Monday, November 30, 2009

Defending Scrooge before Dec. 1st

I know a Scrooge thrives in me. I don't deny it. I even acknowledge the possibility that we are somehow related, personality wise. I know there are people out there who idolize and understand Scrooge. I'm sure most people beg to disagree. All they see is the evil side, the extreme version of heartlessness and cold. He might have gone astray and extreme, but he too has his truthful side.

In the field of managing finances, ethics and simple practicalities, he is an idol. In fact, this is the area where I need him the most. I willingly want Scrooge to thrive in me especially in matters of finances and hard work. I have to revive my financial health and brush up on my professional ambitions and career. I have to be more practical and surrender to the realities of life just like he did. It's also time to see what I ought to see and not find myself stuck in an idealistic midair. I need to balance my idealistic views and risk of being mediocre. I have to strive like he did. Save like there's no tomorrow and be strict with my principles and views.

What people find evil about him is how he took his positive sides to the extreme. His personality kills another. He puts out the light of optimism and cheer and spins it in his vortex of misery and solitude. He defies behavior of extreme happiness and kills it. He values practicality and reality more than optimistic charity. A man of action and solution, he never gives time to interact and daydream. For a moment, living the same world as he is living in, I would understand the reason of his existence. Although not entirely consumed by the jaded world...yet, I do understand his views on things, which makes my Scrooge mentality thrive in the first place.

Looking at my calendar and defending Scrooge, I just realized that it will be December 1st in a couple of hours or so. Amazing. The days will trickle fast from now on. May you be spared by the Christmas humbug and may you check and tame your inner Scrooges.

I can't wait to start 2010.

A Christmas Carole 2009: All about Scrooge

I encouraged Mitch and my sister to accompany me to watch a movie last night. There's this nagging feeling since the last movie I watched (alone) was Jennifer's Body and it wasn't a pleasant experience. Another reason is that I missed watching with Mitch. A couple of months back, I had no problem organizing movie dates. Between the two of us, I am the movie-hogger. Before Mitch met me, he never cared to watch movies in the big screen if he had his way. Being a computer junkie, he would opt to just download it and save effort and money. But when I met him, I was happy enough to change his perception about watching movies in theaters that even his friends were surprised. We watched movies regularly and he started to appreciate the experience until I made an honest mistake of making him watch a movie that I thought he was OPEN enough to appreciate. One word. MILK. That movie changed it all for us.

Now I have to explain and thoroughly screen the movies that I want to watch with him. He is extremely cautious this time that he always says no, so I would end up watching alone or with a friend. That is fine, but there are moments that I want to watch a movie and I happen to be with him. It's an ongoing struggle and retribution on my part.

That's why when I said that I badly want to watch a movie this long weekend, since he was days away from shooting, he obliged. Since New Moon is obviously out, I told him that we could watch A Christmas Carol starred by Jim Carrey. I was waiting for the NO word, but immediately he agreed. I didn't look back. I reviewed the screening times, invited my sister and the next thing we knew was that we were on our way to Greenbelt at 9:30 catching the 9:55 show. Thanks to my sister, she spoiled the small fact that the movie was animated and then he threw me a sharp, frustrated look and groaned. There goes a happy spirit.

A Christmas Carol is animated, but I wasn't aware that it was 3D. We had to pay 300 bucks each and I was a bit nervous because both of us weren't wearing any contacts and we have the poorest vision. Wearing the 3D shades and watching in full screen is, I'm afraid, something one has to get used to. It takes a couple of minutes to adjust and if you're not a fan of Magic Eye, watching this might prove difficult. I am not sure if the location of our seats factored in, but at first I was dizzy. I couldn't possibly appreciate the action sequences and it was totally impossible for me to appreciate the fine texture of the animation because I was technically blind. So, I wore my glasses and semi put the 3D shades for better viewing. Mitch was fidgeting and trying to readjust his shades as he was also having a hard time watching.

