Sunday, November 30, 2008

My last day of November

I had mass at Magallanes today and realized that tomorrow is December 1st. Yikes. We're stepping in to the last month of the Calendar, the month of Official Christmas and the month of festivities and gastos. Nevertheless the advent candle was lighted and I'm no where near stopping time.

What have I done so far in this year that would be considered spectacular and life changing? Getting a new job is one, but hardly the best annual experience. Anyone trying could get a good job anytime of the year, nothing special. I think I'm going back on track with my financial independence, but not quite stable as I want yet. I'm capturing strength in my chosen creative roots as my constant outlet and a-la Edward Cullen "own brand of heroine." I adopted Harvey Elizander, my adorable rascal JRT pet. ANd we finally transferred and continue to build memories in our new house.

It wasn't a total blast but I had a lot to thank for still. This year is not my worse and it's not my best either, but I cannot complain. I'll save any rants when I'm drunk in one of these December days. After all, December is made for cheering no matter if it's reality or illusion based.


Beat the TMX Challenge

I was practically away in the blogosphere for the whole Saturday because of two reasons. The primary one is that Mitch and I were invited by an unexpected party, and unexpectedly we confirmed.

JOINING THE MARLBORO EXPERIENCE:

Mitch and I were invited by the Tobacco manufacturing giant, Marlboro, to devote our whole Saturday full of fun activities they have prepared for us. No other catch, clandestine marketing or unwanted gimmicks are to be expected. Since we are such city-slickers, we haven't planned anything for this long weekend and I gladly confirmed despite the hesitation. The primary hesitation is that I'm not what you would call a typical smoker. I smoke if I need to pack a heavy bloated meal or if I need help finishing up my "unloading" business (For smokers, they are familiar with this benefit). Other than that, I can completely live and course through life gracefully without cigarettes. However, I wanted to try this Marlboro Experience even though I'm "not-your-typical-consumer" because I associate myself with the brand.

So despite the lack of sleep for the past few days, I woke up at 6:45 in the morning of a lazy gloomy Saturday as Mitch picked me up an hour later as we headed our big butts to M Cafe in Greenbelt for the first freebie activity of TMX (The Marlboro Experience), which is BREAKFAST and REgistration. Mitch was eager to mingle as I am eager to eat, but the traffic was horrendous from Magallanes to Makati that I think, because of lack of breakfast and decent sleep, I was able to release so much profanity in the air. We honestly thought we'd never make it on time as the organizer kept texting us already. But good thing, we arrived 10 minutes before they were expected to leave and we just managed to fill our plates with sumptuous tapa, humongous grilled vegetables and MIA scrambled eggs. While there, young photographers were already flocked taking random pictures of practically "strangers"in the whole-day event. Participants who are present are not that old and not that young either, ranging from around 25-35 is my best bet. There were few minor and fallen celebrities, there are obvious flamboyant characters and others had CLUELESS spelled on their faces thinking that they should've declined and stayed at home. It took me the whole trip to Batangas and a couple of activities to realize that GLAD THEY DIDN'T.

All I can say is that we felt VIP all the way. From the moment we had breakfast at M Cafe and throughout the trip, we didn't shell out a single cent nor we weren't hassled in anyway. We left there in pre-assigned groups, riding VIP Black Ford Vans assisted by a couple of highway patrol motorcylces and a Paramedic van. Seeing the Paramedic van, I panicked. I texted Mitch what the hell was a paramedic doing in our presence and why do I feel slightly similar to an amazing race contestant, ala VIP style? Mitch, being a natural extrovert and a Marlboro fan, just laughed it off and quickly built peers. Whereas I kept texting a friend who was asleep at a time to ward off my apprehensions. My apprehensions being the fact that there's a Paramedic in sight, we would be doing some activities or sport stuff which I'm not comfortable with. And if I'm not comfortable with Sport stuff I just naturally become "sucker" at it. ANd if I suck in a group, we might eventually lose and I cannot afford to create enemies here as this event lasts for the entire day, in Batangas no less.

I hoped for the best and figured out a couple of excuses I can come up with if ever they request me to do mountain climbing or something extremely daring that involves either running or jumping under the sun's heat. Warding off Bad thoughts, I began to feel amused at how brilliant our "convoy" system was. For the entire trip, I didn't remember once stopping in the highway. We were escorted all the way to Batangas that I think we broke every traffic rule. We traveled at high speed, not breaking the formation with patrols assisting us. WE could only see the look on the motorists faces to think that we're some form of dignitaries. Yeah, right. I bet the main reason for moving in such a VIP and fast pace is to avoid stop overs and extreme smokers shaking from temporary smoking withdrawal.

IN an hour or even less, we got to the Factory just in time as officials and employees dressed in black shirts welcomed us for another set of refreshments and of course the anticipated smoking break. The factory was sleek, huge and very modernized. Smokers were in awe to be stepping on their version of a "chocolate factory" as they spoke with officials who head the production and marketing the brand of cigarettes that consumers patronize. While doing that, they smoke like crazy, opening packs, trying out all Marlboro flavors and just living the life.

After a couple of photo-ops and refreshments, they led us to a chill-out lounge with sofas with every kind of Marlboro packs presented at the table. A sexy Marlboro girl took over as our host and introduced heads of marketing and production departments to provide a brief introduction to wipe off the doubts on our faces. The lounge part felt like some sort of a symposium and film viewing as we were presented with facts and advertisements on why Marlboro is the BEST CIGARETTE brand in the whole world. I was practically amused on the facts that they've presented versus the sales figures of their closest competitors. Not one brand could come across Marlboro's figures. I also found out that Marlboro holds the best campaign ever in history, with the Cowboys in their Marlboro country theme. And I never thought that Marlboro started as a woman's cigarette that developed into a masculine and most reverred cigarette in the market.




After the lounge introduction, we were led to their gigantic factory with spacious interiors and state-of-the-art machines. It was clean, it was spacious and there were minimal people in the area. We saw how cigarettes were made efficiently and how QA's are randomly done. Officials take pride on getting the finest tobacco ingredients all over the world, perfecting the blend of (Burley leaves for the kick, Fleurcured for the flavor, and Oriental for the aroma) to create the perfect blend) of Marlboro cigarettes. We saw how filters and papers were filled with blended tobacco and how they were cut, packed and distributed to the designated boxes. The factory runs 24/7 and produces millions of cigarette sticks in a day. All the way, being amazed at how cigarettes were made, on the back of my head, I was silently wishing I was in a chocolate factory and I would've requested to take samples and run the machines myself.

AFter the quick factory field trip, we had a sumptuous catered lunch at the lounge and grouped ourselves for my MUCH DREADED activities. I think my heart palpitated at that time. Good thing Mitch was my groupmate so someone could back me up if there's an intense need to pass an excuse. WE were given red TMX shirts to wear and headed to their huge open field full of race tracks and some mini-flags.

It was KARTING and RC (Remote control) Race against groups of RED, YELLOW, GREEN and my team, BLUE. In RC I had no previous experience whatsoever. IN Karting, I've tried it once or twice in my life, but I could hardly call myself as a bearable Kart driver, and anyways the previous tries I did it just for fun and not for a legitimate race.

So, deciding the less evil, I tried RC racing first and saw the fuel powered 4x4 whirling in frenzy. I saw how my team mates and other people hurdle, run and maneuver those little rascal machines to go through all the obstacles with little demerits as much as possible. THe goal being is to transport as much packs of cigarettes with less demerits. Demerits were handed if the car tumbled, collided with other cars and went out of bounds. Since our group of 10 were divided into two (try out each race), Mitch and I tried RC first and totally, surprisingly enjoyed ourselves.

It was fun seeing the little cars tumble and whirl around like helpless puppets in the hands of the remote controller. I saw Mitch run in full concentration as our BLUE SUV car ran past bricks and go under the river. WE didn't care of demerits we'll be getting because we all had good clean fun. We didn'tprioritize winning, although we joked about it during the race. I went in last and I was the last person to unload two cigarettes in the bin. At the unofficial tally (without the demerits), our Blue team scored the highest and we were happy with that, no matter how unofficial. It was a surprise that I was having fun and exchanging a couple of conversations with practical strangers. Maybe I was that lucky that my groupmates' personalities didn't get on my nerves and it also helped that I experienced something fun, no matter how complicated.

After RC, we switched with our subgroups and tried Karting. IN Karting, just like any race, it was packed with adrenalin. I'm not what you would call an aggressive driver, but in Karting I let go. I was going full speed ahead, made sharp turns that forced my arms and torso to work and shamelessly banging occasionally in piled tires in the track. Dawned in suit, helmet and gloves, I was screaming and having fun while learning the basic rules of Karting. I wasn't exactly the model driver, but I managed to course through and hopefully contributed to the team. I wasn't the weakest link, at least I'm sure of that.

After the activities, I met with my team mates and I found out that everyone had fun. With good vibes and a sponsored Sausage Merienda, we were ecstatic to find out who the winners were. At the rewarding time, the Blue team was called for winning the Marlboro Trivia constest (The brainiac) contest that happened earlier. We got our pictures, got out keychain and shirt prizes as we prepared to win the grand prize. We self-proclaimed ourselves the entire winners already, but it was announced that Yellow team got the best in Karting and RC racing. And their rewards were Ducati shirts, key chains and the ever-coolness Ducati bag that we were salivating for.

