Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Itching for it

The grocery store beside the school - the store formerly known as Popular Grocery and Micaray - never fails to yield surprises. They always have something interesting and new hidden in their shelves. Goodies that I don't find at SM Supermarket or at The Landmark.

Goodies like these little critters that I bought along with my usual stash of Vitamilk, Rebisco Crackers and Oishi Onion Rings:

Yes, they're called caterpillars. Not because they make your throat itchy, but because of their elongated shape and their rough texture.

First, I bought a pack to try it out. After eating the entire bag in a matter of minutes, I had to go back to the grocery to buy more. There's something deliciously weird about this candy. It's like a cross between a gummy candy and a marshmallow.

The candy is super soft and just a bit gooey. The mallow part has the right amount of sweetness and the jelly gives it a bit of tart. There are 3 flavors inside: orange, grape and I think the green one is apple. The grape one tastes like medicine, which is fine by me. For some strange reason, I like candies that taste like medicine.

They also have big bags of this candy available, but I try to buy the small ones just for portion control. I'm afraid I'll finish the big bag in a couple of minutes as well.

Just as I finished the small bag right after taking this photo.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meals with Mark: Think king

Time for another food flashback from my recent trip to Tokyo.

Among the few fast food places we ate at was Burger King near the Roponggi Subway Station. We actually ate there out of necessity. Basically, we were pressed for time and needed to eat in 30 minutes tops. If memory serves me right, we had to rush to Akihabara where we were supposed to meet up with  Grace and Rick.

One reason why I like Burger King in Japan is that they have items on their menu that we don't find here in Manila.

The green drink is Melon Soda, a beverage that's very popular in Japan but hasn't found itself on to our shores. The drink on top of it is Calpis Soda which is Mark's favorite drink. It's a cross between milk and soda and is pretty refreshing.

I also ordered the Buffalo Wing Sandwich, another item which I wish they'd bring in Manila. It's really, really good. There's boneless chicken breast, smothered in tangy buffalo wing sauce, then drizzled with sour cream. It's the first time I've tried Buffalo Wings on a sandwich, and I like it.

Looking at the photos again after a few weeks, I can't help but think how great that sandwich was. 

Burger King Philippines, please bring the Buffalo Wing Chicken sandwich here!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

And still more moments of sales lady greatness

This time, it's at SM Department Store Cubao.

There was a dress. A nice, scarf print dress that has that Givenchy vibe.

I got it from the rack, examined it, and noticed that the dress had no zipper.

The sales lady came up to me and said:

SALES LADY: Sir, new arrival po namin yan.

So, I asked:

ME: Wala talagang zipper ito?

To which she replied:

SALES LADY: Wala po, Sir. Slip-up po 'yan.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Singular and Floral

The chatty and irritating sales ladies at SM did not deter me from soldiering on and buying the items I was checking out intently. I was single-minded in my goal to get the ensemble because I found it fashionably cute and refreshingly chic.

Here's the ensemble. A casual garden of delights that will go everywhere - from a relaxed day at work to a Saturday at the mall to a Sunday get together.

The top is a soft, chambray polo shirt with folded sleeves. It reminds me of those classic Ralph Lauren shirts, albeit a bit softer.

Both collar and pocket have the same floral motif. It's a dainty pattern with small English roses and ivy leaves.

It's similar to the look and feel of the pants. The first time I saw this pair from afar, it called to me. It said: "Can't you see how cute I am? Buy me! Take me home!" And needless to say, I heeded the pants' call. Harhar.

Patterned pants are still very much in style these days, and the dainty rose and ivy leaves print echoes the one on the pocket of the polo shirt. It's the concept that ties the two items together.

When you have an ensemble this dainty, the footwear to go with it is something more substantial and slightly chunkier. And that's what I found at The Landmark. This pair of platforms in green and khaki - colors that are also found on the prints of the whole ensemble.

Honestly, this pair wasn't part of the plan. It just so happened that I passed through The Landmark and spotted it. While I was checking it out, another girl stood beside me and checked out the pink version of this same shoe. The girl was a foreigner - an Australian, if I use her accent as an indicator. 