I've watched different animated versions of Christmas Carol before. Heck, I even watched the Mickey Mouse adaptation. I've also watched the 2001 animated version starring Kate Winslet and other low budget adaptations on cable. I've accepted the trend that A Christmas Carol is a staple play, movie or animation shown during Christmas season, just like how we do not tire of watching Cecil B. Demille's The Ten Commandments during Holy week. THe only difference is that A Christmas Carol has already made gigantic leaps in various adaptations while The Ten Commandments has yet to be remade this 21st century. (Please do!)

Strangely put, even as a kid I was more interested about Scrooge. It might be strange that I understood him and I began to realize that men are capable of reaching his certain mentality. In all my years that I've watched versions of A Christmas Carol, I never condemned Scrooge. I was more interested in him than any other characters there and I was amazed how cold and heartless he had become. The life he lead may be solitary and difficult, but he has strong principles tucked in his grouchiness. Lastly, Scrooge always makes me laugh.

This newest movie is coined as the most modern animation offering in the history of all Christmas Carol movies. And indeed it was. The animation was pristine. There were moments wherein I couldn't tell if they were real or not. The movements were fluid and natural. There was a scene there that a group of people were dancing; and for a minute I didn't know if they were animated. The creases on a person's face, the facial expressions, the fibers, the colors and shadowing imitated life itself. It was a definite achievement in the field of multimedia and animation.

I wouldn't grapple much on the story since we all know that it's concentrated on the rich, grouchy and unreasonably thrifty Ebenezar Scrooge who is visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley and three christmas ghosts that would attempt to show and change his ways. The Spirit of Christmas Past brings Ebenezar back to his childhood days and the days when he was still warm and capable of falling in love. The Ghost of Christmas Present brings Ebenezar to the current Christmas, which introduces us to his only middle-class nephew whom he has alienated and the family of his poor, but fatherly co-worker Bob Cratchit. The Ghost of Christmas Future, the scariest one, brings the christmas that is yet to come, which serves as the push for Ebenezar to realize his wrong ways.

The movie stuck to the real story. There was no experimentation there. The interpretation, brought by the modern magic of animation, was more creative and flexible. Although it is animated and finely done, I still doubt if it would appeal to many.

Unlike the safe and usual Christmas Carol animations and movies, this version is eerie. The whole atmosphere in the movie is dark, gray and gothic, which is true to the sense that it mirrors the age of industrialization. It may be animated, but the scenes are for mature imagination and viewing. There were no slapstick and comical moments here. It imitated and brought back the live Ebenezar Scrooge from form to language. Honestly I was worried in the middle of the film that some kids might be wailing their eyes out because the movie was veering towards the scare and fright category. From sound effects to the distorted faces of spirits and heart-pounding chasing scenes, it tickled my horror senses and I knew that it's not a movie that would be universally appreciated by kids. I knew that if I heard a kid cry, that would be the end of it. But I had to condone that there were just some kids asking their parents out loud. I'd have to live with it as long as there was no wailing in the theater.

The movie poses difficulty even for adults to the point that it is too "English." Sometimes the conversations were hard to understand and catch. Even I sometimes had to put an extra effort in deciphering jargons and accents. It was so authentic that one would think of it as a reenactment of Scrooge's life save for the animated aspect of course.

Starred by Jim Carrey and other worthy actors like Bob Hoskins and my favorite Gary Oldman, I expected that it would be little light and funny, but it turned out that it was eerie, authentic and very mature. Some of my friends slept through it. If you're not a fan of animation, 3D and the story itself, the 1 1/2 movie could be easily dragging. The point is, it's not everybody's A Christmas Carol version.

Except for the challeging dialogues and watching it in 3D, I liked how it was interpreted. Animation hid actors and manipulated the look of characters to a tee. The advanced animation enhanced the story more than anything. Since most of us know what the story is about, animation presented to us interpretations never seen and done before. I also liked the eerie brand to it, the dark and gloomy setting with all the chase scenes and confrontations. It deserves a mature audience as it has the capability to scare a faint-hearted adult.