After the announcement, we headed back to the lounge to wash up and eat another set of merienda before leaving the complex. Everytime there was a chance, Marlboro never seemed to lose any amount of refreshments nor food. We were well taken cared of.

AT around 7 pm, we left the factory, so tired and still slighly full from the sumptuous lunch and two rounds of merienda. Again the trip back to Manila was funny because we were again escorted by high way patrols as we broke every swerving rule possible. In Makati, we even took the counterflow lanes and just left the motorists clueless and irritated, I'm sure.

We landed in front of M Cafe as Mitch and I unloaded our stuff in the car parked for almost 12 hours in the basement. We enjoyed M Cafe's sumptuous dinner and chatted with semi-formed friends in the team. Towards the end of dinner, the officials announced one last reward to the group that got the best cigarette blend challenge. You see, awhile ago after learning how to make cigarettes, we were tasked to make our very own blend with our own mixtures of flavorful and strong leaves. Somehow, with estimates and luck, we got the best blend and we got ourselves a new version of a DUCATI Bag. We posed for another happy photo-op as we clutched our bags and proclaimed ourselves the INDOOR BRAINIAC GROUP. WE figured we kept winning the indoor challenges despite that we always go second at the Outdoor challanges. Not bad. I'm more inclined to participate on indoor challneges anyways. As the night ended, Marlboro Management gave each and everyone of us distinct limited edition framed pictures as a token of their appreciation. Not one frame is similar so that made it extra special.

After dinner and a few chit chats we bade our wonderful group mates goodbye and left the party while they were still having cocktails. AT around 9, I got home and showed my freebies to my mother and father, which they highly appreciated. They didn't even ask me why I was there, because they knew I was there for the food anyways. As expected my sister loved the loot bags full of ashtrays, tin cans and Marlboro special edition lighter I brought and she asked me to enlist her for the next year's event.

To sum it up, TMX is one of the best spontaneous experiences one has to try. For avid smokers, it's heaven to be where the brand is actually being made with endless supplies within their grasps. For the uneducated few like me, it's nice to know the success behind Marlboro and the advertising campaign behind it. For outdoor enthusiasts, they would have fun with RC and Karting while engaging with people who are educated and from all walks of life. I take it that the organizers screened for participants. For the indoor introverts like me, it's not the ideal walk in the park, but it's manageable with endless supply of food and knowledge.

Marlboro is indeed a powerful company that knows its business and knows how to take care of their market. What they did involved lots of preparation and not all companies have the time, budget nor prestige to pull off what they did last Saturday. Like they said, it's a way of educating consumers and thanking consumers for patronizing the Marlboro brand. We felt appreciated and taken cared of as we enjoyed every minute of it. Sadly, we couldn't bring cameras and take photos because Marlboro's hired professional photographers to exclusively capture every moment. I just hope if ever my pictures will be exposed in public, it would be less incriminating than I've imagined har har. Well, that's the least of my worries now, who freaking cares? I enjoyed! The Marlboro Experience was worth it.

But then again, just like the stupid "government warning" in packs, I'm advising everyone that if ever THEY REALLY need to smoke, to just smoke moderately and of course go Marlboro.





Friday, November 28, 2008

JUST...YAY to Activities

A Marketing officer of Marlboro called me up yesterday and invited me and Mitch to go on a tour with a couple of invited guests to their plant in Batangas. We are requested to participated and enjoy the activities they have prepared special emphasis on bloggers like me. Meeting place is at M Cafe at Greenbelt tomorrow for breakfast and another dinner treat at M Cafe as the day-ender.

Naturally, there's a catch. I have to blog. But blogging without any restrictions whether I liked the prepared activities or not is the deal. For bloggers, this is already a familiar territory. The company is trying out a new marketing strategy to keep their brand updated without much added advertising costs. They might see the benefits of reaching in a massive spectrum through blogs. THey know that blogs these days can never be underestimated. WEll, if that is the catch, then we consider it as a double treat!

It's just so funny that my friend Tim and I were fixing our schedules earlier this week to have lunch at M Cafe since he's so intrigued of how M Cafe revamped their menus. Who would've thought I would be experiencing it so soon and for free? Didn't mind to make him envious, but I really had to share. Maybe that will give him second thoughts on actually starting a blog. He's a brilliant writer and I just feel that it's a waste. Plus if he could get freebies like this, what more could he ask for? IT's a matter of popping the Intellectual Property paranoia.

Even though I realized that I've been losing sleep for the past couple of days. I should be maximizing this long weekend, but I've got activities lined up and this interesting activity is something I could not pass up. I just have apprehensions though. I'm sure I'll be super exposed to massive smokers for the entire trip and they even advised us not to bring any more cigarettes because of shimmering tobacco freebies. It's not something I'd be exciting about though except for Christmas gifts to some avid smokers out there. I'm sure MItch will snap at my me a dozen times tomorrow, for snapping back at him, but I'm totally prepared for that.

But I'm more excited to find out the growth of the company and the mechanisms that put them where they are now. A trivial knowledge on the tobacco industry is kind of interesting too. I hope we get to be educated with that. Although I just hope that it's not a forced smoker's gang or anything that by the time I reach M Cafe I might smell like the plant itself, but reeking of stale tobacco mixed with sweat and soot. Eeew.

A dear friend also texted me that she has discounted tickets for Hairspray showing tomorrow, but I've already told her of my commitment. Blast. It would've been a tough choice. I love making tough decisions and somehow Marlboro just beat her to the punch. That's cool, Hairspray's still showing till December anyways. I only have one day at a time to fully experience life's free pleasures.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My thoughts on Commuting

People who know me would gag themselves if they find out that I’m open to commuting. They would instantly remember the temper tantrums I’ve displayed when, at the time of intense need, my driver couldn’t drop me off at my destination. Or they would look back at how resourceful I was to hitch with a friend or actually bribe a friend to drive me around in exchange for wonderful meal. Or probably they would snicker at the thought that I took an easy, yet expensive way of moving around (taxi) when I could’ve suffered in the sweltering heat, exposed to the extreme forms of transportation that are so distinctly Pinoy.

I would not deny that I was all that. Still am. But can you blame me? I was a victim of heat waves, time constraints and “events” constraints that at times I curse the world for letting me commute in such dreaded conditions. I specifically hate the feeling of getting neatly dressed just to feel drained and sweaty in less than 10 minutes as if I ran a 5K marathon in a chamber of soot and carbon monoxide. I also hate the feeling of being late due to incompetent fools who happen to operate the transportation. I don’t like arriving at my destination sweaty, cranky and dirty just because most transportation systems here, backed by the weather, are so inconvenient and so unforgiving to commuters. I’m not being bratty about this. I just don’t believe that anyone is happy to travel at sweltering heat, catching a deadline in shackled transportation with no air conditioning, insanely foul driving surrounded by unhygienic facilities.

But this isn’t the case in a more pleasant transportation conditions I’ve experienced. I’ve experienced commuting in more developed countries and I had no complaints with walking or not having to drive at all. In fact I never wanted to drive if the commuting conditions are so efficient because I would feel that owning a car will actually form as a liability. But here in the Philippines, where streets are cramped and people have no profound sense of discipline, I think commuting is such a pain in the ass.

Humid, tropical weather also helps in the inconvenience, but I still believe that a large weight is accounted by not giving importance to infrastructure and transportation. Insert a culture of “palakasan” and selfishness and you get undisciplined motorists. Roads aren’t enough to accommodate the swerving buses that do not care if they’re making main roads as their own terminals. Jeeps are constant obstacle objects in cramped up streets. Taxis are your ground versions of a roller coaster ride and some transportation are just so unhygienic and maxed out that it’s already hazardous to commuters.

If we could only implement a stricter bus service with a well implemented schedule of their arrival at specific stations, then I think we could eliminate heavy traffic and massive gathering of people. With stricter implementations of schedules people would become more aware and not be like sitting ducks waiting for buses to arrive. It saves people time and effort in depending on each other.

If we could only have regulatory boards that inspect transportation facilities, we could avoid mechanical accidents and dirt spreading around the populace. WE could eliminate the sight of creepy crawlers going from one seat to another. It could create a more positive traveling outlook for all of us.


If we cannot accommodate widening of roads, why not increase Train Stations? For me Trains are my most favorite mode of transportation. It’s faster, it’s more efficient and it can be more supervised and regulated. Imagine if I step out of my village and have a mini-tricycle taking me to the well-maintained train station in Bicutan, with a connecting trip to Makati and connecting stations in the stretch of Ayala, I don’t think I would’ve been happier. It would cost less for me and the travel time would be shortened since it’s scheduled and maintained. It would lessen people depending on cars for metropolitan trips. It would be more regulated and more efficient for people who don’t have enough time or enough resources for gas. It’s good that we have LRT, MRT and LRT2 but I really think these are not enough. Try going to MRT at 6:30 in the morning and tell me about it. There is so much potential to make this land infused with trains. It could even be stretched to provincial reach. That would’ve been excellent.