She tried on the shoes and exclaimed - yes, she exclaimed - to her companion: "Wow! These shoes are so comfy! I can run in these!"

And those words sealed the deal. At first, I was wondering whether I should get the pink or the green. But I opted for this pair because there might be too many pink elements in the entire outfit. A green pair of shoes is the perfect foil to all the daintiness up on top.

It's really amazing what department stores sell these days. And it's amazing how a look like this can be conjured up in a few hours.

Friday, July 27, 2012

FMM: Isn't that chirpy!

Every decade, there comes a song that's so catchy and infectious, people all over the world find themselves entranced and singing along with that ditty.

One common thing about these songs is the fact that they often have lyrics that most people understand. But because the song is so addictive, they eventually memorize the lyrics and sing along despite the fact that they don't understand what the song is saying.

In the 90s, there was "Dayang-Dayang," which I suspect was of Indonesian origins. In the early 2000s, there were the Spanish imports "Macarena" and "Asereje." Again, I know a lot of Filipinos who could sing those songs even if they had no idea what the lyrics said. In the middle of that decade, we also had "Chocolate," which was so saccharine, it could make one sick. Harhar.

Back in 1996, there was a song that we'd listen to a lot in Adformatix, and it falls under this category. The song was entitled "Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep." I admit, I was hooked on this song. But it wasn't simply because the tune was catchy and irritatingly repetitive. It was because the song reminded me of my childhood.

The 90s version wasn't the original. I remember back in the 80s, I saw a cassette tape of "Middle of the Road," and they were the original artists. They recorded it way back in 1971, and the song prevailed more than 3 decades after.

There are so many things going for this song. The simple lyrics. The infectious chorus. The upbeat vibe. And in the case of the original song - a gorgeous lead singer.

It's more than enough to make you chirpy once you listen to the song.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Of service and sarcasm

On my way to Shash's office, I passed by SM Department Store in Makati and decided to browse for a bit.

There were a few pieces that caught my eye, so I stopped to check them out. While I was doing this, there were 2 salesladies who were chatting away, unmindful of a customer checking out the merchandise.

I began scouring the racks, checking out shirts and jeans. Normally, at this point, the saleslady would come to assist me. They'd usually ask what size, who is it for, what other colors are available, and what not. But no, the 2 salesladies continued on with their conversation about boys and what he texted her and so on and so forth.

Seriously, I was there for about 20 minutes and they just stood there, talking to each other.

Finally, one of the ladies took a break from listening to her friend and looked at me as I was reaching for a pair of jeans. She stood around 10 feet away from me, and from where she was, asked me:

SALESLADY: Ano po yon?

Mind you, she didn't even make an effort to come near me. She asked the question while still standing in front of the other saleslady who was yapping away. Miffed by their lack of customer service orientation, I gathered all my sarcasm and said:

ME: Huwag na miss, mukhang busing-busy kayong dalawa diyan.

To which the saleslady answered:

SALESLADY: Ah, okay.

Then, she proceeded to continue her conversation, still not moving from where she stood.

Gosh! Someone should teach these ladies the concept of customer service. Or just plain good manners for that matter.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meals with Mark: Ramen Rave

Presenting another food flashback from my trip to Tokyo.

Since Diver City is just a stone's throw away from TIEC, it became our default eating place of sorts. Among the plethora of restaurants there, two places that Mark suggested were the takoyaki place called Gindaro and a ramen place whose name I can't remember. 

So, one lunch time, we - along with Patty - ate at the ramen place and tried their specialty.

I do not exaggerate when I say that this is the best tasting ramen I've tasted so far. It's perfection in a bowl!

The soup was very thick and flavorful. It's as if the broth bursts in your mouth and fills it with a cacophony of flavors. The noodles are nice and firm, and they're quite thin, so they're not overwhelming unlike the thick udon noodles. 

There were a lot of add ons on top, including spring onions, red ginger, and some other Japanese ingredients that I don't remember. 

Overall, this bowl was just divine! It would've nice to have this ramen everyday, and frankly, I could've. But there were other culinary treats awaiting, so I only had this once during my trip.