I won't recommend this to people who have problems with their vision unless they are wearing contacts or are used to watching 3D. I'd discourage them from paying a steep price for a ticket for a 1 1/2 hours movie if they won't get to appreciate the authenticity of the animation; and instead have a tendency to develop headaches. The movie is generally darker in hues and atmosphere so visual adjustment and consideration is required.

This is also not your usual family movie especially if you have to bring kids who are not capable enough to adjust their level of imagination. This movie could easily scare them. It has little room for Jim Carreys' brand of humor and jokes. And although not dramatic, it's still eerie and mature.

For those who want to examine the fine multimedia and animation, this is the movie for you. Those who have strong hearts to know the most creative, surprisingly eerie and imaginative version of the story, this would prove worth it. But honestly, if you're just looking for a movie to pass the time, this might easily loose your attention and it's best to just watch New Moon for eye candy especially if you're not into animation.

It was an experience for me, but it's just a movie that I took in as is. I wasn't talkative and excited after I stepped out of the theater. If I was really hyped up, usually I'd indulge people in conversation and highly recommend it to friends through texting. But I was neutral. I appreciated the eerie aspect to it, but there were aspects that made it difficult for me to get hyped up. I knew the people who watched it with me weren't united in this one. Minus the 3D aspect, I'm sure Mitch and his type thought that they should've watched it in cable. IF you're not into animations, it may be a waste of time. But real life adaptations or not, animations may change and interpretations may vary, but there is only one thing that remains true to the core. Ebenezar Scrooge.

If you're a fan of Scrooge, this movie won't hurt given the considerations I've mentioned.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thoughts on Gifts

What if I don't give gifts this Christmas? Would that shock my family? Would that obviously project how poor I have become? Would they get angry and outcast me? Would I violate the sanctity of gift giving and generosity that are somehow required during Christmas? These are just some thoughts that plague my head right now because I'm feeling the annual challenge of gift giving creeping in and I don't like it.

Christmas seems a strong wake-up call for us to visit the malls and buy gifts. It's an expected season for us to spend for items and wrap them in specially designed papers and ribbons to let the chosen recipients know how much we value them. Gifts are supposed tell them our care and appreciation more than words could ever describe. Biting the commercial apple of shopping, endless contemplating and giftwrapping still rank supreme.

But giving gifts is not always as easy and effective as we think. For me it's hard and a grueling task to give someone something that we think they need or want. In my case, I always go for the need and usually these are the things that they don't expect to receive. It's also hard to think of separate things to give to friends and family because it involves research and observation. Not to mention, effort of packing and wasteful presentation. For a person like me, I don't give gifts at random. Window shopping on the spot and taking the first packaged item that I see has never been my style. There's a strict preparation to it. I believe if I would spend for something might as well spend for something that they would use and appreciate.

But I have to accept the fact that humans are fickle and complex creatures. No matter how one researches on someone's interests, time could quickly change it. The desires and needs of humans are complex that sometimes only the self could understand. For example, I've gotten used to giving gifts to my father and mother on Christmas. I buy things that I believe they need, but it always ends up being shelved. They appreciate the effort, but that doesn't mean they would use it. Of all the useful gifts I gave my father, I never once saw him use it. It came to the point of me giving up already. One Christmas, I sincerely thought of giving him one sack of watermelon seeds, his addiction. With that I'm sure he's going to eat it, but where's the thrill and comfort in that?

Giving gifts, aside from its difficulty which involves time, effort and money, can never be too effective and practical sometimes. That's why I thought of possible ways to save me from unnecessary effort and wastefulness especially this Christmas season.

1. Gift Cheques

Hallelujah for Gift Cheques. These are more sophisticated and acceptable versions of giving money, which is often seen as a tacky alternative. Aside from the fact that Gift Cheques are easy to purchase, it saves time and a sudden growth of a brain tumor. Most especially, it also empowers the recipient to get what he or she really needs/wants. Gift cheques have more value than receiving actual gifts that the recipient won't use. Since it's always a boo-boo to give money, these are recommended alternatives.

