ready-to-wear brand didn't really live up to the hype.

After buying gelato in Greenbelt 5, I noticed that the Kashieca store in front was displaying the Randy Ortiz collection already. The 3 pieces on the window display immediately drew me into the store. Actually, "drew" doesn't quite capture it, "suctioned" may be more apt.

The clothes are just fabulous!

One major difference of his Kashieca line with his earlier Plains and Prints line is the material. In this new collection, he used cotton jersey and some silk jersey. It makes the clothes classic and easily wearable.

Then, there's the matter of construction. Each dress was draped beautifully, and it reminded me of Madame Gres - that 40s fashion icon who loved jersey fabric and was excellent in making draped masterpieces. Not surprisingly, after reading the tag on the dress, he was indeed inspired by Madame Gres.

The dresses were so nice, I bought 2 pieces straight out of the box. Literally. The time I purchased these Madame Gres inspired beauties, they just unloaded it out of their stock box.

First up was a calf length, plum colored dress.

It's constructed in a way that the drapes fall all around the body when worn. I asked one of the sales staff to put it on a mannequin and the result was magical.

Then there's the knotted detail on the shoulder. This is connected to a long drape that cascades down the left shoulder.

The next piece is a dress that's a bit Madame Gres and a bit of Lanvin. It caught my eye because it reminded me of the Tilda Swinton "hefty bag" dress. Albeit more form fitting.

Again, nice draping action going on all over the dress.

Another common theme present in this collection is this rolled fabric. It looks and feels like Pizza Hut's stuffed crust pizza! Harhar. But it adds a nice texture and flavor to the dress.

It's very rare that I buy something immediately after I see it. Oftentimes, I'd come back for it after a day or two. But this collection is so nice - and so true to its Madame Gres inspiration - that it became an exception. And something tells me this isn't the last time I'm going to Kashieca for these creations.