Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bring it (Cotton) On

We were on our way to a shoot in Binondo and we passed by this swanky new mall in Divisoria.

Yes, you read it right. There's a swanky mall in Divisoria. It's called Lucky Chinatown Mall and it's like having a mini-Eastwood mall in Manila.

What struck me most about this mall wasn't the fact that it looked like a fish-out-of-water. It was the fact that I saw a big sign outside that said Cotton-On!

Can this be THE Cotton-On? Are they really opening in Manila? And in Divisoria?

We shall see.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Access to Accessories

Once upon a time, when people wanted to buy accessories, the only place they could go to was Marcella's. (Yes kids, there was a time when Marcella's was ok.)

A few years later, Cindy Carol came along. And another few years later, you could get accessories at Girl Shoppe. Needless to say, it was slim pickins back then. It was more than slim, it was super slim.

But these days, accessory lovers are spoilt for choice.

For starters, there's the Accessories department of SM Department store. They're always stocked with nice items, like that tasseled necklace I saw a few days back.

Head off to the mall and you have Aldo Accessories, Accessorize, Parfois, Forever 21 Accessories, and some other smaller brands. So, the fashionistas of today really have better access to nice accoutrements.

I dropped by Robinson's Place after school, and I saw this new accessory store in their Midtown wing. It's a shop called Diva, and judging by the price tags, I reckon this is an Aussie brand.

They've got a nice selection of accessories that range from classic (pearls, hardware) to trendy (feathers, tassels.) And surprisingly, they're priced very well considering the quality of the items they carry.

I didn't have time to really look around since I was about to go home. But the next time I'm in that area, I'll definitely allot some time to know this Diva a bit more.

Monday, February 27, 2012

My life as a Streep-er

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Meryl Streep's work. From her earlier movies (early for me, at least) such as "Death Becomes Her" and "Bridges of Madison County," to her more recent gems like "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Mamma Mia," it really seems like Meryl really can do no wrong.

This year, she received her 17th - yes, seven freakin' teenth - Oscar nomination. Who gets something like that?

Meryl Streep. That's who.

Unfortunately, the favorite to win Best Actress for the Oscars this year is Viola Davis. And yes, it would be nice if she wins. But last night, when Mark and I were talking, we were secretly hoping for an upset. We really wanted Meryl to win.

And guess what? It's an upset!

Her 3rd Oscar after 17 nominations. Way to go!

Looking forward to seeing you on the Oscar stage again next year.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

M&Ms with a twist

Last Friday, I got a box of chocolates (more on that on a separate post) and one of the items in the box was something new to me. It was M&Ms pretzels!

I can't believe I haven't come across nor tried this new M&M variant. After all, I'm known for discovering new chocolates and candies. Maybe it's because the packaging is the same color as M&Ms Crispy, that's why I didn't notice it.

This chocolate is uber duber good. The packaging captures the flavor exactly. It's sweet and salty at the same time, which is a perfect twist to the M&Ms that we know and love.

Must. Buy. More.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's a spring thing

When I was a kid, there was this Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs says: "In the spring, a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of ... mischief. And carrots."

It's spring in some parts of the Western world, and judging by the clothes that are coming out on that side of the world, it seems like "In the spring, a fashion brand's style turns to thoughts of watercolor flowers." And this can be exemplified by these items that are coming out in Greenhills. (Which means these are clothes that are coming out on the racks in the US this spring.)

First, there's the ultra colorful and festive looking shift dress.

To soften the overall look, it has a nice, draped cowl neck. There's actually a small piece of metal inside to make the cowl fall into place properly.

The print is so chic. It's got this Van Gogh vibe to it.

If the first one is on the dark and elegant side, this second piece is more youthful and refreshing. It feels like a "summer party on the beach" kind of dress.

It has this venus-cut action going on, but it's a bit modified because the side is not as thin as the usual venus-cut dresses.

The print is also done in a watercolor effect, but the colors are in the aqua and periwinkle territories which make it so easy on the eye.

With dresses and prints like these, it'll definitely be so easy to spring into action this coming season.

Friday, February 24, 2012

FMM: Sounds like the office.