Finally, here's the cutest touch on the dish.

It had a nori rap with "Thank You" in different languages. They say it's good taste to have manners, and this wrap is the embodiment of that.

Yes, I've spent an entry raving about a bowl of noodles. 

If you tried this paradise-in-a-bowl, you'd be raving, too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More Morocco

Prints are abundant this season. Everywhere I look - from the high end stores like Escada and Gucci, to fast fashion brands like Zara and Warehouse, down to the tiangges in Greenhills - there's always something dotted, floral, animal printed, and other optically interesting patterns.

Passing by The Landmark this afternoon, there was so much eye candy. The most popular print these days seem to be the scarf print. They had it in everything - shirts, shorts, dresses, polos, name it, they've scarf-ed it.

Another popular motif is the equestrian print. There were a lot of horses, stirrups, bridles, boots and other riding related prints. There were a couple of sleeveless shirts in this motif that were really nice and chic.

Finally, there was the Moroccan print. Borrowing from the moors, there were a lot of blouses with intricate patterns that you'd usually see on tiles and walls in that part of the world.

This print was particularly fetching. It was very intricate and very classy. It had an old world elegance to it, and I just couldn't resist getting one for Ate Bullet.

Aside from the print, the color was also very, very nice. The deep blue complemented the pattern excellently, and there was another color available that was refreshingly fashionable as well.

This coral blouse has the same pattern, but the color gives it a totally different look and feel. This one is more fun and girly, as opposed to the serious and sultry look of the blue one. This color will definitely look good on Ate Lissa.

Apart from the print and the color, there are a lot of things going for this blouse. The silhouette is loose and relaxed. The fabric is a soft silk that can transition from hot to cold weather. It's versatile and can go with both skinny denims or cuffed khakis. Finally, there's The Landmark promise of affordability. Which is one of the reasons why I can't get enough of The Landmark.

Too bad they only had 2 colors. Because if they had it in other variants, I'd definitely snap them up, too. Because this is the type of top that makes you want to shout: More! More!

Monday, July 23, 2012


Last weekend, I was finally able to catch "The Amazing Spiderman." I've heard a lot of positive reviews about this film, both from my friends, students and on-line critics. They all seem to be in agreement, and that's always a good thing.

I must say that they were spot on. This version - technically a prequel - has all the elements of a great superhero film. 

First, there's action. What I like about this film is that the action scenes weren't too exaggerated and didn't look too "green screen." The scene where he first learns about his strength and power was hilarious. There was a certain naivete and non-chalance in that scene that made Peter Parker very human. The wall climbing scenes, the swinging on the web scenes, even the fight scenes, they were all realistically done. Even thought I'm aware that this is a fantasy film, there's a suspension of disbelief and it made me feel that this could possibly be real. (Which is what I felt while watching Jurassic Park years ago.)

Second, there's the origin. I've always been fascinated by superhero origin stories. When I was a boy, I even had a couple of comic books on the origins of both DC and Marvel superheroes. If memory serves me right, one book was entitled "Marvel: Origins," and I couldn't get enough of that book. It's the same fascination that I felt as the story of Peter Parker unfolded. From the time he was bitten, to this early acts of heroism, until he went full blast with it - the way it was told is very human. Another part that I liked was the fact that the web he was shooting out of this wrists were man-made and not some mythical string that's produced by his body. (Which was what happened in the Tobey Maguire versions.)

Third, there's drama. Honestly, whenever dramatic scenes find themselves into superhero films, I immediately think: Nachos!!! But the way the dramatic back story was weaved into this film was so tight and integral into the story that it didn't feel cheesy in any way. In fact, the narrative was richer because of those angles of Peter seeing his parents leave him and his eventual longing for them. There was the dramatic tension caused by his rebellion which led to Uncle Ben's death. His injury and struggle in the final few sequences of the film - they all added dimension to the story. Heck, I found myself holding back tears in some parts. (Teary eyed in a superhero film. Really?)