While I was riding a taxi earlier, I thought of a prepaid system that we could actually use in paying taxis or buses. It would’ve been more convenient to have a prepaid card which the driver would just swipe in their modern-age metering machines as payment transaction. It would avoid us getting short changed by drivers and it could provide a distinct computation as a receipt. I always hate it when I would give more than I should just because the driver and I don’t have enough change. It also sucks to be demanded by the driver to put the payment scheme at our discretion, and if they don’t like how much we paid them, they have the gall to demand for more. It also eliminates the use of cash by just putting up thousands of prepaid centers as reloading centers. And if the transportation modes in this country are integrated, we could even use the card either in trains, buses or taxis. It’s a better way of noting our expenses, and for parents to efficiently budget their kids’ transportation allowances.

Slap me for dreaming.

With the conveniences of public transportation and its accessibility to main points, I don’t see any reason of being queasy about not having cars to get around. I even see it as a more independent way of getting around. It’s so cosmopolitan and liberating. Thinking about it I can envision myself shifting at trains like in Japan, waiting at bus stations in LA and be confident that I’ll get to my destination, minus the traffic and added expenses. Commuting would be such a breeze in this situation otherwise it would only take you a week’s notice here in the Philippines to realize it’s actually crap to the highest level.

Truancy Due to Twilight

I just finished a Freebie Starbucks meeting with my Manager, which accounted for the delay in this post. She is leaving for the STates tomorrow and she just wanted to make sure everything's A-Okay. Ironically, I arrived earlier than her considering that the whole morning I was literally MIA in my desk.


Around 12ish:


I’m guilty, if there’s such a thing, for skipping professional responsibilities. My morning started late at around when I woke up at 8 am. I took a bath, had tiramisu for breakfast and even had the gall to watch HBO Central's One on One segment (knew about the revolutionary movie HARVEY MILK). I asked the driver to quickly take me to the Shuttle Station where I could get an express ride to Greenbelt. In Greenbelt, I spent another hundred bucks for coffee while waiting for the theater counters to open so I could purchase Twilight Tickets for tomorrow night. All for the sake of this hyped up movie.

Actually, I’m a neutral fan. I’m not exactly what Kirsten Stewart would call a “retard" by her standards. I just want to get this thing over with befor Saturday starts or it would just irritate me. I just don’t want to hear any other mixed reviews from any one else. I’m itching to have my first hand reaction of the movie whether it sucked, just bearable or mind blowing excellent (I wish). So, I decided to watch it tomorrow with Mitch, Den and a couple of friends so that we could all save gas money and other expenses than hauling back our butts to Makati over the weekend.

After reading a few chapters of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, I went to the theaters at around 11 am sharp and found out that they don’t open till 11:30. Since my stomach was acting pretty nasty, I took a quick trip to the clean and deserted comfort room and did my nasty business. After a successful outcome, I went down at 11:15 and saw that a line was already formed. I’m betting they’re all lined up for Twilight and they’re redeeming their sure seat tickets for tonight.

When my turn came, I specifically told the lady that I’m buying tickets for Tomorrow night around specified times. She quickly presented to me the available seats and I told her again and again that it was for tomorrow. Not really minding to see if she felt insulted, I specified again that it’s for November 28th, Friday, which is for Tomorrow. Customer service training might have really paid off since she still answered me politely and I finally realized that I was having that comedic double vision wherein my mind would still force to contradict my senses, if it's not something I have realistically imagined. True enough the schedules and seat assignments in front of me were already were indeed for tomorrow night and the available seats were just pathetic.

It was so pathetic that almost every seat’s taken except for the very first rows and staggered single seats. I skipped the 9 pm show times and quickly moved to their available shows at 10. Good thing I saw 5 manageable seats at the right part, although much nearer to the screen. I’ve no intention of watching the movie at around 11 or 12 so I booked tickets with the 10 pm schedule. Good luck to those who are planning to watch the movie tomorrow night and still haven’t purchased the tickets online. I guess they would still have to fall in line tomorrow for the showing dates on Saturday or Sunday.

When I got to the office, another set of reviews hounded me. Some liked it, some don’t. Whatever. I would have to find out for myself tomorrow with semi-pathetic seats that is. I just hope my morning truancy was all worth it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There are Joys in Eating Alone...really

I remember when I attended a graduate class in AIM, I was surrounded by younger professionals, meaning younger than 35 but not less than 27. To put it mildly I was the youngest, the naïve and supposedly more attuned to the ‘mainstream.’ Sure, they didn’t take me seriously at first. To comfort both sides, I didn’t take them seriously either. I was just there to learn and be oblivious to their presence. It’s like college minus the “getting to know you part,” which is one of my fantasies.

But because it was a fantasy, it had a slim chance of making it into a reality. So at the end I was pushed to interact which exposed me to egotistical people who think they know better. It’s fine that I do not know basic accounting, nor I don’t harbor any interests with it, but trying to remind me all the time if I can still follow the concept of debit and credit was just too much. You cannot believe the times I wanted to flip my calculator and force a giant number 8 made of pins and needles out of their asses.

So just like always, I recoiled from time to time and took solace with myself. I exposed myself to be busy for people to leave me alone. I read. I surf with an intent look on my face as I’m researching for a cure in AIDS. Soon, I began publicly enjoying lunch while reading, a favorite past time of mine. Others didn’t force the issue and they knew better not to mess with my quality time.

So in one Organizational Development session, this teacher asked the class who takes pleasure in eating alone. I know they all have assumptions. I even caught some gazes fall on me with a snicker to their seatmates. I raised my hand and beat them to the punch. “I do.” And you know the famous comedic scenes in movies where a whole crowd just falls silent and all of them gasp loudly while gawking at the object of disbelief? I think I felt it at that moment. But this brilliant teacher didn’t pay much attention to the shift of class disposition. She just plainly asked me why like a totally experienced psychologist.

Well my answers were simple.

1. I like eating alone, SOMETIMES, because it’s relaxing to eliminate the act of FORCED and SMALL TALK, which are activities that drain me the most.
2. I like eating alone, sometimes, because it makes me appreciate food’s taste and elements more. This is the time I do not get to multi-task and I enjoy it.
3. I like eating alone, SOMETIMES, because I cannot afford to wait for some people to figure out what they want in LIFE (which restaurants to pick) and probably because I’m just so hungry that I couldn’t care less.
4. I like eating alone, SOMETIMES, to get away from potentially disappointing people that might eventually ruin the whole experience.
5. I like eating alone, SOMETIMES, because it’s one of the guiltless pleasures of just being focused on my NEEDS and WANTS without getting any BV reactions. Eating could be a sweet form of selfishness sometimes.

And I didn't understand why people felt so horrified when they found out that I actually like eating alone. I don’t really see it as condemnable. Talking to oneself on public is weird and psychotic, but not eating alone. Whispering loudly in theaters is condemnable, but not eating alone. There are reasons and specific moods that make eating alone a treat. It also doesn’t MEAN that I don’t enjoy eating with LIVE PEOPLE. Of course I’m quite adaptable to that and it has its own joys to it, but if I were caught in a time and place where I badly need to eat and a specific craving is to be satiated, I couldn’t care less if I have someone with me or not. Independence without the baggage.

Eating alone is very liberating especially when you initiate it. It’s one of life’s independent pleasures. It’s not something horrible and it isn’t pitiful like most people think. What’s pitiful is to be surrounded by very horrible people who tease you with foolish jokes like “leave her alone, she doesn’t like eating with people, pare” and snicker at the corner. Poor company would ruin any succulent Wagyu steak in a second.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twilight Teen Delight

And so TWILIGHT, as expected, led the box office this weekend as reports say. It has grossed an estimated 69.6 Million Dollars slightly lower than the predicted 70.5 million for its debut (Oh, okay..). The book’s appeal is the same as Harry Potter’s only that it involves vampire teenage-reality romance. The movie's gross trailed so far away from Quantum of Solace and Bolt that movie analysts knew that this movie hoarded the much bigger slices of the pie.

There’s also one important fact in this recent movie phenomenon. Movie analysts, producers and filmmakers will never again underestimate the power of teenage girls on a hormonal rage. According to statistics noted in random news channels, teenage girls are the drivers and self proclaimed effective promoters of the movie. No longer would the movie industry downgrade the role of teenage girls especially when a positive book adaptation would hit, it only takes filmmakers good delivery for the movie to sustain its skyrocketing growth.

Apparently most liked how the Twilight the movie turned out that some girls were reported to watch it a couple of times, again contributing to the massive ticket sales. Although compared to Harry Potter, there is less imagination and interpretation involved in Twilight since the setting is pretty much realistic and it only delves on the character make-up, development and minimal effects, oh and a fairly dashing clan of vampires to note.

So here in the Philippines at least the premiere is tonight and the official showing is tomorrow and I can just imagine how many people, adult and teens alike, are edging to queue and see the movie first. To hold the bragging rights is definitely essential to a hormonal fanatic, even though most are already aware of the story.

My cousin, whom I’ve encouraged to read Twilight (just because it’s easier to market to non-readers), is requesting I save seats for tomorrow. I bet some of my friends, whom I’ve encouraged to read it also, are at least intrigued on how the movie would turn out. Yesterday while having Lunch at Mexicali, I even heard a yuppie group planning to reserve tickets for tomorrow as they were about to contact who and who for ticketing connections.

