Sunday, March 31, 2013

New beginnings

When Mark and I heard Easter vigil mass at the Franciscan Chapel, the priest said in his homily that Easter is all about new beginnings. One of the points that struck me the most was when he said: "We're fortunate to live in a country where there's an obvious physical manifestation of Spring." 

In this context, the Sakura becomes more than just a flower. It becomes a symbol of new beginnings and the ushering in of a new season of hope.

So, it was but fitting that the Easter vigil mass was the occasion when 7 people begin their lives anew as Catholics. Last night, we were able to witness the baptism of 7 new members of the Catholic Church. 

The first time I witnessed a baptism in Japan was in 2006 in Tokamachi. This was held in Father Bruno's chapel, and it was an old woman being baptized. Last night, the 7 new Catholics ranged from a  young boy (who looked around 5 years old) to a middle aged woman (who looked like she was in her 50s.)

Unlike the baptism we're accustomed to, where water is poured on the baby's forehead, the baptism I witnessed was completely different. The "neophytes" are led into a small pool where they say their prayers, then are submerged 3 times. One was for the Father, another for the Son, and finally, for the Holy Spirit.

After being submerged in the water, oil is poured onto their foreheads to seal the anointment. After this, cheers and applause filled the room as the 7 new Catholics were welcomed into our fold.

I found the entire ceremony rather poignant. Honestly, I was teary eyed at some parts, and just had to hold it in since people might think I'm related to one of them. Harhar.

In our first 5 days in Tokyo, Mark and I went to places and did things that we normally do. But yesterday was the first time that we heard Easter Vigil together, and the first time we witnessed baptism.

And among the new things that we could've done during this trip, I must say that this is one of the best new things to do.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring is abloom

I've been to Japan in all its 4 seasons, but I've never actually visited during Sakura season. It's actually quite odd since this is THE most famous season in Japan.

This year, the blooming of the sakura and Holy Week coincided, so, here we are!

As the priest during the Easter Vigil mass said in his homily: "We are lucky enough to live in a country where the coming of spring is so obvious."

And I'm lucky enough to be able to experience and see this wonderful natural wonder along with Mark.

It was such a pleasure to see these bloom in front of my very eyes.

Friday, March 29, 2013

FMM: Song for Christ

As the Good Friday mass ended, the priest asked the congregation to go home in silence and - in the stillness of our hearts - appreciate the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

Here's to a meaningful Good Friday to everyone.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A song for Holy Thursday

After dinner, Mark and I decided to watch a Lenten movie in remembrance of Holy Thursday. 

Searching on the internet, there were the usual suspects such as "Ben Hur," "Jesus of Nazareth," "Jesus Christ Superstar," and "The Ten Commandments."

Then, there were some unusual choices such as "The Notebook." (Yes, the Nicholas Sparks weeper.)

We settled for this 1943 classic about St. Bernadette Soubirous, "The Song of Bernadette."

Having seen this for the first time, both Mark and I agreed that was a wonderful film. The writing was beautifully done. The acting was top-notch. (Jennifer Jones won the Oscar for best actress in 1943.) And the film gave us an insight on the life of a Saint that I've always been interested about. Her innocence, her simplicity, and the politics surrounding her visions.

Maybe part of it is because I'm a Lourdesian, and our teachers were always centered on Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette. Another part of it might be the fact that I've always been interested in St. Bernadette's incorrupt body. (Which I tried to see in Nevers, but the Cathedral was closed the time I went there.)

Seeing this film again awakened that interest once again. I think I'll be watching this film again. And I also think I'll attempt to go to France once more and try to see St. Bernadette in the flesh.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Love in the 8th degree

Nope, this isn't a tribute to Bananarama's classic 80's hit, "Love in the 1st degree."

As arrived in Tokyo tonight, the weather was a beautifully cool 8 degrees! It was the perfect time to wear my trusty leather jacket, which I brought, thanks to Mark who reminded me about the weather.