Fourth, there's the feel-good factor. The past superhero films that I saw (The Avengers, Thor, Iron Man, Green Lantern) were all entertaining, but it didn't have that emotional connection. (Emotional connection in a superhero film. Really?) But this film did. As it unfolded, I couldn't help but empathize with Peter Parker, Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy, Uncle Ben, Dr. Curt Connors - the whole lot. It felt like every character was relatable to the point that I almost wanted to stand up and cheer every time their characters would triumph. Also, there were points that I'd bury my face in my palms in shame whenever the character does something embarrassing. And as the movie finished, I tried so hard to keep myself from standing up and shouting "Woot! Woot!" Yes, that's how good I felt after watching it.

Aside from these four, there were a lot of ther reasons why I thoroughly enjoyed watching "The Amazing Spiderman." There was the subtle comedy, the surprisingly horrifying scenes (especially that part when Peter saw the mouse turn into a lizard,) and of course, Stan Lee's brilliant cameo as a librarian. (The. Best. Stan Lee cameo. Ever!)

And of course, there's the fact that several people have told me that Andrew Garfield - the actor playing Peter Parker - reminds them of me. As Rona mentioned to me: Ang galing ng movie mo!

I'm glad I was able to catch this film on the big screen before it wraps up. It was such an enjoyable film overall, and I left the movie house with a tingling feeling all over my body.

And no, it wasn't my spider sense.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Way back then when we were kids and living in Tomas Morato, our house had a big sampaloc tree in the living room. We were told that it was more than a hundred years old and haunted. Our grandparents' Majordoma would often tell us tales of seeing spirits and severed heads in that area.

Because we had that sampaloc tree, we had a favorite prank that we'd play on our neighbors. Whenever we'd be playing outside the house or in the garage, this conversation would ensue:

ME: Gusto mo ng sampaloc?
ME: (slaps playmate on the cheek then points behind him)
PLAYMATE: Ano 'yon?
ME: Sampal. Look!
*insert canned laughter here*

Ah yes, the good old days when life was simple and slapstick was even simpler. Harhar.

And this sampaloc flashback was brought to you by the sampaloc candy that I'm currently addicted to.

This is similar to the Bangkok tamarind candies that you can buy at MBK. The ones that cost B100 for a pack of three. This is also imported from Thailand but it isn't as spicy as the ones in the souvenir shops. I think I've almost finished the stocks of this product at Daily Supermarket. What can I say? It's so addicting! 

I think I'm consuming half a pack of these a day! Someone stop me!

Slap me if need be.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Perfect Timing

Because of last night's heavy rain that left part of Taft Avenue flooded, (a flood that I had to wade through) I waited for advice this morning before going to school for my Saturday classes.

At 6:00am, there was no answer on the school's trunkline. At 6:30am, I started coordinating with Ellen just to make sure that there were classes. By 6:45am, she said that there was no announcement from the school administration, so we should take that as "business as usual."

So, off I went to school. Actually, today's lesson is fun and I was excited to go there and teach.

When I stepped inside the school gate at 7:40am, that's when the SMS came in: "No classes today."

Perfect. Just perfect.

Friday, July 20, 2012

FMM: Fully Charged

As I was watching streaks of lightning from our school window, thoughts of electricity immediately came to mind.

And those thoughts of electricity were eventually translated to "electric" songs that I used to enjoy listening to in my youth.

It's always nice to listen to songs that were written at a time when writing songs was a work of art and lyrics meant something more than one line being repeated over and over and over and over again.

The songs of the 80s really were - as Debbie Gibson so aptly put it - electric!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Surviving snacks

Currently on my shelf are two snack items that I brought in from Japan, but haven't gone around to opening and munching on just yet. And considering the fact that most of the chocolates from Tokyo have been eaten, you can say that these two snacks are survivors.

The reason why I haven't eaten these snacks is the fact that they're very rare and I don't come across them very often. Actually, they're not in any supermarket shelf that I've visited. At least not the major supermarket chains.

First, there's Doritos Toasted Corn! (The exclamation point is part of the brand name.) This is the plain variant of Doritos and these haven't been on local shelves since the late 1990s. Back then, this was readily available and this was our default snack when we'd do our Masteral projects over at Ryan's place. 