The fuss of it all can be very amusing for an observer. I have to say, been there done that. I was once that delusional movie fan once. I didn't particularly liked Ninth Gate and I had my whole HIGH SCHOOL barkada suffer from it! The shame! I still experience moments of euphoria from time to time, movie rupture is more like it and I’d like to think I’ve contributed big in selected movie sales. You know what I'm excited about? Really really excited about??? I can’t wait for the Mad Hatter to come alive in the big screen, but let’s not take the hype out of Twilight forging on full blast. You guys take Edward, personally I'm a Carlisle Fan.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Semi-Thankful

Last Friday a friend of mine was discussing the feeling of cost-cutting in companies and the fear of losing ones job. Before the recession hit, having a job is something easier to acquire that at times it just becomes a casual burden. Most people just take it for granted or with enough capability and desire, just hop from one job to another. As long as there's an ounce of belief in oneself and backed up with capable credentials, there would always be a reputable source of living.

But with recession, the organization one works for do not have enough conscience to accommodate, sift and acknowledge the strengths of its people. This is competition at its finest. A person might see himself strong, but in this act of keeping ones job, it's his strength versus the other. It's a survival of the fittest, although it isn't the case most of the time. If the company has to lay off drastically, it doesn't care if you're a graduate of this or that. It also doesn't care if you've put up great attendance and has always been an admirable employee. If the organization is cost cutting, conscience cannot plug the holes and some people would just have to jump off. The boat couldn't care less if they would miss your 12 hour work efforts.

This friend even told me that when she was based in London early this year, she was a witness to the layoffs of a global Bank. It's quite different from the layoffs that we have in the Philippines. I should know since I was laid off once by a start up research company in New York. Since their clients are filing for bankruptcy, our company cannot afford us and the technology. They gave us a 30 day notice and paid us considerable compensatory pay. My situation seems more ideal, but do not expect the ruthless western markets to have more compassion and room for adjustments. In the western countries, all they would ever need is a pink slip or a quick call from HR to maneuver ones ass off the premises in 10 minutes. They don't give a 30 day extension to let the information sink in for one to look for another job nor do they brief people by giving them false hopes. On the day of notification, everyone is as vulnerable from Supervisor to Staff to Analysts. My friend could not forget the faces of notable professionals sinking in silence, watching their desk phones and hoping they wouldn't get that call. Some created a scene. Some stormed their way out noiselessly without a shame, and some were gracious to say good bye to their colleagues. Letting the information sink in would have to be done at home until the time they find another job again.

People's capabilities are limited in sitting, waiting and praying just like Pat Weber did, a local in Detroit, one of US' most hit states, who lost her job as a construction administrator.

Also a friend of mine told me that one of her friends graduated his Masteral Studies in New York Columbia University, an ivy league institution. It's a no-brainer that any reputable job could land on his lap, but during the recession, his efforts took as long as a year with no results. Now he's crossing continents to start again.

Careers are admirable and dreamed as a target. It's always better to have a career than a job. Everyone has a license to be bold enough to switch comfort zones. But as much as I'd hate to admit it, at these times we cannot afford to dream that big when we have bills and responsibilities. A job just continues the cycle of living in hopes that one does not fall into depression and personal bankruptcy. It is expected that all of us who have a job should still be thankful, but I have to say that it sucks to nurture the mentality of gratitude just because one has a job. We could've done better. I'd rather wish to be more grateful to have more opportunities and choices, and not just grapple on what's available. But if put to the test, can anyone still choose? Underemployment is always better than unemployment, right? Who am I to complain and rant about this? I still have a good job even before the 30 day notice came. I feel someone benevolent still graced down upon me because I could've easily be treading the other road.

That Little Black Watch

How I've prepared this morning, took a bath and prepared to use enough positive creativity to blog when I found out that my precious and favorite Black watch was missing from my mini-drawer. As far as I'm concerned I don't wear that watch on a normal day and the last time I checked it was there where it should be, visible and neatly placed on my mini drawer. People should know not to mess around with me on this because I take care of my watches meticulously. I have sharp selective memory on food, books, movies and my watches.

On specific items that I value like books and my watches, I am very vigilant on where they are placed. I might be in a hurry and misplace them somewhere, but I do prioritize them, I do remember and I go back. And usually these watches have their own strong representations that I know exactly what I wore even as far as last week basing on the activities I did. They are segregated and cataloged in a way that I would know if I've used it based on my sharp recollection of past activities.

But when I went to my room, preparing to go to the other house and write, I figured to take a sneak peek at my drawer for an OC moment on checking up on my watches. When I found out that my BLACK WATCH was missing, my mind started to flare up and I redirected my anger to my sister since she's the only capable devil of wearing my watches on random occasions. Unlike me, watches for her are petty accessories to pull up a look and not to be regarded as an important time masterpiece. I let her be, as long as it goes back to where it should be and not a scratch in sight.

But when people do not cooperate with me, expect me to be on a roll, I explode like Mt. Pinatubo creating havoc in other areas that aren't supposed to be affected. With my voice and sharp words I create terrible chaos that would leave even my parents with the desire to tie me up. Of course my ever prim and proper mother rushed to the scene and tried to slap me to my senses. My sister having seen that she has someone to back her up defended herself until she threw my watches at me. The nerve. In the middle of the chaos she threw the black watch and accused me for not looking thoroughly. What's done is done and my mother was flaring mad at me as I scream for Frame Up.

My positive energy was drained even though I got my Black Watch back. All the positiveness was overlapped by the intensity of the negative. I know that it's been my sickness and people don't need to remind me on how to control my temper. They just don't get it. I could be very patient and chill on so many things. I'm never considered to be expressive nor flamboyant anyways except for stuff that I value most. I expect the highly valuable things in my life are placed where I left it, or if not it would really tick me off. I go to great lengths at upsetting people and squeezing them out of their peace that I end up being that evil witch at the party. But they just don't get it.

I'm tired of explaining myself that there are few things that I value and I expect to be within my control and reach all the time. I know I'm not perfect and I have some lapses at some point, but I value my judgment more. It might be wrong to rely on that so much that I don't seem to trust the world anymore. It sucks, I know. I end up fighting more people than my own target. After what's done, at some point there is a need to apologize, but after the commotion, most of the times, it's great to be left and subside alone.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Harvey: After three weeks

Harvey, after three weeks of familiarity in our household has become a sort of MALE RASCAL JRT DIVA. Not to mention he is constantly cleaned and fed which accounts for his slightly stockier image compared to the 1st day I brought him home.



**First night.


And this was shot during lunch today. He has become stockier, plumper and VERY MAKULIT in short..at home. His antics edition will be posted in the future as he is at his best behavior here, despite silently nibbling his own leash.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Hunt for those Perfect Cupcakes


And so the surprisingly hard Hunt for Exquisite Cupcakes continues.

Why is it so damn hard to book for notable Cupcake Makers out there? So far the 3 famous cupcake makers I’ve recently contacted to customized an order for me in December, but they politely declined due to their cramped schedule. I can’t just settle for anyone else. I have to be specially pleased with the sweetness and overall presentations. I have to taste and see their works, and unfortunately time is running out.

I’m not exponentially interested in Cupcakes just because they’re the recent dessert trend. I want cupcakes because you can do almost anything with it. You can have one bulk order with different flavors. You could have it either in fondant, in buttercream or marshmallow icing. Also, the flavors are crazy. There are wine flavored frostings and fruity creations apart from the usual vanilla, peppermint and lemon. Actually I found in one of recent contacts, who declined, that they have Banana cupcakes with cream cheese.


I prefer to have cupcakes because they're more flexible, cuter and most importantly...portable. It’s not like cake when one gets a slice the whole set up would be ruined. I always see that as the official death of the cake. I'm not also a "BRAND" conscious type of foodie. Everyone's craving at SONJA'S cupcakes. They're good, but I prefer Marta's Cupcakes more. Things like that do vary and price is always a major consideration for me. After much screening, I came as far as posting my orders online and talking with the commissary owners on the phone, but everyone declined due production at inconvenient dates.

This problem is a piece of cake to some. Move on to the next, Yeah Yeah. After I’ve fixed the catering, it’s already expected to be a breeze in fixing desserts and drinks, but in fact I’m really having a hard time. It’s better if I DON'T HAVE ANY BUDGET in mind to have everything in sky's the limit. But there’s nothing harder than working on a budget to get excellent products that are quite harder to acquire on a busy Christmas Season. This is the party season and everyone's demands shoot up. It's hard to sift and get ahead of the priority line.

I don’t really know or care if I should be mad or challenged, but I’m going to get this done before December. I have to get those cupcakes. I have reloaded my guns (THANKS to the REFERRALS) and I’m off to fire this weekend. But before anything else thanks to Hungry Pac’s (Glorietta Food Choices) 3 for 120 PHP oozing Fudgy Chocolate CAKE PROMO for soothing my dessert craving for today. Maybe I should just get some of these if worse comes to worse, which is entirely not bad at all.


PIX Source: tasteetreats.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One of my favorite Good Samaritan Acts

I have a specific desire to help clueless souls looking for the right directions. I’m not talking about giving life’s philosophical explanations and telling people what to do, although the “commanding” part seems a bit tempting. But I’m talking about people who are literally lost. You could see it in their distraught faces and blank clueless looks. Their faces or disposition cracks me up, but the Good Samaritan in me eventually kicks in. Sometimes I even ask them if they want my help.