Hello Tokyo! It's cool to be back. Literally.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Unlike most people who can't live without technology - can't live without facebook and can't live without changing their status every hour, can't help but tweet and instagram - I'm actually quite technologically detached. Whether it's the internet or the mobile phone, I'd rather not engage in them unless I really need to.

That's why my facebook is - as some of my students tell me - "walang kagana-gana." Unlike a lot of people I know who feel the need to give everyone a blow-by-blow account of their lives on facebook, I'd rather keep my life to myself.

I find that the more that I disconnect from technology, the more I can connect to people around me.

This is the reason why I enjoy my trips to Tokyo. It's one of those perfect moments to disconnect and connect. Disconnect because my phone doesn't work in Japan, so I don't receive any calls nor texts. When I was in Tokyo last June, I had no phone contact for 2 weeks! And that was bliss!

Connect because I get to spend more time with Mark. Eventhough we've been to Tokyo many times, there's always something new to discover - whether it's a place, restaurant, shop or experience. Getting to feel it first hand - rather than just reading about it on the internet or facebook - makes for a richer experience.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Tokyo again for a few days of connecting/disconnecting. And it's a great way to spend the Holy Week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Changing of the Guardians

When I was in grade school, I'd often be an acolyte during our masses. When the intentions were being recited by the priest, he'd usually say:

"Together with John Paul, our Pope, Jaime, our bishop, and all the clergy..."

A decade or so later, with the passing of Jaime Cardinal Sin, the line recited by the priest was:

"Together with John Paul, our Pope, Gaudencio, our bishop, and all the clergy..."

When Pope John Paul II passed away, the line once again changed to:

"Together with Benedict, our Pope, Honesto, our bishop, and all the clergy..."

During last week's mass, the line was again changed to acknowledge our new Pope, saying:

"Together with Francis, our Pope, Honesto, our bishop, and all the clergy..."

On my way home, I couldn't help but think that I've seen the changing the guardians of the Catholic Church - the Pope and our Archbishop - twice. Which is quite an extraordinary and inspiring feeling.

Aside from the feeling that I must really be getting old.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Worth a T(ea)ry

Yesterday morning, during our learning session at the office, our Admin person served Chowking for recess. One of the items she ordered was Chowking's Wintermelon Milk Tea. Being the tea lover that I am, I tried it.

I must say, It's. So. Good.

The drink has that rich wintermelon tea taste, made even more special with cream cheese topping. Yup, the same thing you find in Happy Lemon.

This combination makes for a drink that's creamy and light. And not to mention cheap!

It's the first time I tried it, and it definitely won't be the last.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I gotta Habit

Saturday morning.

Just like what I'm accustomed to, I automatically woke up at 5:30am.

I sat on my bed for a few minutes, then grabbed my towel and went down to the first floor. I drank cold water to get my day started, and proceeded to wash my face.

This is how my day starts every Saturday. It starts early because I have a 7:30am class.

As I was about to take a shower, it hit me.

Classes are over!

And I went back to bed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

FMM: It's Official!

The heat outside says it.

The scorching sun says it.

And now, even Pag-Asa confirmed it.

It's summer time!

Time to make Summer travel plans! (To the tune of Mungo Jerry's classic 70s tune, of course. It's a Friday, after all.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New /editions

Debenhams isn't a stranger to designer collaborations. For the longest time, they had Julien Macdonald, Matthew Williamson, Jasper Conran, Henry Holland and Ben de Lisi in their roster.

When I passed by Debenhams in Shangri-La Mall recently, I was pleasantly surprised that they had a new set of designer collaborations. Collectively called /editions, the Manila store featured clothing by 2 popular international designers. Unfortunately, these 2 designers don't have a big following in the Philippines yet.

I'm talking about Roksanda Ilincic and Johnathan Saunders. I've been seeing their work in Lane Crawford in HKG, and it's always a joy to see their creations.