After a while, though, it started to disappear in favor of more flavorful options like Cooler Ranch and Taco. Then, they were just gone. I came across this bag when Mark and I went out to buy supplies at Hanamasa. Initially, we just bought one bag, and we devoured that one pretty quickly. This other bag was supposed to be for consumption in Tokyo, but it ended up coming home with me to Manila. 

Second is this small pack of Beanaturals from Jelly Belly. All my friends know that I'm a Jelly Belly freak. It's one thing I hoard whenever I'm in the U.S. And there was a birthday when my friends gave me different Jelly Belly variants.

This pack I got at our favorite chocolate store in Ueno. This pack was surprisingly cheap! Plus, it had all the "natural fruit" jelly bean flavors. It's in a convenient pack, so it's easy to bring around. And to seal the deal, it has cherry and watermelon jelly beans. Two of my ultimate faves.

For the week or so, I've been fighting off opening and devouring these snacks in one go. Knowing that they're "rare" has given me that mindset that I should only open these two when I'm really, really, really craving for them. 

Goodness like these snacks must be savored, and I intend to do so.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Oh my Maman

Even though I've been to Japan several times, I haven't really explored Tokyo that much since most of my time was spent in the "province." And if ever I'm in Tokyo, my time would be limited. So, I'd end up going to the places that I'm very familiar with: Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno and Akihabara.

Now that Mark is in Tokyo, I was finally able to spend time really exploring the city. There's Odaiba, Omotesando, and Roppongi.

While we were going around Roppongi Hills, Mark introduced me to its most famous resident, Maman. 

Yes, Maman is a giant spider sculpture who resides in front of one of the high end malls in that area. Because of her size, Maman is a very intimidating figure. But the way, I'm assuming Maman is a she because she has little spider eggs in her belly. That's what I'm pointing to in this photo.

I'm assuming that Maman is to Roppongi what Hachiko is to Shinjuku. A sculpture that people take time out to visit, marvel at, and be photographed with.

And finally, I've had my time with Maman as well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hit it, word!

Since Javier controls the television set in the living room, we find ourselves watching Disney Junior at any given day and time. In fact, I'm slowly considering myself as a Disney Junior connoiseur, rating each show based on their stories, educational value and overall watchability.

This skill actually comes in handy if you have friends who have toddlers. There are times when I would find myself discussing Disney Junior Shows with Mona, Vince and Bonique. On other days, I'd engage Becca in the same discussion and she would tell me her favorite shows.

Like Becca, I do have my own list of favorite shows on Disney Junior. And on top of my list is a show entitled Word World.

It's a very well-thought of and creatively executed show. Every character and location on the show is made out of the letters that spell it. Then, when they introduce a new item in the story, they spell it out first before it becomes that real thing. In one go, they teach kids about spelling and identification.

That's the best about this show. It looks like play, but there's actually a lot of learning involved. Aside from the word lessons, they also have a lot of life lessons. They're the usual Disney values of friendship, sharing, honesty, and all the basic moral lessons that kids ought to know.

The last time I felt this strongly about a show was when I was a kid watching Sesame Street. That show really made an impact in my life because of all the lessons it imparted to me - both phonetic, numerical and social. 

And I'm hoping that Javier will get these same lessons from this show. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

LFTAT: Geek chic

Last weekend, I received an SMS from Ate Bullet asking for suggestions for an upcoming party she's attending. According to her, the theme was "Cutie Pie Bow Tie," and she asked me what would be a nice thing to wear.

Immediately, I thought of Pee Wee Herman. He made being a geek look so chic, so that look became my peg as I put together an outfit for her. But I didn't want it to look like a costume or something that's so literal. The look had to use pieces that she can wear again for daily wear.

So, it was off to The Landmark because it's the best place to get nice, trendy pieces for less.

And here's the look that I showed her:

The top is a mustard colored chiffon shirt that's very on-trend. It's sheer, has a mullet hem, and with rolled up sleeves. This style is actually seen on a lot of young fashionistas of late. And to add a zing to it, the bow tie comes in a brown leopard print.

Options, options, I always say. So, I came up with another outfit of the same style, but in a different color scheme. 

This one has a royal blue chiffon blouse with a grape colored tie with small squares as design.