When I was still working at San Miguel Corporation, my cubicle was near the area of the AV/Editorial artists. One of the guys seated near my cube was Mr. Ro - a quiet but funny art expert.

He was a lot into music, and one of the songs he liked to play was this Edie Brickell ditty entitled "Good times." I remember this song clearly because whenever I'd get stressed out with Newsbreak or with the Year-in-Review, this song never failed to calm me down.

Ah yes, those times at the San Miguel office were good times indeed.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Yesterday, on my way to a meeting, I passed through SM Makati in order to get to the cab line. Since that start of the line is near the Forever 21 entrance, I naturally passed through that area. (Yeah, right.)

Near the entrance, there was a silk shirt dress that immediately caught my eye. I stopped for a few minutes to examine it, and I was really floored by how nice it was. Suddenly, the sales girl came up to me and said: "New arrival po yan, sir. Kakalabas pa lang today."

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to examine or buy it. But since there was another meeting in Ortigas that same afternoon, I figured it would be available in Megamall anyway.

Surprise, surprise. It wasn't available in Megamall. Apparently, it was one of those dresses that were in limited stock and was sold only in Makati.

So today, I decided to pass by Forever 21 in Makati en route to my meeting at Unitel. Immediately, I checked out the rack where the dress was yesterday, and there was just one piece left.

One piece left! And in Ate Bullet's size!

It was a sign. It had to come home with me.

And it did.

This dress has such a vintage vibe to it. It's something that Grace Kelly would wear before. And something that Dita Von Teese would wear today. It was vintage in a bombshell kind of way.

The print was also very vintage. The deep, chocolate brown color lent itself well to the concept, and it just made the dress look even more authentic.

To add a contemporary twist to it, it had a leather belt, also in brown.

Add all these up, and you've got a dress that's the epitome of Vintage Chic!

And I got the last piece.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Following women

Whilst I write on my blog regularly, I can't say the same about my blog reading habits.

I'm not in the habit of reading or following a blog, and the last time I really did that was when Mark was in Japan and he'd chronicle his experiences inside the academic jail erstwhile known as IUJ.

But the past months, I've found myself constantly reading 3 blogs. They're very different in content, tone and personality. Even the age range and personalities of the writers are very disparate, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy reading them all at the same time.

Oh, there's one common thread among the 3 blogs, they're all written by women.

First is Paula Taylor's blog. I liked watching her during her stint as a VJ and during Amazing Race. And she's also one of the reasons my sister got hooked on Plains and Prints.

Second is the blog written by Daphne Osena - Paez. I'm a bit fan of architecture and houses, and I often watched Urban Zone when it was still shown at an earlier time slot. But since it's now shown a tad bit too late, I just read about the houses on her blog.

I like her writing style, too. It's very conversational and casual - almost like hearing her talk. And as my journalism professors always tell me, that's a hallmark of a good writer. Aside from that, I've always like Daphne, ever since I first worked with her on the Myra 300-E campaign a few years back.

Finally, for my fashion, music and art fix, I read Emily McEnroe's blog entitled "Magenta Lightning." I like how she writes, and her view of what's cool. She's the kind of girl you'd want to be around, which makes this blog a place that I'd like to hang around in.

Another good thing about these blogs is that it links to more interesting writers - both men and women. And I have a feeling that I'll be adding more blogs to my frequently visited sites soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Closed to you...

Out of the blue, I thought of the Serious Spicy Chicken at Jamaican Pattie. So, I dropped by their stall at Rustan's Gateway.

It was closed.

I also needed to pay bills, so I decided to drop by the HSBC branch at Philam Life building in Cubao.

It was closed.

Hmmmm... there's a pattern forming.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Suno or later

It's no secret that I'm an admirer of prints. I've always been drawn to colors and repeated patterns ever since I was a kid. Whether it was the trompe l'oeil prints that adorned San Agustin Church, or the paisley print on my Dad's tie, I'd always take time to stop and study prints.

This is one of the reasons why I've always liked looking at the work of Diane Von Furstenberg, Matthew Williamson, Mary Katrantzou, Marimekko and Etro. They have an unabashed love for prints, and they even make their own fabric designs. I admire them for doing that because the combine two creative processes in one.