2. Food

This is proven to be very effective in giving to acquaintances, groups or colleagues in the office. I don't have to bend my back in giving individualized gifts to 30 people, assuming they all matter to me. If they belong in one area or group, food is always the most economical and most effective. Buyng a box of brownies or cookies is quite cheaper; and it spares us from the added hassle of shopping. It is also a safe gift that definitely hits the senses as opposed to giving gifts that some recipients don't need. There are many choices and varieties of food to choose from and some can be bought online. Food is also in line with the whole Christmas cheer. One could never get wrong by giving this.

3. Pre-paid stuff

Pre-paid Travel tickets and movie tickets are something innovative these days. Like gift cheques, I believe this would be more appreciated than getting them something that we're not sure of. Prepaid travel tickets, massages or paid restaurant coupons are rare, but very thoughtful. It also empowers the recipients to plan and use it with whomever and whenever they wish. There's more room for flexibility and creativity with these.

4. Charity

Assuming that the person already has everything in the world and it's a torture to think of something to give them, it's best not to give at all. Instead, a more heartfelt way of showing value to them is by donating to charity and putting it under their names. It's thoughtful, very appreciated and the most effective way to emulate generosity in Christmas.

There is really nothing wrong with going out of our way to give gifts to make the person happy and in return make ourselves, the givers, happy. We would always love the traditional feeling of opening and wrapping presents. But gifts, like the rest that we have to purchase, involve money, research, time and effort. As hard and challenging as it seems, it doesn't have to be that difficult and disastrous. In this day and age, there are now creative ways to share and give gifts this Christmas. It may not be traditional, but it beats being wasteful and ineffective. The statement: "It's the thought that counts" is very true. So give your gifts much thought. Giving something of definite use and value is more than generosity, it's being effectively thoughtful at the same time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Close to a Food Critic: Sentro, Fort Taguig

One of my dreams is to have a flourishing career related to food. I could be working as a food scientist, dressed in a lab gown working in a fully-equipped kitchen. I'd be the one inventing mixes on making the next perfect potato chip or cookie for a leading food company. I'd be testing 101 flavors of ice cream. I'd be the one inventing variations of a microwave dish and propose it to the executive board. Or I could put up my own restaurant down from conceptualization to operation and expand it into a business empire. There are various foodie careers, but personally, nothing beats being a food critic, to be the know how on food through literature.

The setup would be, there I am checking my schedule and the next thing I know is that I'm restaurant hopping as a form of work. But before going to restaurants, I'd do my research research of course. I'd read press releases on line and play with google. When I get to restaurant, I observe, I order, I evaluate and I enjoy. After the meal, I'd get my laptop, write and happily crunch deadlines. Who says that by creating literature from enjoying food isn't fun and productive?

If anyone would hire me I would confess that I only rely on three strong points. First, I love to write. Second, I love research and analysis. Lastly, I love food and the dining experience. I'm not the type of person who's mentally conscious about the added pounds that come with being exposed and required to eat food. Discipline and a quick trip to the gym should do the trick.

With training and in depth knowledge about culinary arts I could easily be like that. But right now I'm just happy going restaurant hopping on my own, paying for my own meals and sharing my experiences with people to help them achieve their desired dining experience. Eating out and sharing it through my blog is the next best thing.

So that's what I'm going to do, only now, I'm going to share the closest thing that I've ever come to becoming a real food critic.

The opportunity ironically came from my sister. She has a colleague who works for a company that manages several chic restaurants in the metro. Her colleague is in marketing and one of her assignments was to invite limited number of people under specific age brackets and professional backgrounds to try out the newly improved menu of Sentro, a chic Filipino restaurant.

The only Sentro that I knew then was in Greenbelt 2, which garnered a lot of following. I've eaten there a couple of times, with high school friends and relatives from Cebu. Frankly, I'm not an entire fan of Filipino food, but I like Sentro's dishes and attempt of making Filipino food more inventive. The classic dishes Sentro's known for are their Crispy Tadyang and Corned Beef Sinigang.