Since I got this at The Landmark, the total cost of the 2 outfits was P900.00. Not bad for two blouses and two bow ties. All that she needs to complete the look are boyfriend jeans or chino shorts, and she's good to go.

When I asked her what she ended up wearing, she showed me these photos. She gravitated towards the mustard and brown combination, and she took my suggestion and wore her son's geeky glasses. 

See, geek can definitely be chic.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Meals with Mark: Ooh, Ootoya.

One restaurant name that I've heard from Mark a couple of times is Ootoya. It's a Japanese restaurant near their campus, and he said that it's really good and authentic Japanese food at an affordable price. (I'm beginning to sound like a Home TV shopping salesman. But wait, that's not all!) We were actually planning to have lunch there, but it didn't push through. 

But a few days after, we had dinner at Ootoya to celebrate Patty's graduation and to welcome Grace and Rick to Tokyo. We were a big group since we joined Mark's schoolmates who wanted to have a Friday night dinner out. And since we were Pinoys, our table was also the noisiest.

Mark had the Tonkatsu set, it looked substantial and satiating. The breading on the pork was beautifully golden brown, the rice was fragrant, the miso soup was delicious, and the salad was light and fresh. 

My order was a bit on the raw side. I ordered cold soba noodles with raw fish and rice. I first tasted this type of cold soba on the plane on my way to Tokyo, so I was glad to taste the non-airline version. What you do is to make the sauce by mixing the broth, wasabi and green onions. Then, you dip the soba in the sauce until the flavor seeps in, and voila! A tasty soba treat.

After dinner, I can confidently say that Mark was right about Ootoya. It's really, really good. If there was a Japanese version of comfort food, this would definitely be it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meals with Mark: Naan Stop

It's hard to imagine that it's been a week since I got back from Tokyo. Time just zipped by so fast and things are pretty much business as usual. One of the things that I have yet to do is transfer our Tokyo photos onto my computer, and that's one thing I told myself that I'd do tonight.

One of the things that Mark and I did consistently was to take photos of everything we ate. As much as possible, we tried to be more adventurous in terms of cuisine, and we avoided the usual McDonald's, Moss Burger and other Japanese fast food joints. (Although we did have McDonald's and Burger King when we started craving for "comfort food.")

Among the meals we shared was this eat-all-you-can curry buffet at a restaurant in Roppongi. The restaurant was creatively named "South Indian Restaurant" and was tucked away in a small street leading to church.

The eat-all-you can buffet had around 6 different types of curry, soup, salad, dessert and one drink. And we enjoyed availing all of them, of course.

If that's not reason enough, they have fresh, naan bread which was also naan-all-you-can! I've written several times before that I really enjoy naan bread, so this was two thumbs up for me.

The curry was yummy, although it could've been a bit spicier. Mark said that they must have made it milder to suit the Japanese taste. But the flavors were so rich, especially for the seafood curry, mixed vegetable curry and chicken tandoori on my plate.

For all the curry, naan and dessert that we had, the price of the meal was pretty affordable. If you have a large appetite and like Indian food, this place is definitely a must visit. 

Heck, I'll definitely drag Mark here again the next time I'm in Tokyo!

Friday, July 13, 2012

FMM: Time travel

Thanks to the Will and Grace episode featuring Cher, my mind is on LSS mode, and the song playing is no other than the song that Cher sang to Jack:

Good thing it's Friday. I can turn back time and listen to this song all over again.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guipure Love

Among the different types of lace, I'd say guipure lace would be the most unconventional one. Primarily because it doesn't have the netting that is supposedly the common thread in all lace fabrics. Also, it's not as dainty as its other lace sisters such as chantilly, french and belgian lace. 

If you look at it, the fabric looks more like a crochet than lace. That's the reason some people find guipure lace very "mantel." Then again, a lot of people find chantilly lace very "kurtina."

But because this lace isn't as frilly, it also becomes more versatile. It would be easy to use guipure for day or for night. It can also go from casual to formal, depending on the cut, style and construction.