This isn't the first time Johnathan Saunders had a collaboration. A few years ago, he brought his color blocking sensibilities to Topshop, and that collection was sold in SG. I remember wanting to buy a dress, but they didn't have the right size.

For Roksanda Ilincic, though, this is the first time I've seen her make clothes for a fast fashion brand. And from the pieces I've seen, she's successful in marrying mass marketability with couture.

That said, her clothes are a bit pricey, though. And knowing that it'll go on sale in a few months or so, I'm holding out before I actually consider getting any of these new pieces.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Subtracting Multiply

Last year, it was announced that the social networking arm of Multiply would be discontinued by December 31, 2012. They asked that all files be backed-up since all the existing personal sites of multiply will be deleted. So I did.

January 1, 2013 came, and my multiply page was still there. And it was still there until March 2013. So, I breathed a sigh of relief since I thought that they ditched the plan of deleting the personal sites.

When I checked out my multiply site again this afternoon, it was gone! Deleted. Zilch. Zip. Nada.

It was a nasty sort-of-surprise.

But I'm glad that I was at least able to save my photos from multiply before this happened.

Bye, multiply.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weapon of Fash destruction

Designers like Alexander McQueen made spikes and studs so en vogue that they've become semi-permanent fixtures in the fashion scene. First, they came out in jackets, then in clothes, and eventually, it made its way to accessories and shoes.

Previously, I bought shoes with little spikes in front. Then, I bought shoes with spikes at the back. But 2 weeks ago, I decided to go all out and bought these fierce little babies:

They're fully spiked shoes in cracked, metallic black, patent leather!

There's so much attitude in these shoes that they're best worn with a plain t-shirt and jeans. Another option would be a plain button down and black trousers. Any which way, it's sure to add that much needed punch to any outfit.

When I bought these, the sales lady told me that when the guard saw these shoes when it was being delivered, they almost rejected it since it can qualify as a deadly weapon. And seeing how sharp the spikes are, it can indeed qualify as a weapon.

A weapon of fashion, that is.

Monday, March 18, 2013

New brands in town

In between meetings, the accounts people and I decided to have lunch at the new Glorietta - a place which really rates high in the swank factor. (The highest swank rating has to be the East Wing of Shangri-La Mall. Heck, it feels like I'm in Singapore or Japan!)

While roaming around after lunch, we discovered that the 2 new Spanish brands that we've been anticipating for are finally open!

Too bad we were pressed for time. We didn't get a chance to really go around and check out the merchandise.

But knowing these brands, I'm sure they'll be ultra chic and fashionable.

Welcome to the Philippines, Bershka and Stradivarius!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The future looks bright

Yesterday, we had our integrated finals for our 3rd year Advertising Management and Copywriting classes.

Their finals was deceptively simple. They had to choose a small business around the Taft Avenue area, and propose an Integrated Marketing Campaign. The clincher was that they had to create one from both a strategic and creative stand point.

After hearing the 4 groups present, I was impressed.

Truth is, one of my co-professors (who was a former boss) said that this was the worst batch he's ever handled. Of course, I disagreed because I see a lot of potential in this batch of Juniors.

It's true that they sometimes lack focus. And come late. And are too rowdy. And fix their hair while in class. And come across as frivolous. But hey, that's what real people in the real industry do.

We sometimes lack focus. And come late. And are too rowdy. And fix our hair before client meetings. And come across as frivolous. So, that isn't too bad.

Besides, even if they aren't the usual straight-laced students, they have a lot of innate creativity within them. Their finals are a perfect testament to that.

Their strategies were sound and I could see the thought process they put into it. Some of their creative materials were out-of-the-box and could easily pass off as something a professional did. Even Chally was impressed at the quality of the work. So was the client who sat in.

Too bad that my co-professor couldn't attend the finals. He might change his mind after this.