But when my sister asked me and Mitch if we would accept the invitation, we didn't think twice. We scheduled to eat at Sentro Serendra at the Fort to make the dining experience relatively new. So last Saturday, November 21'st, my sister and I drove to Fort Taguig, which at that time was crowded due to the pyrotechnics show. While waiting for Mitch to arrive, we settled in and began to order.

Since, it will be the first time that I was invited to critique dishes for free, I wanted to lay down the rules first. Apparently, there were none. My sister said we could order any dish that's on the menu from appetizers to desserts. There was no limit. We would only have to pay for the drinks.

Still amazed, I flipped through the feedback booklet and learned how I would thoroughly evaluate the food. Sentro wanted to get feedbacks about the dish's presentation, taste, serving, aroma and price. Additional comments regarding service and interior were highly encouraged.

My sister ordered Kesong Puti Balls and I ordered the Smoked Fish Spring Roll for appetizers. We like the Kesong Puti Balls. The cheese used is authentic and chewy. The guava and garlic-mayo dips could cater to extreme taste preferences. It's also presented in bite-size which is a plus factor. No longer do we have to slice huge sticks to share.

But what blew us away was the Smoked Fish Spring Rolls with vinegar-garlic sauce. You could smell the flavorful fish just by looking at it. It's cleanly tucked by a thin lumpia-ish wrapper together with salted egg and fresh garnishes. What I loved about this was the flavor of the fish and its freshness. The presentation was also unique and the vinegar sauce just sealed the deal. When Mitch arrived and ate this, he was all praise.

My sister also ordered squash soup. I never liked squash so I took her word for it that it was all creamy-goodness, not as good as Cibo's, but definitely worth a try.

Onto the main course, we ordered four dishes for three ravenous people. We tried to order what the chef recommends as indicated in the menu, so we ordered Sentro's Roasted Chicken and Galunggong Fillets in Garlic. But Mitch also wanted to try the Crispy Pork Spareribs drizzled with white sauce and we couldn't possibly ignore the classic Corned Beef sinigang.

As usual, the Sentro's Corned Beef Sinigang didn't disappoint us. The dish is generous with its vegetables and large, juicy chunks of Corned Beef. Although I would recommend that instead of putting large slabs of corned beef, they should result to smaller cubes for convenient sharing. Other than that it was perfect.

The Galunggong Fillets look just like what Galunggong should be like. I love the garlic-oil mix to it. The fillets were flavorful. Eating it with steamed rice took me back to eating breakfast food. It was only missing fried eggs to complete the breakfast taste. The garlic oil did the trick to make the taste of galunggong slightly sophisticated. But I find paying 250 pesos for this dish of 10 smaller fillets steep.

Meanwhile, Sentro's Roasted chicken tasted like a traditional home-made chicken cooked in Turbo. It was juicy and the gravy helped, but while tasting the roasted meat, it was bland. It was too homey for my taste; and it made an impression that it could actually be cooked by anyone as long as they have a Turbo and ready marinade. There is nothing quite special about this.

What we really liked was the Crispy Pork Spareribs with a drizzle of white sauce. It was tender, tasty and fall off the bone. The white sauce complemented the tasty spareribs well. The three of us loved it and Mitch was able to finish his own dish. Of all the dishes we ordered, this is the only one without leftovers.

We ate like there was no tomorrow, but still conditioned ourselves to try out at least one dessert offering. After minutes of contemplating, we decided to go with Sentro's Cheesecake since we couldn't find the space to try out other Filipino inspired desserts of ricecakes, suman and bananas. When the Cheesecake arrived, I was a little disappointed of the size for its price. But what in lacked in size, made up for the cheesecake goodness. The cake itself was velvety, not too sweet, not too cheesy. It was smooth and very fulfilling. On top of the cheescake, it tasted like leche-flan so there's still a pinoy kick to it. Mitch just enjoyed the cake-filling and comically said to the serving waiter to include sugarfree desserts in their menu next time.