Another fashion brand that I discovered recently also has a unabashed love for prints. And after seeing some of their work, I was floored by the quality of the prints and the thought process that goes into each one of their creations.

Suno is the fashion line of Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty. Their creations are characterized by their wild prints and their attention to detail. I like how they take a seemingly unfashionable concept and turn it into wearable art. For example, they had this print inspired by a glass blower:

And they transformed it into this chic dress.

This beautiful vector like print looks like something out of a digital artist's portfolio:

And they were able to transform it into this relaxed dress.

Suno is fast gaining a following, both in the US and the rest of the world. I hope that one of the fast fashion brands will pick them up and do a collaboration with them sooner or later. That would be another collaboration worth waiting for.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Subic Sweets

One thing I like about shopping in Duty Free outlets is the abundance of imported candy brands that I don't normally see in Manila supermarkets. And a lot of these candy brands have a special significance to me because they're candy brands that remind me of my childhood.

These are candies that my grandparents or aunts would bring home from the U.S. whenever we'd visit. Or chocolates that they'd send over through family and friends.

It's been a while since I've seen (and tasted) these sweets, so I'm glad that I was able to come across them in Subic last weekend.

First, we have Tootsie Dots. I'm actually more used to the classic flavors, but I came across this Pink Grapefruit variant, and it's super delicious. I almost finished it in one sitting. (I knew I should've bought more!)

Next, we have Zachary's Chocolates. Compared to the Hershey's and Nestles of this world, Zachary can be considered a Mom and Pop operation. And that's why I like it so much. It tastes so authentic and you know the care that came into making each of these chocolates.

Finally, we have Milk Duds. Heck, who doesn't know Milk Duds? Enough said.

Now, I've got a stash of these sweets in the kitchen and I'm trying to ration them. But hey, I can rest in the fact that I can always go back to Subic in case I run out and get the craving for these candies again.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Take two for the Titans!


I was thrilled when they remade "Clash of The Titans" (although I still preferred the original).

And now, I was browsing youtube and saw this:

There's going to be a part 2!

The Mythology geek in me is rejoicing already. I'm definitely going to watch this.

(My only question now is: Whatever happened to Io?)

Friday, February 17, 2012

FMM: Major birthday

When we were growing up, my brother Biboy and I were the quintessential cat and dog duo. We would fight a lot, and those fights would sometimes be phenomenal in scale. Aside from having fist fights, we'd sometimes chase each other with hammers and 2x2 wood blocks. Then, there was the occasional flushing of personal items and toy sabotage.

As we grew older, we mellowed down. And by the time we were in college, we were back to being buds.

There was a point when we shared a room, and one thing I remember about Biboy is that he enjoyed listening to New Wave music. And one of this favorite songs was "Major Tom" by Peter Schilling.

Today is Biboy's birthday, and he's all the way out in Atlanta. So, to celebrate his birthday, I'm putting on this major tune for him.

Happy Birthday, Biboy! Here's to more adventures and blessings ahead.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mall at once...

I pass by 4 malls on my way home: Glorietta, Farmer's Plaza, Gateway and Ali Mall. These malls are all connected to the MRT which I take from Makati to Cubao.

These 4 malls are very different: in architecture, tenant mix, look and even its target market. But today, as I passed through these 4 malls, they all has one thing in common.

They were playing Whitney Houston songs in the background.

I think this is their way of saying that they'll always love Whitney Houston.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sweet and Sugoi

When I got home yesterday, I was told that I received a package. And once they showed it to me, I knew where it came from. I knew primarily because of the familiar EMS envelope - an envelope that I received a couple of times when I was still living in HKG.

Yes, it was an EMS package from Tokyo. Courtesy of Mark, of course.

Once I opened the package, I immediately thought: Sugoi! Because the package contained sweets that I've grown to love during my trips to Japan last 2006 to 2008. Seeing these yummy treats brought me back to the time when I'd fly to Japan and visit Mark in IUJail. These goodies were what we'd frequently buy at Jusco during the weekend.