Yes, they're not perfect. But if this class represents the future of advertising, I think there's a bright future ahead.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

At 22

It's nice to listen to a Taylor Swift song that's not too heavy on angst or ex-boyfriend references. Her latest song - "22" - has that fun sound of Taylor's early years, but the lyrics are a bit more of Taylor now. (Yes, she can't help but make references to ex-boyfriends.)

After listening to the song several times, the question I asked myself was: "What was I doing at 22?"

At 22, I was:

- on my second job at San Miguel Corporation
- given my first management job
- handling a team composed of my Dad's old team members
- traveling to 3 countries in 1 month for work
- traveling around the Philippines for work
- editing my own videos
- making new friends who eventually became long-term friends who I still hang out a lot with up until now
- doing so many things at the same time, I would stay at the office until Sunday!

Gosh, it looks like a was a very busy 22-year old back then.

Friday, March 15, 2013

FMM: Ride the wave

It's Friday!

And I think I'll take a break from the 60s and 70s, as well as disco and ballads. Today, I'm in the mood for a little new wave - the genre du jour when we were in high school and college.

Hands down, one of my favorite new wave groups was Depeche Mode. It was one of those things that my brother - Biboy - and I had in common.

Our favorite Depeche Mode song? Of course, it's no other than "People are People."

They're another reason to love the 80s even more.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pet peeve of the week

It's just irritating when people who use the ATM request for a transaction receipt, then throw it away immediately after it's dispensed by the machine.

There's something called "paperless transaction" people!

Sometimes, I just want to take the piece of paper that they threw away and throw it back at them.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mindless entertainment

I'm surprised to see that "Movie 43" is actually going to be shown in Manila. While browsing through the newspaper, I found out that it's opening today.

Despite my packed-to-the-minute-48-hour-schedule in SG a few weeks ago, we were actually able to squeeze in this movie. All I can say is that it's pure, unadulterated, mindless entertainment. And it's one of those films that actually got me laughing and cringing in the theater.

That actually made me feel a bit embarrassed since majority of the people in the theater weren't laughing.

Goes to show how much humor Singaporeans have.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wash happened?

I went to the supermarket in search of my usual body wash, Simply Ivory Aloe. I've been using this for years already, and I've always been drawn to the simplicity of its packaging. It's very Ivory.

To my (unpleasant) surprise, they've changed the packaging! Now, it's a mix of green and white, and there's an unsightly aloe vera icon hogging the bottle. And to make matters worse, they've changed the font of Ivory as well. It's now a straightforward, sans serif font which lacks the warmth of the original.

Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer the old packaging.

Monday, March 11, 2013

She(ila)'s the best

When I woke up this morning, I suddenly remembered Sheila E. (Go figure!)

That triggered the urge to listen to "The Glamorous Life" all over again.

I think she's one of the more underrated talents of the 80s. She was a great percussionist and vocalist, and she was at her best doing both.

This is one of those songs that I can listen to again and again and again.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Raspberry nice

Thanks to Alfie, aka Ms. Knee high boots, I was able to try M&Ms Raspberry!

This combination is perfect since it has two of the things that I like a lot - dark chocolate and berries.

After trying a few pieces, I must say that it's chocolate perfection!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The height of coolness

As this blog can attest, I've always been a big fan of Oxfords. There's something old school cool about them.

I have a couple of pairs, and I've bought my sisters a lot of oxfords as well.

And just as I thought it couldn't get any cooler, I find this pair at CMG!

From the top, it looks like Oxfords with a twist - which it is. The twist is that unlike the usual oxfords that are flat, this one has height. A lot of it.

They're cork wedge oxfords. Isn't that cool? And to add to the cool factor, it has tasseled lace and a cut-out top.

You can't get cooler than that.

Friday, March 08, 2013

FMM: Hot!

After walking under the heat of the sun and feeling the heat while crossing the street, it's official.

Summer is here!

And yes, it's hot, hot, hot! (Just like this old Brazilian song.)

Thursday, March 07, 2013

A Grand Grandfather

If Lolo Iking were still alive, he would've been 103 years old today. 