There's a store at the basement of SM Megamall that sells very nice guipure lace. Initially, I was planning to buy a few yards and ask Aling Bright to work her magic on them. But when I passed by SM Department Store en route to the basement, I saw this winning pair:

Yes, it's further proof of how on-trend SM Department Store is. This dress is actually 2 separate pieces, and they're both made with the fabric that I've been talking about. The first piece is a sleeveless top in beige. Very simple and very classic.

The bottom is a peplum skirt which is pencil cut. This piece alone has 3 trends going for it: lace, peplum and the silhouette.

I purposely bought two different colors to provide a contrast to the outfit. Initially, I thought that it would be too much lace in one place. Then again, since they're both made of the same material, it looks cohesive and they don't clash. 

Needless to say, the price of this ensemble is very affordable. Actually, it's the same price of two yards of the guipure lace that I was planning to buy. And that's just the fabric. If you factor in the sewing cost, this outfit from SM Department Store comes out around 70% cheaper.

Now what's not to love about that?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's On!

Here's concrete proof that Cotton On is indeed opening in Manila. I can almost hear my former Journalism students shriek in delight. After all, during our Investigative Journalism trip to HKG, I think we spent the most time in Cotton On. 

Judging by the small space they're given - and the off the radar location in the mall - it's clear that the franchise isn't owned by SM. So, the reports that it's owned by Bench might be true.

We're really on our way to becoming a fast fashion hub in Asia!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Moments of Grace (and Will, too)

Aside from roaming around the streets of Tokyo, one thing that Mark and I did a lot while I was in Japan was to watch reruns of Will and Grace.

This series really had a lot going for it. The scriptwriters were brilliant and came up with wonderful punchlines and quips. The actors were excellent and their comic timing was flawless. And later on, they had an impressive line-up of guests who added more fun to the already hilarious mix.

After viewing a lot of episodes, we both agreed that the funniest moments were the ones with Jennifer Lopez:

And of course, what's camp comedy without the diva of campiness and comic timing - Cher!

We've watched these over and over again and laughed each time.

And now that I'm watching it again, I still can't help but laugh.

Monday, July 09, 2012

LFTAT: Tokyo Drift

Tokyo has this image of being a very expensive city. It's an image that is very much substantiated by articles and lists. For several years, Tokyo topped the list of "the most expensive cities to live in," before being bumped off by Russia. It was a list that was a result of extensive surveys of both expats and locals.

That said, it would almost be unthinkable that you can get a look-for-less-than-a-thousand in Tokyo. But in terms of shopping, I'd like to think the unthinkable. So, I took it as a challenge to try and find an awesome look for less than Y2,000. (Which is the equivalent of P1,000.)

Thank goodness for H and M! During my 2-week stay in Tokyo, I was able to - as Mark said - visit all the H and M branches in the Tokyo area. (Actually, Mark, I think I missed 2.) And the better news was, H and M was on sale when I got there. So, while the regular items were indeed a bit pricey, the ones on the sale racks were right within the budget range of LFTAT.

And here's a cool, relaxed and chic look for that amount:

I like the fact that the colors are so easy on the eyes. That and the fact that it looked cohesive because of the complementary colors. It starts with this cobalt blue t-shirt in the softest cotton material. Then, we top it off with a turquoise layered necklace.

The skirt is from the same color family, and is an interplay of seafoam green, blue gray, white, blue and a bit of black. The print is an ikat-type of pattern, and the hem of the skirt is the currently popular "high-low" hem. Very nice and very on-trend.

When combined, this look is perfect for a weekend shopping jaunt, or even for the office. It's versatile, it's timeless, and most importantly, it's less than a thousand pesos!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

A fabulous surprise

What makes a wonderful birthday celebration?

First, a fabulous birthday celebrant who we've known and been friends for more than 2 decades. 

Second, a quietly and well-planned surprise which included decoy facebook posts and under the radar email exchanges about where to go, what do bring, what to give, and - as Tintin asked so worriedly - "Paano ba tayo papasok? Single file or by groups of 3?"

Third, a very willing and cunning accomplice in the form of her hubby. Vince laid the foundation for the surprise which made it easier for all of us to do our parts in springing the surprise.