First, I got 2 packs of Caramel Corn. And may I just say that Caramel Corn is The. Best. Snack. Ever. It's got that rich caramel flavor that just envelops every piece of curl. Once you bite into it, the flavor just explodes! Gosh, I'm just keeping myself from tearing open these packs! (Breathe... Breathe...) Aside from the classic Caramel flavor, he sent me the Cheesecake flavor as well.

And may I just say, the packaging of Caramel Corn is just adorable!

Next up, Kitkat! Or as they say in Japan, Kito-kato. Now, these Kitkats are tres unique. It's a variant that can only be found in Japan.

You'd think it's green tea Kitkat, right? Well, think again.

It's Wasabi Kitkat. Awesomeness! I can't wait to try these chocolates. Mark warned me that it's a bit spicy.

And finally, a sweet smelling lotion. Cherry and Vanilla are two scents I love, so having them in one lotion is just perfect.

Sweet treats. Sweet tooth. Sweet scent. Valentine's Day may have passed, but the sweetness just keeps on coming.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's all we need...

On this day of hearts and chocolates and huge stuffed toys from Blue Magic, it's nice to remember that beyond all the gifts and gestures both grand and small, the most important thing to remember is that today is a day of Love.

And that's all we need.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Frendz in Love

It's been some sort of tradition for D' Frendz to celebrate Valentine's together. It started sometime after college, when we were young, carefree, and for most Frendz - single.

Sometimes, we'd have dinners out, and there would be times when we'd have our Valentine's dinner at home. On these occasions, Dad and Kuya Marv would be our chefs. We'd gather round the table and talk about so many things, except love. That would've been too cliche.

It's been more a decade since we started this pseudo-tradition. And while we've grown up, and some of the Frendz now have families of their own, we try to carry the torch and get together for Valentine's.

This year, since Valentine's Day is on a weekday, we decided to celebrate in advance. And to make it even more special, we decided to celebrate out of town. Particularly, in Subic. So, we packed our bags (trolleys for some Frendz,) and headed of for some Valentine's R&R.

We arrived in Subic a little after lunch. We wanted to eat at Extremely Expresso, but it was uber duber full. So was Meat Plus. This led us to Gilligan's for a full meal of Pinoy fare. I love the food at Gilligan's. This is where we celebrated Mark's birthday 2 years ago. (In the Glorietta branch, not in Subic.)

We rented 2 Villas at Forest Hills, and the whole atmosphere felt very homey. After buying (or hoarding, which was more like what happened) groceries, we went back to the Villas and started what D' Frendz love to do - eating and talking! During dinner, it felt like we were one big family.

Aside from Valentine's, we also celebrated Vince's birthday in Subic. I asked Ate Bullet to bake a Rum Cake for the occasion, and I'm glad it arrived in Subic in one piece.

We wanted to surprise Vince, and it turned out that Vince surprised us. He walked in on us while we were preparing the cake, and that led me to dive down the floor, with the cake in my hands. Despite that fiasco, we still managed to surprise D' Birthday Boy.

Apres dinner, we brought out the Tanduay Ice and the Magic Sing. And the rest is musical history! Here's Rona warming up the Magic Mic. No doubt, Rona is the best (and probably the only) singer in D' Frendz. She really loves to sing, as do we all.

I joined in right after, and the "Lester and Rona Show" began. Our peg was "Cowboy Grill," and we transformed into Sing-along Masters for the night. And only for D' Frendz.

One of the biggest changes during this year's Valentine's celebration was the presence of D' Frendz's three new loves. And these are the Little Frendz, Becca, Audrey and Lucas. They celebrated with their Mommies, Daddies, Titos and Titas, and they seemed like they enjoyed the proceedings.

The rest of the evening went by like a fast blur. More singing. More laughter. More making fun of Tintin. And more enjoyable moments with D' Frendz. This went on until the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday found us attempting to do what we failed to do last Saturday, eat at Extremely Espresso. And luckily, we did! While we weren't able to order their gigantic pizza, we loved the meal at Extremely Expresso. And not just because of the food, but the company as well.