Sentro's dishes are traditional to one of a kind pinoy, but everything on the menu is familiar. There are no dramatic fusion that would leave us grappling. They're just trying to offer traditional pinoy dishes and flavors with a dash of inventiveness that we all can understand. After writing the reviews and making sure Mitch wrote his, we paid for our drinks and tried to have coffee in an attempt to ease an impending stomachache from eating too much.

I'd like to think that we gave them useful and honest reviews. We didn't hold anything back. Down from the interior, to the service, to the food specifics, we made sure we had something to say. It was just a small way of helping them know what to improve and what to maintain to ensure their continued success. For letting us order lots and even allowed us to have take-outs, writing an honest and detailed review was just a small thing to do. They even thanked us by giving a discount card on our next Sentro visit.

Phenomenal. It is one of the best experiences I've had, to become a valued critic and eating full chic meals for free. To share it with Mitch and my sister was also a worthy experience. I'd hate to think of this as my last.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I must Read more

Before I used to read a lot of books, average of 2 books at the same time. I'd usually finish in days not in weeks. There was even a time that I read the Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder from 8 am till 10 pm, finished it of course, but without taking a bath and eating my meals at my room. When I was in high school, I'd read during lunch breaks then after school while waiting for my ride. Novels of Grisham, Crichton, Austen occupied my mental space more than Geometry. Those were the days that I was able to save lots of money because instead of going and eating out, I'd just stay at home and read. Before I had a "love life" I just stayed at home and read. My splurge was going to the bookstore and buying an average of five books or staying in Powerbooks in Arnaiz avenue from 12 pm to 5 pm while my sister and mom shopped. I don't go out on dates or with friendly gimmicks. Not that I totally blame my improved social life, but reading is the one thing that can effectively zone out the rest of the world and lock me in my room for 24 hours straight. God I miss those days.

Work with improved social activities, not related to literature destroyed my groove. My attention span weakened. Though I always have a book in tow with me, but I would hardly finish in a week. I'd finish in months, or sometimes not finish at all then move to another title. It's a shame. When I go home at around 10 pm, I'd blog, click on my bedside lamp and catch up on my reading, but before I could finish a chapter, I'd find myself dozing off. I'm such a slow reader these days, I really need to get my groove back. Vacations are the only times that Icould get to fully enjoy reading and zone out the world. But I can never go on vacations all the time now can I? Weekends are equally hopeless.

I was on a desperate stage, when my colleague at the office let me borrow one of her newest fantasy book finds by Alison Crogon titled The Gift. It's the first book out of the four and my colleague vows that she enjoyed it. She said that she couldn't put it down and ended up sleeping in the wee hours even at work days. I told her I could the past. I was envious. I was re-reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez'100 years of Solitude to remember the old days, when I gladly accepted her offer. I decided to borrow the book. She said that I'll be instantly hooked. Just so anyone would want to know, I confess the book was given to me two weeks ago and I still haven't finished. For Pete's sake the composition is for young adults like Twilight. I'm already more than halfway done then sudden activities and stress started to take its toll. I'm bringing the book with me everyday, but it's been four days since I last read it. I'm almost done, why can't I just damn finish it? I admit the story is interesting enough. This reminds me about my gym activities. It's been a week since I haven't visited the facility. The things that I'm supposed to do were stuck in midair. No more excuses. I promise to get back on everything tomorrow.

Now, I'm looking at the pristine book The Gift, which I'm halfway done with. I'm already familiar with the characters and I still remember the last chapters. I have to find my groove back. I miss ME.

After this post, I'm going to have to read it and hopefully finish it before the day ends. Even at work, there are just some things that are not worth neglecting.