And finally, an awesome group of Frendz who were more than willing to drive up to Tagaytay early in the morning to make sure that Bonique's big day is spent in the most surprisingly fabulous way. After being friends for more than 2 decades, we still manage to surprise each other.

Happy Birthday, Bonique! You're fabulous!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

A disconnect

In this age of 24/7 connectivity and everything can be done on a mobile phone, (and most often, they do,) it's nice to be disconnected for a while.

I've spent 2 weeks in Tokyo without my phone, and it was bliss. No SMS, no phone calls, no nothing. Just silence and more time soaking the sights and sounds without worrying whether an SMS/call/email/messenger message came in.

I know disconnecting like this is unthinkable for a lot of people, but I actually like it.

Friday, July 06, 2012

FMM: The slip

Time really does fly when you're having fun. Especially when you're having so much fun.

It's hard to imagine that I've been in Tokyo for 2 weeks, and now I'm on my way back to Manila. It feels like time gave me the slip.

It was two weeks of going around the city with Mark - rediscovering our old haunts and discovering new ones.

Of meeting old friends in a new city, courtesy of Grace and Rick.
Of meeting new friends - particularly Mark's friends at GRIPS who were very welcoming.
Of trying new adventures - specifically the Onsen.
Of so many things - both big and small - that made this trip a wonderful homecoming.

And before I slip into the plane, I'll cap off this visit with the Japanese song which Mark and I would randomly sing. Shonen Knife's "Banana Chips." Which is quite apt since we're talking about giving the slip:

Next time, I wish time would be slower like molasses rather than quick and slippery like a banana peel.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Bill, please

Today, we had lunch with Mark's schoolmates to celebrate the birthday of one of my new friends here in Japan - Karen.

And we didn't eat at just any restaurant, we ate at Gonpachi.

If the name sounds familiar, it's because this restaurant where Kill Bill was shot. Particularly, that awesome fight scene with The Bride and Gogo.

So, whenever you're here, you don't just ask for the bill. 

You ask for the Kill Bill.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Separated at birth

Everyday, the Yurikamome passes by this billboard for a new Japanese drama series entitled "Beautiful Rain." And each time we pass by, my eyes gravitate to the lead child actor for one simple reason:

She reminds me of my goddaughter Audrey. (aka Suri)

(Audrey to the left, her doppelganger to the right.)

I always knew she had star quality. Now I know that she has international appeal!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Onsen for all

Mark says that a visit to Japan is never complete without a visit to an honest-to-goodness Onsen. In my previous visits, I've never tried going to one. Although during my trip to Kyoto in 2006, I was invited by a group of university students, but didn't go. 

On this trip, we planned to go to the Ooedo Onsen Monogatari, and after a few reschedules, we finally pushed through today!

So, we took off our shyness - and clothes - wore our Yukata and went on an Onsen adventure!

The main attraction of any Onsen is the public bath. It's a big room with 6 indoor pools and 3 outdoor ones. Each pool was heated, with temperatures ranging from 39 to 41 degrees. There was also a cold pool where people are supposed to dip after the hot baths. The catch is, everyone inside the public bath had to come in without any piece of clothing on! (Ergo, there are no photos of that part of the Onsen on this post.)

After the public bath, we went to the foot bath. What you're supposed to do is wade through a long pool of hot water. The catch is, the pool was peppered with big and small stones which made it quite painful to walk on. But they said it was therapeutic, so we gave it a shot.


After the Public bath and the Foot bath, Mark and I were happy and prune-y. My favorite part of the experience was the cool Yukata they asked us to wear. Too bad they weren't selling this design because I really, really like it.

(P.S. You're not allowed to wear anything under the Yukata.)

Before leaving, we stayed at the Tatami room for an hour to cool down after all that hot water. Their common room was designed like an old Japanese village, which is really cool.

After our 3+ hour stay at the Onsen, I must say that it was a fun experience overall. The brochure said that it was a theme park-styled Onsen, and I couldn't agree with them more. The vibe inside was happy and touristy, and save for the Public bath, it's something I'd do all over again.

Now, I can say that I've completed a visit to Japan.