And that capped a lovely weekend with Frendz. Actually, we felt there wasn't enough time, and we were even joking about staying another day. (We have enough food to last us a week.) I guess the adage is true, time really does fly when you're having fun. And not just regular fun, but a fun Valentine's weekend with Frendz.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Voice of an angel

We were on our way to Royal Subic Duty Free when Bonique broke the news that Whitney Houston just passed away. Our first reaction in the car was: "Are you serious?"

For kids of the 80s and 90s, Whitney Houston was an icon. She was called "The Voice," and for good reason. She had a tender but powerful voice, and her songs resonated with everyone who listened to it. Her songs of love, heartbreak, inspiration, and yes, her dance ditties, were loved and sung along with by millions of people around the world. I don't know anyone who doesn't know "Where do broken hearts go," who hasn't danced to "I wanna dance with somebody," watched "The Bodyguard" and sang along with "And I will always love you," and marveled at the vocal powerhouse of "When you believe."

With Whitney's passing - much like Michael Jackson's - there will be a lot of speculation, questions and speculation. But while there might be a lot of doubts in the air, there's one thing that's certain. The world will be a bit more silent now that we've lost one of the greatest voices of our generation.

Vaya con Dios, Whitney Houston. And I'm sure the heavens will be waiting for your duet with Michael Jackson.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Back in the Forest

In 2009, when Biboy visited Manila, we decided to have a "day away" in Subic, and we stayed at Forest Hills. That get together was a lot of fun, and it was filled with food, laughter and sibling bonding.

Today, I find myself back in Forest Hills, this time with D' Frendz! We decided to celebrate Valentine's together, so we booked 2 villas and bought lots and lots and lots and LOTS of food. As Alfie observed, we could stay there for 2 weeks and not go hungry. Harhar.

I'm sure this get together will be filled with food, laughter and bonding with Frendz. Just like 2009.

Friday, February 10, 2012

We interrupt your regular program for an advertisement...

Not just any advertisement. But a winning advertisement!

I attended the AdSpeak 12 in Letran, both to join my students and cheer on some seniors whose works are finalists in the Student competition.

Out of more than 500 entries, 6 of my students came out as finalists. And one of them won 2nd runner up in the coveted "Practitioner's Choice" category.

Kekx's entry "Quit" bested entries from heavyweight schools, including UP CFA, which is known for dominating this category. And I'm not surprised that she won. The moment she showed me her entry, I knew that she had a winner. It was deceptively simple, but conceptually sound. The art direction is very tight, and it looks like it was done by a professional.

Here's her winning entry:

While we were walking out of Letran, I felt like a proud Dad and Mentor after seeing my student getting a much deserved award. And I'm sure this is just the first of many awards that will come her way.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A host of possibilities

During family gatherings, I find myself being the default host.

My sister-in-law, Liz, who also finds herself in the same situation every so often, offers a few theories:

1. The bunsos are always seen as the default hosts. (Liz and I are both the youngest.)
2. UP people are naturally talkative, ergo good as hosts. (Liz and I are both from UP.)
3. Mass Comm graduates make good hosts. (I'm a Mass Comm graduate)
4. We're just talkative. (Liz and I are, that's for sure.)

I'm not sure which of these theories are accurate, but for some strange, cosmic reason, people always see a "host" when they see me.

While I've hosted a number of parties and events, today, there was a first in my "hosting career." I hosted a big school event, particularly, the Service Awards 2012.

It was a new experience for me. First, it's my first time to attend the Service Awards. (Heck, I didn't even attend the Awards Ceremony where I was awarded.) Second, this is the first time I'm hosting a school event of this scale. (The previous ones I hosted were just the send-offs and Christmas parties.) Third, it's the first time I'm having nuns as an audience. ("Tone it down," was the order of the day.)

And after all was said and done, I must say, I had a lot of fun. Joy, Liz, Rem, Rommel and I pulled off our hosting chores with flying school colors. Everything went smoothly, save for the 2 brownouts, and the audience (nuns included) had so much fun.