I usually help those with a definite purpose like messengers, company aides and some helplessly looking professionals in a middle of their purgatories. Just right now, there’s this petite, sweaty and simple looking messenger in a green shirt, with a couple of documents in hand looking at the company names on the floor. Obviously, with the look on his face, he’s not having a ball. He just looks like an ordinary person trying his best to earn a living. I’m sure with his line of work he is overly exposed to the sun, to the dust and to every grouchy people who have no time to entertain simpletons like him. This is where my Good Samaritan kicks in. My sudden daze caught his attention and he asked me where Golden Arches is. I looked at the envelope to get some pertinent data and confirmed that he is indeed on the right floor. I tried to look at the names of the companies, which is a complete insult since I’m sure he knows how to read. I told him to check one room that does not have any sign on their door. With confidence I directed him there as I went to the comfort room.

Almost done with my CR business, I instantly remembered that Golden Arches is a corporate name for McDonald’s. Trying to leave the cubicle, I remembered while I was preparing to be interviewed for my job here, I also got lost and ended up in the same floor number but in the different tower of the building facility. I also remember looking like a complete schmuck figuring out that as much as I love McDonald’s, I don’t know what the hell I was doing there for an interview. It has always been my weakness to ask someone until I was redirected by the receptionist to transfer to the other tower.

So after the appropriate flashback, I ran to the hall looking like a deranged citizen and found the guy asking another clueless guy. I waved at him and like a retard I happily told him where Golden Arches is located. I even told him a shortcut on how to get there. He was relieved and instantly thanked me. As he hopped on to the elevator, I’m sure he prayed that I know what I’m talking about. Understandable.

For tourists, it’s different though. It depends on how they ask and how they address themselves. I don’t really like to attend to cranky tourists as if it’s my fault that the roads are unforgiving and they’re practically a shit load of navigators. It’s not my burden as a knowledgeable local one to help assholes like them. Oh, I’ve experienced a few and I really become malevolent by either shrugging my shoulders or at some point redirecting them elsewhere.

But generally nothing beats showing people the right way. It saves a lot of time, effort and resources. It’s free and sometimes life saving. And for those who are asking, less grouchiness and a simple thank you will do just fine.

BELLA WHO??

In some mall in Pennsylvania, a state quite opposite to Forks Washington where Edward Cullen lives, Robert Pattinson witnessed a massive gathering of screaming and hyper-fanatic Twilight readers outside the mall waiting for him er…so they think is the strongest link to Edward Cullen. At some point, even in San Francisco, a fanatic girl ambushed him and asked for a BITE (take it literally) while he tries to absorb his sudden change of status. Edward Cullen’s chiseled face and suave persona is embedded on Pattinson’s every laugh, smile and frown. The mortal Pattinson on the verge to instant stardom is completely blown away. Just like any breakthrough male performance that embodies a character with supernatural qualities, he would have to live with the sudden rise to fame given to him by teeny boppers in the middle of their hormonal stages.

Confused? Well, probably you’re not a Twilight reader yet. IN the book, Edward Cullen is the worthy vampire to swoon for that’s often described as “chiseled, suave and intense.” The character’s been given a life by Robert Pattinson who once played the equally crushable Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter. Apparently Pattinson has decided which route to fame he would take and I would have to commend his choices. Following Orlando Bloom’s footsteps, eh?

Not only Twilight garnered a large following in young readers, most especially girls, who are very susceptible to the prince-effect charms, but it has reached global status crossing all ages of readers. Even I, at 24, is guilty of envisioning Edward Cullen brought to life and having a tug of war to make me a vampire, although I’m not so sure on the enjoyment of blood as food though. Blood all day is simply boring to me. Just imagine those passionate readers undergoing Hormonal Changes. Dead lock obsession for a couple of years is more like it, it helps them get through high school. I’ve been there, done that with Kurama of Ghost Fighter, and I completely understand the fantasy.

I would have to say that he has to live with the amazement and intense worry that some girls are willing to do anything just to see him even if they end up with a broken nose over a silly stampede. He has to understand there is no “actors’ link” to Edward Cullen, because to some of the intense Twilight and Edward Fanatic readers, ROBERT PATTINSON is EDWARD CULLEN. He will then learn how to politely decline people who request vampirical favors without ruining his career. We know he’s not a vampire, but he still should be aware of the repercussions of playing the part.

I may not know how he exactly feels about this whole situation where Fame is taken to a higher and supernatural level, but I just wish him luck. Good luck trying to live a normal life. Good luck in learning Orlando Bloom’s sustained success from playing the equally famous pretty-boy elf Legolas. He would know better than to abruptly dismiss fanatic Twilight teeny boppers who have missed the “link” of him being the actor of the character. Like all phases, it will pass, I should know. SO I suggest he savor every minute of it because a false move might put a stake to his career.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random Thought: Change

In almost every aspect of life, everything is uncertain. That is something one has to recite in order to adapt to strange, fluctuating times. A giant could easily become a withering temple of hope to those who depend and look up to him. A stable and secured partnership may be instantly broken and stained by a powerful storm. A lineage and heritage could be challenged by new reforms and strategies. Personalities may change through time and time can never be dictated nor forecasted.

To quote my best friend, “To dream of forever is to dream of your doom.” So to those who are feeling stable, secured, blessed and happy, prepare yourselves as a friendly tip, because those do not last forever.

The Emergency House Blessing

November 17, 2008:


I had a pretty weird morning today with my parents on separate occasions. Probably the matter concerned was weird enough for any metropolitan family to handle. No, it’s actually funny considering the circumstances of perished meat and the uncontrollable faucet activity in the newly constructed bathroom. There’s a thin line in human incompetence against something else.

Unfortunately that ‘something else” is not, especially my family, would care to admit. It’s the 21st century and believe it or not, our family is composed of fairly un-caring and un-affectionate individuals that wouldn’t allow any room for supernatural discussions to flourish. I grew up believing that there are spirits, but they exist in a very different plain from mine and I doubt if they have even the slightest benefit or interest in making themselves known to me or my family. They might die the second death trying. They just know we’re a couple of dense fools.

So after a couple of weeks of moving to our old house, we thought everything was moving on gracefully until there was this one tile attached to the main door wall that fell. Not a major catastrophe though, that could be remedied as soon as we call for the mason to come in. Then without any notice, the internet and cable failed, followed by the weird and fluctuating water supply coming from faucets, not to mention malfunctioning air conditioners and flickering of lights. All of these contributed to our maids and mother’s stress level shooting up to thunderous proportions that would drive my father and I insane. We knew that something is definitely not right.

Last night, before I prepare to go out, my mom found out that the newly purchased refrigerator wasn’t working. The whole house feared for its occurrence since we felt that we had enough of unfortunate events related to the house already, plus we couldn’t find any suitable explanation of its failure granted that the machine is new. WE panicked since raw fish and produce were stacked in the sink slowly rotting away.

As they tried to figure out what’s going on with the new ref, we decided to bring the meat back to the old house to be placed in the old refrigerator. But apparently when our maids were about to put the meat they found out that the old refrigerator was also..suddenly…broken. There were just too many SUDDEN events in a day, in a week…in a month.

I wasn’t able to witness how my mother erupted with the latest misfortune because I automatically went to the nearby convenience store to buy ice for impromptu coolers we silently prepared for the meat. It was a choice to buy to the ice or to be witnessed to my mother’s ranting. It was practically a no-brainer.

But it was the last straw.

This morning my dad and I talked on the way to my office and he’s requesting me to calm my mother down. He says he is stressed while everyone’s stressed with the whole cleaning and transition. He wanted me to appease my mother, as if I’m the right person to ask. He was sheepish about it because as much as he’d want to decorate the house for Christmas there are still some “unfortunate” things needed to be fixed that he couldn’t seem to figure out. How come everything was all right before we moved in and only in a couple of weeks certain things and newly purchased machines started to fail. He never wanted to say it, but he was implying that some force of nature is raining on his parade.

When I got to the office with a mental note to talk to my mother for some pending purchase on new Christmas decorations, my mom in return hyperventilated about the stress she’s experiencing in the new house. To sum it all up, she just feels that the vibrations are not right. Vibrations, she says. I have no idea what she’s talking about. Just like my dad, she never wants to utter the word that there might be some spirits lurking at the house telling us to go away. My mother, knowing her, would never want to surrender to the supernatural belief so she just coined them as “negative vibrations.” As if they’re natural enough. That is primarily the reason why she’s booking a priest this Saturday to bless the house immediately.

It’s funny but no one wants to admit that there might be spirits who want us out of the house. Everyone is limiting it to vibrations and forces of nature, but having three unusual incidents for one day is admittedly quite alarming. I’m not trying to sensationalize anything, but I just had to go with my mother’s request to help with the preparations for Saturday. I’m not talking to any priests or anything lest he might think I’m pulling his neck by making him as my last forced resort. I just told my mother that I would buy some food and order housewarming goodies.

Seriously, I honestly don’t know what my parents would want us to do. My siblings and I have never experienced anything supernatural in the new house, or anything hard core in our lives for that matter. We see the misfortunes as product of human incompetence. Although I must admit I am myself baffled by the incidents as if they are orchestrated.

I just agreed that a house blessing might be the key to drive out those negative vibrations. If ever spirits are lurking, I don’t think they’ll ever leave anyways. It’s just a worthy shot to help put everything in an optimistic perspective. I told her that thinking about spirits and ghosts trying to drive us away from the house is simply ridiculous and a quick answer to explain the faulty air conditioning and refrigerator. I’m sure they might be disturbed because we are here to “co-habit” with them, but as far as I’m concerned they shouldn’t be living and expect everything to go with them on the same plane as ours. The least we could do is co-habit with them peacefully and send them requests not to scare us.