I must Read

Before I used to read a lot of books, average of 2 books at the same time. I'd usually finish in days. There was even a time that I read the Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder from 8 am till 10 pm, not taking a bath and in my pajamas. When I was in high school, I'd read during lunch then after school while waiting for my ride. Novels of Grisham, Crichton, Austen occupied my mental space more than Geometry. Those were the days that I was able to save lots of money because instead of going and eating out, I'd just stay at home and read. Before I had a "love life" I just stayed at home and read. My splurge was going to the bookstore and buying five books. I don't go out on dates or with friendly gimmicks. not that I totally blame my improved social life, but reading is the one thing tha can effectively zone out the rest of the world and lock myself in my room for 24 hours straight. God I miss those days.

Work that's not related to literature destroyed my groove with improved social activities. My attention span weakened. Though I always have a book in tow with me, but I would hardly finish it in a week. I'd finish in months, or sometimes not finish at all. It's a shame. When I go home at around 10 pm, I'd blog, click on my bedside lamp and catch up on my reading. But before I could finish a chapter, I'd find myself dozing off. I'm such a slow reader these days, I really need to get my groove back. Vacations are the only times that I get to fully enjoy reading and zone out the world. But I can never go on vacations all the time now can I? Weekens are equally hopeless.

I was on a desperate stage, when my colleague at the office let me borrow one of her newest fantasy book finds by Alison Crogon titled The Gift. It's the first book out of the four and my colleague vows that she enjoyed it. She said that she couldn't put it down and ended up sleeping in the wee hours even at work days. I told her I could the past. I was envious. I was re-reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez'100 years of Solitude to remember the old days, when I gladly accepted her offer. I decided to borrow the book. She said that I'll be instantly hooked. She gave that book to me two weeks ago and I still haven't finish. For pete's sake the composition is for young adults like Twilight.

For a time I was hooked. I'm already more than halfway done then sudden activities and stress started to take its toll. I'm brining the book with me everyday, but it's been four days since I last read it. I'm almost done, why can't I just finish it? I admit the story is interesting enough. Which reminds me about my gym, it's been a week since I haven't been there. My physiological visitor didn't allow me to, but enough with excuses. I promise to get back on it tomorrow.

Now, I'm looking at the pristine book The Gift, which I'm halfway done with. I'm already familiar with the characters and I still remember the last episodes. I have to find my groove back. It was ME. I miss ME. After this post, I'm going to have to read it and hopefully finish it before the day ends. Even at work, there are just some things that are not worth neglecting.


An hour ago, I've completed a long post about the massacre that happened in Maguindanao. I had included my emotional, political and personal views on it with gusto. But with faulty and unreliable proxy connection in our office, the poetic words were lost to cyber oblivion. Instead of cursing and throwing my office laptop out the window, I will not. I glance and it's still 8 am. I still have a long way to go.

I'm not going to go on detail on this. If you're well-informed, you should be aware of the Maguindanao massacre now easily coined as Ampatuan massacre, where a convoy of civilians were abducted and killed while they were on their way to submit the certificate of candidacy of Ismael Mangudadato, a political rival of the Ampatuans. The Ampatuans are powerful political figures of the land. Ironically, the Ampatuans are also Arroyo administration allies. The convoy would've been strategic since they had media personnel and women on board. It would've have easily warded off ill-plans of abduction. But apparently, the strategy wasn't fool proof. All 6 vans were abducted by allegedly 100 gunmen composed of local security officers and individuals for Ampatuan. Some women were brutally raped, all victimes were mutilated and all killed in close range. They were dumped in a 20 feet mass grave along with the crushed cars with the help of a local government registered backhoe. It's not hard to pinpoint Ampatuans. There were witnesses, equipment and most importantly, there's a strong motive.

All I have to say is that the solid acts of violence shook our lands, which threatens what we preciously call democracy. Acts of murder, rape and mutilation done against unarmed civiliams, females, lawyers and media-men are almost unforgiveable. Because of certain people's lust for power, they have become barbarians. Because of this, our country's recognized as the most dangerous country for journalists, overtaking Iraq and Pakistan. Ironically in prepartion for the national elections, people died. The news continuously bring sadness, frustrations and anger to us all. The global community pressures what needs to be pressured while we weep for this tragedy.