In celebration of his birthday, Ate Lissa made and posted this on her facebook page. It perfectly captures the sentiments of all his 22 grandchildren.

It's been almost 24 years since he's left us, but we still feel the void from his passing. That was how grand a man Lolo Iking was.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Get your cotton on

When Arnie told me that she's sending me something via courier, I was excited. Mainly because I had an idea what it was.

Arnie is a former colleague, fashion conspirator and long-time friend. We worked together in 2 agencies, would always talk about movies, travel and inspirations, and would sometimes critique what our officemates are wearing.

A year ago, she decided to dabble in perfume making. Her brand, ladelu//, is an artisanal scent company and she always comes up with new olfactory concepts that never fail to excite her customers. With her advertising and fashion background, it's no wonder that her products come in simple and chic packaging.

I told her that I'm a big fan of the Clean line of perfume, and she told me that she had a similar one in her repertoire. After telling her how much I was interested in it, she said that she'll mix up a batch using her original formula, but added some more notes to fit my personality.

The result is "Cotton." This is actually one of her best sellers, but tweaked with me in mind. How's that for artisan!

The perfume is AWESOME! It captures the scents that I like, namely, freshly laundered cotton clothes, soap, fabric softener, and the smell of a clothes dryer when you've just removed your clothes from it. It doesn't smell like you put on a scent. Rather, it smells very organic. Which is great when - like me - you don't really like putting any kind of scent on.

Whilst I know that her perfume creations are being enjoyed by a lot of customers and that this is a trajectory she's taking, I'm still looking forward to seeing Arnie's other creations. Particularly, that fashion line that she'll show at Philippine Fashion Week.

Until then, thanks for the perfume, Arnie!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Debutante diaries 2: Sketch and scratch

After studying the fabrics from the stash, and taking into consideration my sisters' personalities, their dresses for my niece's debut was starting to take shape.

Since Ate Lissa's fabrics were very young and whimsical, her dress also had that same youth and whimsy.

The printed fabric formed majority of the dress, and it'll have a ruched top and a full skirt. The low-V in front and the barely-there back needed support, so the nude tulle was used to create that. It still had the illusion of being risque, without the actual risks.

Ate Bullet's aesthetic is very "classic with a twist." Her fabrics were both classic (the coral colored) and with a twist (abstract print).

To create that balance, the top will utilize the printed fabric in a strapless, peplum cut. To keep it from being too plain, a literal twist was added on the bodice. The skirt is an a-line silhouette, again to give it that classic flavor.

After the sketches, it was up to the dressmaker to make these from scratch.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Tonight's cheap thrill

Here's something I haven't done in decades.

I went to a sari-sari store!

On my way home, I had a sudden craving for a mint gum, and I didn't want to go to the supermarket to buy a whole bag. So, for the first time in almost a decade, I went to the sari-sari store in front of the compound and bought gum there.

Seeing candies in those plastic jars, talking to a "tindera," and saying the classic lines: "Pabili po..." were such a thrill.

I should do this again soon.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Double happiness

This is what happens when you go to a double markdown sale at Forever 21.

Next time, I'll make double sure to stay away when this happens. Harhar.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

One, two free!

Yesterday, I went to The Podium to buy the latest issue of Elle with Taylor Swift on the cover. What can I say? I really like Taylor Swift. Hahaha.

While I was paying, the sales clerk pointed me towards a rack of back issues and said: "Sir, kuha po kayo ng dalawang back issues 'don. Libre po 'yon."

So, I ended up with two free magazines!

How's that for a great deal!

Friday, March 01, 2013

FMM: Feeling Phyllis

It's a nice feeling when a song you haven't heard in ages just pops up on the radio. Then, all the fun and sentimental memories of that era just come back and transports you to those carefree days.

That was the feeling I got when they suddenly played this Phyllis Hyman classic on the bus I took to work.

Hearing songs like these is what makes Friday so magical.