Also, if their main objective is to create family discord, I have to find a way to inform them that in our family, discord is a healthy game that we all have learned to manage. We’re not exceptionally sweet and emotional, which always works to our advantage. Discord is just normal living with each other. That is not a good place to strike. It would deem unfruitful.

I’ve also no problem co-habiting with them as long as they don’t find ways to spook me out. They could even join the house blessing on Saturday if they want. Maybe it’s their one way ticket to paradise. I just hope they don’t play around with things and stress my parents out or I’ll be forced to deal with them. ANYTHING than hearing my mother rant is already a more pleasurable alternative.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A little Game I like to play

Despite yesterday’s humid weather, everything was going well. I accomplished what I needed to accomplish for the day, heard mass and calmly enjoyed the night, no crescendo of highs or lows. But to cap the night off, Mitch and I decided to have coffee near the village. We’ve been planning to try the new coffee Shop that projects a more local and homey vibe compared to its more commercialized competitors. We eventually did and unfortunately I was quite disappointed with their Frappuccinos. I could do better with Milo, Crushed Ice and Milk. But nevertheless, we decided to catch up on our reading and headed to the magazine rack.

We hoarded magazines in their stand as he grabbed T3, a gadget magazine and I grabbed OK magazine even though the gossip was already outdated. After minutes of silence and intense reading, one of us would always comment on a particular ad. When Mitch and I would see something both to our interests we would point it out immediately and say what we think about it connecting it with almost everything fancy. If Mitch sees a particular ad of a country, we’d make plans of going there granted that we have enough time and resources. Like last night, he instantly pointed out the Haselblad camera ad that he saw and voluntarily told me that it’s a worthy gift for our 10 year anniversary. I may never want to know how much a Haselblad SLR costs, but I would always indulge his fantasies, as he would mine. I admit that it’s just a silly little game that we both play and I think everyone should try it with someone they would want to share their dreams with. Playing this game with someone and making the goal collective, feed desires and heighten the need to achieve grandier targets. No one gets sued for dreaming, it only puts a person in higher spirits because in the mind there’s a positive plane of seeing them achieved already. Even though it’s only a dream and visualization, it’s always considered a positive start.

In a calm Sunday night amidst all the mundane necessities of life, bills, gas money, quality time, family time, work pressure and uncertainties, we played a fun game we never seem to get tired of. We would always wish to achieve our own dreams and fantasies for each other. But until then, a steady night in a coffee shop and enjoying our little game would suffice.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yes, Dogs do have fever


Ate Ne and Ate Michelle noticed Harvey's gone slightly bigger and stockier. It has only been 2 weeks since he moved in with us. I hardly notice his physical changes since I'm always with him. But there's one particular thing that I do notice. He's become NAUGHTIER and MORE RESTLESS, not slight, but Major! I think that it's a sign that he's adjusting perefctly.

I got this picture while I was cleaning my hard drive. This picture of him makes me laugh. This is how he looks like running, wide-eyed and ears flapping, like a woman's hair on a top-down drive.

Apparently he still has fever due to some consecutive shots he had yesterday. But the doctor said it will pass. Worried, but when I saw how he ate two big slices of apple a while ago, I knew he'd be okay. He never lost his appetite.

This dog really makes me happy. Isn't it too obvious by now?

My evident Party Priority


My cousin celebrated her birthday last November 1st. Instead of the normal cake, I bought her this assorted set of Marta's cupcakes (Serendra Fort near Abe). Since at that time my family was already in the process of transferring to the other house, few plates were available, so I figured to go for a portable type of dessert.

I also did this as part of scouting for perfect cupcakes for December. Versus Sonja's cupcakes, we have to say that this is better. I've assessed it. My sisters and cousin assessed it. My mom and aunt tasted it. And basing it from JD's (supremo judge) reaction, Marta's Cupcakes won. It's not too sweet and the size is just right. The icing wouldn't really gag you with too much sugar, butter and lemon. The taste is kid and adult friendly.

Now I'm still in the process of elimination. I've tried whatever that needs to be tried, although I still have a list of multiply cupcakes sellers. Gosh, I'm taking too long to decide on cupcakes alone, when I should be thinking of other stuff like...drinks. Anyone could be able to see my priorities now.

Ugh. Stress....

Pistachio Green Light


This morning I've already talked to my sister's designer friend about a dress project I've commissioned her to do. She already got the idea and I felt so squeamish talking about dress stuff, like a complete human in Mars understanding their brand of Chemistry. I wasn't much help, all I ever did was to pick the color, the material and beyond that I always sing the same statement, "Whatever floats your boat." Basically, I'm giving her the full responsibility of wowing me. Tsk. Tsk.

After the quick meeting, I drove to the Catering Company and settled my reservations. I've readjusted the menu, asked a couple of important questions and managed to learn what Pistachio Green was. Once everything was settled on paper, I signed, paid the downpayment and went to Sinangag Express to buy lunch for my siblings. (Oh, I also skipped to the Cafe beside it to get a Polly's chocolate cake selling for 70 bucks per slice, ridiculous).

AT home, I found Harvey hanging out in the Kitchen waiting for falling graces from my Aunt's cooking. But I was just the Evil Witch enforcing everyone to be strict about spoiling Harvey. But if Banana is concerned, I let him eat all the Banana he wants. But he likes Apple better.

After eating, I slept like a baby for a few hours and had a weird dream. I dreamt that my looming party was infested of all people I never wanted to invite in the first place. Chemically contrasting acquaintances from Grade School to College. I saw myself in the corner, chained like a madwoman watching my own party in a hideous Orange Themed motiff going on without me. I know there was an Imposter, because all guests dressed in bird's nest creations (that are apparently avant garde at that time), are giving their pleasantries and lavish gifts at the opposite corner. The box of golden wrapped gift was obstructing my view and then my BROTHER woke me up.

It just only says one thing, that I am unconsciously trying to sift through records of my past life trying to figure out how my 25 years of life turned out. What did I accomplish? What are things yet to accomplish? What are my particular failures and what strengths I was able to enhance? What kind of people I've surrounded myself with? It is a scary thing, this quarter life celebration. People expect you to be a lot of things already and I'm not the one to know. I'm still trying to figure things out, like the invitations and guest list.

Organizing for a party is one of the hardest things in the world especially if you're queasy with social celebrations. It doesn't help if you also want something gregarious, like I do. But that's the point. It's a milestone celebration. I just believe I have experienced things that are expected to be experienced at my age, not to the extremes, though, but pretty much a taste of whatever extremes that I might be experiencing after 25. This celebration is the end the beginning of a new adult life. Whoever said 18 is a milestone? Wait till you reach 25 when your senses and capabilities become more pronounced, it's haunting. Plus, the fact that you get to pay for your own party, just the way you like it, is simply liberating. One of the effects of the painful yet rewarding experience of turning 25.

*Pix Source: http://i.ehow.com/images/GlobalPhoto/Articles/2152645/pathe-Jazz-party-600-main_Full.jpg

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My "Squattered" Books

My old room was like a floating library. Since I've already maximized two big shelves in the house, I had no choice but to keep my books stacked on my desk, on my sister's desk, under the computer table, on the floor, on my sister's make-up drawer or whatever suitable place I could find. In every corner, container, cabinet and shoe racks in my room I have my delegates in the form of books. If my room was a battlefield and my books were hidden bombs, I wouldn't bet anyone going out of my room alive.

So, one afternoon, I decided to get all my books that were not neatly placed in shelves. My other books that are on shelves are still neatly stacked, which I wouldn't touch for now. My targets were my exposed 'squatter' books. Going through the process, I snatched, wiped, and carried a few as I neatly stacked them in the living room for a quick inventory. The books that I've forgotten that I still have made themselves known to me again! Joy! But I cringed when I saw how my Record Book's seriously outdated.

After pulling out one of my last squatter books, A History of World Societies, I was surprised at the stacks I've managed to form. I know I have lots of books. It's still evident in a couple of shelves that are still untouched in the old house, but I didn't figure out that the books scattered in twos and threes in my room would PILE TO THESE. Amazing.


**Presenting, the ex-Squatter books in my room, 10% of my collection (I guess..)

**My Old School VECO Record Book of Books?? I had this ever since High school. I've maintained this after college, but I firmly believe this is wayyyy OUTDATED. It's time to get you on a database.


Welcome home, babies, you are soon to be residents of the waiting SHELVES in the new "country." Never again to be seen as Squatters.

Separation still indefinite

I did what I needed to do for this much anticipated weekend. I brought Harvey to his vet, took care of paying his shots (which are ridiculous), got a contract from a Catering Services company and managed to post a blog when I'm close to fainting because I haven't had any decent meal yet. I'm instantly craving of having a pizza delivered. To which house? I have no idea.

I'm here at the old house across the street doing my online work since my mom is still fixing the Internet Cable at the new house. Whenever my sister, my brother or I have to do something online, we have to hop a couple of steps and we're back at our old house again, although the feeling is not quite the same anymore. Actually it's haunting.