Post event, there were people approaching me and congratulating me for being a good host. These were people I've seen for the first time in my entire academic life in SSC. A couple of nuns approached me and gave me good feedback. One nun asked me if I studied in the U.S. because my English and enunciation was "beautiful." Another one told me that I was the "most elegant host" among the 5 hosts on stage. (What that meant, I don't know.)

So, I can say that I passed my first school hosting test. It might not have been an A, but I'll probably give myself a B+.

On my way back to the faculty room, our Computer Center head, Tonette, ran into me along the corridor. She said: "Sir, may hidden talent pala kayo. Ang galing niyo mag-host! Kunin ko kaya kayo sa birthday ng anak ko."

I think I see an alternative career somewhere here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Illustrating a point

I'm a very visual person. That's why I was drawn to illustrations, even as a young boy.

I'd read the comic page more for the drawings rather than the text. That's how I fell in love with the illustration styles of Mandrake the Magician, Dick Tracy and The Phantom.

When I was in primary school, there were certain illustration styles that caught my eye and became favorites. And some of them are favorites up until now.

One of my favorites is Vallotton's illustrations for the bible. I first saw her work on the bible we had at home. Her style is very simple, heartfelt and genuine. Which is the perfect style for the Holy Bible.

Another all-time favorite was Jim Davis' illustration of Garfield. I was so into Garfield that I could (and still can) draw him from memory.

When I was in college, I started collecting "The Far Side" books, mainly because of Gary Larson's quirky illustrations. They're very linear, but they capture so much emotion and fun in just one go.

In terms of fashion illustration, Alber Elbaz definitely tops my list. His work is a bit abstract and devoid of continuous lines. But still, you can see his clothes and feel the message in his drawings.

And finally, Doo Ri Chung's fashion illustrations are also favorites of mine. Her drawings go beyond the stereotypical tall, lithe and modelesque fashion illustrations that we're used to. This on is more avant-garde and quirky, and that's why it's such a joy to look at them.

I try to sketch, but I fail at it oftentimes. So, I'll just live my passion for sketching through these masterful illustrations from my favorites.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Color story: Jaded

This trip to HKG will probably go down in my annals as the trip where I did the least shopping. After all, how can you think of shopping when you have 10 students to think about 24/7. And aside from that, I had fun watching my students running around and shopping at my favorite haunts like Uniqlo, H&M, Muji and the Fa Yuen Street Market.

Not to say I wasn't able to do any shopping, though. That would be next to impossible. Harhar.

What I did was to synchronize my shopping duties with my students. So, when we'd to to a particular place, I'd give them 30 minutes to an hour. And once they scampered off, I'd do some retail therapy myself. And while I wasn't able to shop much quantity-wise, I had a couple of really good finds.

And these finds are good enough to brand me a jaded shopper. Because some of the items I bought are in one of the colors of the season - Jade!

First, there's this Jade polish from Revlon. Ate Bullet is experimental when it comes to polish, and she appreciated the Midnight Blue, Silver and Chocolate brown polish I got her last year. So, I thought of adding this to her stash, so she'll have one more unusual color to choose from.

And from H&M, a jade colored wrap dress which has this strong Bianca Jagger vibe. I think it's because of the draped and uneven hem, plus the deep V-neck.

I also like the little neck tie detail. It's one detail that gives the dress this retro feel.

Of course, I wouldn't ask Ate to wear both at the same time. Nina Garcia would not approve. (Too matchy-matchy.) But if worn individually, these items are enough to add a unique pop and zing to my sister's fashion repertoire.

And even the most jaded fashionista would agree.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Twix with a twist

While waiting for the girls to finish eating at the Citygate Food Court, Wowie and I decided to hie off to Park & Shop for some last minute grocery shopping.

I've always liked going to groceries in HKG because there are a lot of cool and new finds, especially in the snack and chocolate section.

And being a Twix fan, HKG is a Twix mecca because they release flavors that we don't get in Manila. They once had Twix mint, Twix Cookies and Cream, and Twix cappuccino. And this visit didn't leave me empty handed because I found this:

Cherry Cheesecake Twixels!

It's my favorite fruit (cherry), dessert (cheesecake) and chocolate stick (Twix) in one snack! How awesome is that?