Right now, I feel the house is hallow. A couple of days ago it didn't look as dirty or in such a massive disarray even though my family started to move across the new house weeks ago. Now the old house looks hollow and sad. Empty boxes that are waiting to be filled are at the Old sala still untouched. My books that were scattered all over my room are also stacked in the wooden seat in the sala. If we were still living here, my mom would have gone ballistic, but now she couldn't care less.

It's funny but when we are still living here a couple of weeks ago, the house looked pristine, well-kept and cozy. Now the chips of paint are starting to show, it's filthy and it's not homey anymore. The effects of abandonment are showing. It's like the maker has totally abandoned it in the black hole wishing it to survive on its own, when it's infact self-deteriorating.

Although the phone line is still working. There is still water running through the faucets. There's still electricity, but the life is totally wiped out. It's not a home anymore. It's a structure that was once considered a house. I couldn't sometimes bear to look at it whenever I go to my new home. It's so sad and heartbreaking.

We're trying to separate ourselves from the house as slowly as possible. We still have stuff remaining at the old house until we figure out (if there is) its perfect place in the new one. I remember my friend Bags who transferred last August to her new apartment in Sun Valley. The unpacking and the transferring of her massive stuff had to be done only in one day. It's a "hook or by crook" kind of thing. Everyone had to move and transfer all their stuff in the new garage even though they haven't thought of a place to put it yet. But successfully, they did it all in less than 24 hours. It was damn tiring, but an amazing feat for them to accomplish yet here we are still ricocheting back and forth for things missed. No hurries. If we get tired, we could stop and reserve the transfer for tomorrow. I'm betting my family that we wouldn't be able to fully settle in till next year. Expect that at the end of 2008, we'll still be living in technically two homes. Even though the separation process started, the end is indefinite. It hurts, but I'm not complaining. I could have the pizza delivered here and eat it too, but without plates or kubyertos that is.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Drooling for the Weekend

I’m craving for the weekend…no...drooling for it. I’m so salivating for something unedible that I want to fast forward this day and skip my dinner later, only if I had not paid 500 bucks! 500 bucks is still 500 bucks, and I don't throw it away just like that. This means I really have to go to the dinner and maximize.

Breathe in. Breath out. I can still take one more blow.

This week has been fast paced yet so long that I’ve been eating food outside and eventually staying up late. Sounds fun? Not really. I’ve been recently ricocheting from dinner outs to midnight conference calls within the metro, not because I want to, but because it’s been randomly scheduled either by my friends or by my company. It goes to the point that my ATM is slashed of over spending when I have a looming veterinary visit this weekend for Harvey, and my stomach bloated from too much carbolicious dishes and desserts. GASTOS with a capital G. OVEREATING with a capital O and it’s not even December!

That’s it. I’ve had it.

Weekend is my savior. I’m craving for it to catch up on my sleep and home cooked meals. This weekend, I’m going to bury my wallet for the meantime and just cocoon myself in my room watching DVDS and reading. This weekend, I would be able to settle my reservations for my looming birthday in December swiftly and succinctly so I could return home immediately.

Priority is HOME.

For this weekend, I don’t want to see nor go to the malls.

I don’t want to see the sunshine.

I don’t want to go anywhere else that involves gas, toll and food money.

I don’t want to eat at restaurants and go to coffee shops.

I don’t want to dress up and plan for anything because I already have one ultimate plan and that is....

TO STAY AT HOME. TO REST MY WALLET. TO REST MY EYES AND FEET.

I’m not an extrovert, damn it. I’m not made for spontaneous, unhealthy and expensive gallivanting for a week straight.

It’s too much.

I CAN'T WAIT for tomorrow and DO MY OWN VERSION OF WHAT BEARS BRILLIANTLY DO....HIBERNATE!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Powerfully Stupid Moments

For the past couple of days my sleeping hours are limited to 3-4 hours. I go home late but I go to work way earlier than expected that I've forgotten what it's like to be stuck in a traffic Jam in my favorite South Expressway. Although commendable, what I’m doing is not advisable since I already have flexible time at work. But apparently my body clock finds ways to tick me off and I can’t help but feel more frustrated if I don’t wake up in the morning and do anything even if I just stare at something. Pathetic need will eventually kill me. What’s surprising is that I’m not a morning person, but now I've increased my meals within the day by adding breakfast. Even though I do wake up early, only a slim opening of sense can be derived from me. This is all too familiar.

I also know my body has grown tired from a couple of days of waking up so early and staying up late in the toxic environment of the office for conference calls across the globe. My eyes have lost its luster into the digital screens in front of me. My tummy and metabolism are already screwed from sitting after heavy meals devoid of any strenuous activities except for typing and thinking. Not to mention, I spend at around 500 bucks a day for meals subdivided into breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner considering I love food and see it as my instant fuel and stress buster. Naturally, I still uphold my standards amidst the personal financial crisis. Doing my financial budgeting there is a need to reconsider my menu. Oh, I almost forgot, I also do get coffee across the street every now and then for comfort. This is all too familiar.

This is scary. I've witnessed this feeling before. It's been roughly two years since I've entered into this blissful, stressful, fast paced world. I thought with the most recent careers and sudden life changing turns I've made, I wouldn't be able to experience this again. Now my body's starting to change and welcome it back. Stress, is that you? Just like any trending report, I'm following this particular pattern that led me to the toxic professional life I've adapated two years ago. At this point, I should already know what to do and how to manage this craving for stress. But I think I missed it too much that I'm giving it another shot.

As horrible and toxic my life has recently turned out, I’ve accepted that I’ve transformed into a walking zombie endangered to lose her mind, her health and her money. In times like these, I just need to detox, develop and recharge, things that I failed to do before. It’s not the productive stress that’s killing me. It’s the unnecessary stress and all other things that I have or expected to have learned how to manage. I should know now.

I figured from past experiences that I love doing things that eventually kill me. Late nights. Splurging in good food to compensate. Subtly put relationship ties on the back seat and focus on the target. All in all, I try to be ignorant to my own weaknesses. There are activities that I believe I shouldn’t have done that I eventually did thinking it was what I really needed just because the feeling and challenge were enticing. There were processes and solutions that should have been done the easier way, but the pride in me, picked the more challenging routes. Innovative, fast forward but more challenging routes, and I don't delegate. There are a couple of career moves I passed up due to blandness and, as stupid as it may sound, because of bad office interiors. People have noticed that there are things, clutters, junk that I buy just because I would find them usable one day. Sometimes those days never come. Even some of my books have remained UNREAD and piled up in a dusty tower, but I never stop buying. I buy dresses, which I immensely like. It fits a particular occasion, but it would take a century for me wear it. Sayang. Some dresses are now a size too tight for me. Sadly, those clothes are now in the moth-ball hotel. How unnecessary and wasteful is that? There are so many clutter, unnecessary spending and unnecessary stress combined. It has been plaguing me ever since, but I just feel a little bit powerful and challenged just because I know I can still do it, until I break that is.

It’s sad but a lot of these things are fueled to the fact that I don’t want to feel deprived nor restricted in doing anything I want to do. Others think me as strong willed, but most of the times I'm just hard headed. I still think and assess things, but it's hard to manipulate my own mind. I find it too draining than just doing the harder things. As long as it serves my purpose, I want it and have the ability to get it, then there's no reason for me not to pursue it. Although I feel powerful for the immense effort and success, with some of the unnecessary effects it brings, at the end of the day I just can’t help but feel kind of stupid.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Starbucks day on "THE" Starbucks Season

I bought my breakfast at Starbucks this morning. I just miss my usual Bagel with cream cheese so off I went. My hair still in disarray and practically dripping, I got there and pretty much ZOMBIED out my order. The cashier then asked me what I’ll be having for coffee. Thinking I just had coffee at Seattles last night and since Mitch and I position ourselves to be more frugal, I declined and told her I’ll just have the Bagel. Although privately I’m craving for a White Chocolate Mocha! Darn! Calm down, you glutton! And anyways I could always get a decent coffee at the office for free. Hmph.

So I waited patiently while fixing my stare at those sumptuous desserts when the cashier told me to get my drink later as soon as I have answered their internet survey question. I said, “Can you repeat that again please?” Well, apparently I won something this morning at Starbucks.

I honestly thought they’ve stopped giving freebies like these and it was just a one season thing. Well good thing it’s not because I just won! Yahoo. One free tall drink coming up! (Selfish mode)

I’ve also noticed that it’s kind of CRAZY in Starbucks eversince they’ve started their usual CHRISTMAS Promo to avail the 2009 STARBUCKS' PLANNER. I swear, there is something about those planners that make people buy STARBUCKS drinks by a dozen or so. Those creative, bounded planners have become one of the Philippine’s most sought after Christmas promos. My sister collects it. My officemates have started to collect it. The world started collecting it; and I’m just there enjoying my coffee. I would’ve given my receipts to my sister or friends for them to exchange for stickers, but there’s a new rule now that stickers are given ON THE SPOT SALE basis, meaning you have to exchange your receipt for a STICKER as you buy your SELECTED DRINK (9 Christmas Edition Drinks and 9 Usual Starbucks' drinks). This will prevent receipt hoarding.

Now I remember this girl behind me last week when I recently bought my White Mocha Venti. The cashier asked me for my promo card so she could put some stickers on it. I said I don’t have any card. She offered me one and I said, “No thank you, not interested." Honestly at that time, I thought I'd just give it to my sister. The cashier asked me again if I was so sure. I could feel the girl behind me breathing down my neck. I said “Yes, I’m pretty sure.” The cashier stamped my receipt and I felt the girl looked at me with disbelief. I wondered what was up. It was later on that I was INFORMED that to avail of the stickers it should be exchanged at the time of the purchase. Well, I could’ve just willingly given it to the girl behind me then. Sorry about that, I'm just an ignoramus in the Starbucks Planner Mechanics.

So there you go, I’m sure Starbucks will pick up a mammoth of sales this season. No doubt. Taking advantage of the fact that Filipinos love writing in planners and we’re still considered a scrapbook kind of nation. Also noting that the planners are from Starbucks makes a certain status signature, perhaps. "He's a Starbucks' drinker oh!"

Also, I remember Seattles Best or was it Coffee Bean that also launched a Planner promo last year. I think it wasn’t as successful as Starbucks. I’m not sure if they’ll be doing it again, but admittedly Starbucks has better packaging and features as far I could remember.

I wouldn’t be really that interested anyways. I’m just a coffee person, plain and simple. Apparently, planners do not really interest me.


**Meanwhile, more on Starbucks Global news:

http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/djf500/200811101701DOWJONESDJONLINE000668_FORTUNE5.htm

“Starbucks said U.S. comparable-store sales fell 8%, marking the fourth straight quarter of sales declines at the company. Traffic and average transaction totals both fell.
International revenue improved 13%, outpacing U.S. revenue, which was up 1%.
Using fiscal 2008's comparable-store sales drop of 3%, the company lowered its fiscal 2009 per-share earnings target to 71 cents, down from its April view of per-share earnings of 90 cents to $1. Analysts were looking for earnings of 87 cents a share. But depending on how same-store sales end up, the company gave earnings targets ranging from 59 cents to 90 cents.
Starbucks also expects its international store count to rise by about 700 this fiscal year, not the 900 previously anticipated.
The company has found itself saddled with rising costs, declining revenue and has faced increased competition from Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's Corp. (MCD) and local competitors. Last quarter, the company posted it's first quarterly loss six months after starting a turnaround effort.”

Just Thankful Still

Now I can say Hallelujah!

I’m slowly coming back to my own self. Yesterday I devoted my whole morning to consulting with professionals to end my weekend long misery. It already formed as a must with a point of no return. I knew yesterday that nothing could compare to whatever professional information they would throw back at me against my own GOOGLE-Analysis.

I would admit that as usual I expected the worst. I had a couple of worst case scenarios plaguing my head for the past few days that even a sumptuous meal cannot appease. It has affected my writing, how I viewed things and how I related with people. Being my own doctor, as mentioned in my previous posts, really is my sickness. Even though I know at the end I would consult professional help, I still can't help researching on my own and form extreme interpretations in my head. Good thing I put an end to it yesterday morning and deflated the immense pressure.

It was really tough going through the ritual of finding the truth. It’s probably one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life like how I loathed for my Chemistry Grade to come up. I came to a point where I've bargained with God already. Apparently he is too good to me and if he were alive he would’ve scolded me to pieces. I’m not exactly the obedient type and if things didn’t turn out right, I would’ve deserved it anyways. But he is amazing and gave me a chance.

Although grateful and very pleased, it wasn’t a clear break. I found out that indeed I do have health issues to deal with that isn’t common for women. It’s not fatal or anything, but a major inconvenience and a reason for future reproductive complications. It might be affecting me slightly in various aspects in my life right now, but I’ve nothing to complain. It’s still pretty much bearable. I wouldn’t even know it had I not engaged in medical tests yesterday. I am still so thankful though.

So, this post is all about giving thanks to God for giving me a chance to redeem myself and build a healthier life. It is also a lesson for me not to transform into my own DOCTOR, because it’s only aggravating things. I would have to work harder for that. I also dedicate this post to professionals who do their jobs really well. There is a good reason why they’re made for stuff like these. I trust and respect them completely. Lastly, this is for those people who have put up with me for the past few days. Some may not know that I’ve been a depressed monster, but they gave me immense joy and distraction. To those few people and a pet (Harvey) who served as my listeners and comforters, they’ve all been really positive and supportive. I cannot thank everyone enough.

This post might be so LUDICROUS with a capital L. It’s like a thank you speech of my life, but last week was my own version of hell for me. Hell for waiting. Hell for the swimming in negative thoughts. Hell for the immense possibilities that I know I couldn’t be able to face right now.

Anyone would have understood. And I’m sure they would also give thanks if fortunate enough.

Monday, November 10, 2008

He is not a CHIHUAHUA

I’m taking care of a Jack Russell Terrier nowadays. Yes, I’m a proud owner of the cute, ever-smart and active dog named Harvey. I could never stop blogging about him now could I? Well, most information you read about JRTS are pretty much accurate. They’re very active to the point of being restless. They’re not the type to sit around and observe. Even if they do observe, they are very focused and I especially love it when they do their “hunter stance,” well at least that’s what I call it. (Body leaning forward and right leg curved on air)

They love earth, grass or any expanded space to run around. They like sniffing, investigating and digging dirt. Even as pups, they will pull out whatever grass they could find with gusto. Now I understand that one has to immensely train JRTS to live in confined spaces. Imagine if there are no grasses to pull. I just hope my mom doesn’t figure out the patches on our backyard.

JRTS are also fast runners. Since they’re known to be hunting and working dogs that ideally chase hares and force cretins off the ground, it’s no wonder that these dogs love to run and play the chasing game. I consider him now as my exercise pet.

JRTS are balls of mischievous fun…unfortunately sometimes. They are perfect representations of naturally “PASAWAY” dogs. They don’t easily follow orders. It takes a lot of reward, routine and training to make them do a single trick or let them follow what needs to be followed. On a personal note, as long as you have rewards, it’s far easier to train them to do a trick than to forbid them from doing something harmful that they really want to do. There’s no problem in training per se. They are extremely smart and they can follow commands and tricks easily, but since they’re restless and if you’re not fast enough they would devote their attention to something else.

Just an example, last night, Mitch and I were playing with him at our open yard when he would always go to the other side where bottles of beer and wasted knickknacks were put aside. When we found out, I repeatedly tried to scold him by picking him up, spanking him and making him realize that it’s not healthy for him to go there. But he continuously finds his way to escape from my sight and I would always find him at the forbidden spot. Mitch intervened and scolded him. We even acted as if we’re abandoning him in his cage, which he hates. Eventually we would come back and set him free knowing he understood the instructions. At first he was listening to our warning signs. He’s very smart, but when we weren't looking he managed to sneak away. He is that mischievous. He knows he’s smart and observant, but he uses it to his advantage.

JRTS are also less maintenance. Since they are considered to be medium-sized with manageable smooth-coated hair, they don’t need extra hygiene pampering like what’s normally done with Shih-Tzus or even Golden Retrievers. They are not very attractive to diseases and they’re not so aggressive eaters like large breeds. They’re sporty, masculine and very independent dogs.

Lastly, what I love about JRTS is that they’re one of the smartest dogs I know and I have a proof of it. Harvey, after training him one night, instantly got a quick instruction to sit and lie down. He does it in such a calculated move that makes him look like a perfectionist. He never loses eye contact with you as he does the trick instantly waiting for my approval or reward. He never forgets. But his smartness sometimes works against us because he can open his cage by constant observation and trials. He tries one simple feat and courageous enough to conquer the next big thing. They’re not afraid to challenge themselves, learn new things and absorb it. If not for anything, I’m proud of Harvey for his intelligence and loyalty.

Against most beliefs though, JRTS are also extremely charming, but not in a sheepish kind of way. They would melt your heart with their antics and their clueless-I’m-sorry-I-didn’t-mean-to-stares because expect them to always get themselves into trouble or eventually destroy something. So do not hyperventilate or whack them when you become witness to these charms and stares. Or else, it would get the better of you and they’re mischievous enough to repeat it again.

Frankly, I don’t know why I’m so keen to taking JRTS. It’s not the usual primary dog people associate me with. Others envision me to take on a calculated guard dog, a breed that is known to obey commands and are not that hyperactive. Others see me taking on a lazy dog like French Bulldogs or something. But JRTS, add it up on my list of other preferred hunting dogs like Beagles, I think I’ve also surprised myself.

Probably I’m attracted to their smartness and rarity. Few people breed JRTS because they do not look exceptionally appealing. That’s a plus for me, seriously. I’m not for the looks anyways. I’m for the smarts and purpose; and by far Harvey hasn’t failed me.

He has gotten to a point that affects me so much. Whenever I go to work and tuck him to sleep my heart aches. As cliché as it may sound, I’m continuously learning more about him and more about myself. He’s a great partner and I wouldn’t dream of any other type of dog or any dog for that matter.

Oh, and one other thing. HE IS NOT A FREAKING CHIHUAHUA. I’ve had a couple of by passers saying: “How cute naman the CHIHUAHUA!” PUHLEEZE, there are no white Chihuahuas as far as I’m concerned and can you please look at the genetic makeup and the contours of Harvey’s body? Even as pups their leg muscles are well formed and developed, unless you’re blind and unobservant. They’re not CHIHUAHUAS!

“HOW CUTE naman your CHIHUAHUA”
“No. He’s not a CHIHUAHUA. He’s a JRT.”
“JRT? What’s that?!”
“It’s a Jack Russell Terrier. Move along Harvey, nothing humanly interesting to see here.”