For those who performed the murders, they're not humans, they're monsters, supposedly drugged to easily perform what is intended. Allegedly 100 Ampatuan gunmen, hired by a political rival of Mangudadatos, performed the heinous crime. Even local government equipment and local security personnel were said to have been used. There goes your murder and drug related charges.

But for those who ordered the killings, allegedly the Ampatuan clan, those who have strong motives and power, how could you? Civil society, global community and the law would easily serve death sentences to your doorsteps. If proven, I hope you pay hard in this life and in the afterlife. I'm sorry, but what you initiated was not something we could easily forgive.

I hope the government acts fast. According to Rene Saguisag, a popular political figure, this government acts too slow with regards to this issue. In previous administrations, a massacre of this magnitude and nature would not be easily tolerated. Law society agrees. I agree. While updated massacre pictures are printed to constantly remind us, we still find ourselves waiting. It's been more than 36 hours. Justice should be served.

Let's pressure who needs to be pressured. Let's pray for this country to pass the test and to sweep out the monsters in power that continue to harbor these lands. I pray for my country to unite and do the right thing. I pray for the victims and their families. I pray this will not happen again, anywhere.

Please wear black tomorrow as a sign of mourning and justice. This must not happen again.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Coffee Talk: I hate these women

I think I should put up a Female Detective Agency.

Thanks to my unwavering intuition, diligence and meticulous research, I've consistently exposed shady truths about people; and based from experience I'm 99% right. And that is only through the help of the world wide web.

In complicated situations involving a person's life, I always observe and gather information first. I don't entertain frenzy and share it with others to plant a bad seed in their minds. I just observe, I analyze and I plan all by myself. This is the part that I keep my emotions at bay and always STILL give the person the benefit of the doubt, even if at times it's forced.

But when I receive a strong evidence, backed by a specific loophole, I attack with full conviction and accountability. If I have a sound case, this is where I survey and gather other people's insights. Gather, not influence.

My research and observations could take up months. It depends how the person, bound to be observed, can exhibit his/her level of stupidity and carelessness enough to get caught. And when they do, they always deny, cry and retaliate. I, of course, already built a strong foundation on my case and there is nothing they could do to win my favor.

I do not enjoy doing this. It's easier to be carefree and be neutral. To unmask the truth and to piece the puzzles in my head aren't fun. It's unsolicited headache and heartache. Whether it's happening to me or to a friend, it's always painful to observe. I'm not also a person who carry a pristine flag of morality, but I know, in my lifetime and capacity I won't do anything weak as CHEATING to the verge of losing my integrity, destroying relationships, being a hypocrite and being immoral. It's something that I DO NOT CONDONE and thankfully, I WON'T EVER COMMIT. I always have strong principles in this area; and so far it's unwavering.

So to observe and research from afar, I admit that it's painful, but a slow fruitful revelation. If the situation happened to me, I know when to act and how to take matters unto my own hands. But if it's a truth that affects a loved one or a friend, as much as possible, I stay a good distance and let him/her figure things out on his/her own. But my silence depends on the gravity of the evidence and research of course. If the situation is already staring at me, I might just go for it and tell the truth. The point is, I don't act when I'm not certain and without evidence; and I don't act because of desire. Usually my actions spring from the cerainty and the need to tell the person my concerns. That is how I am as a friend and this is how I am as a person.

People think that I might be self-righteous for assuming a role that is not really my concern. True, I have my own life and it's boring and messy enough as it is, but in this world, we are responsible for each other. If the act is out in the open and if there's a truth that I can slowly unmask, it's my choice to do something about it. I will use that opportunity to push people to be true to themselves if I have to. As a person, I do not believe in mitigating destruction by ignoring the issue.

Also, being self-righteous is maybe a good thing, if you know which aspect you're being self-righteous about. A person who cheats cannot have the license and credibility to lambast another cheater for the same reasons he/she exists. If you're going to hate and reprimand someone, just make sure that it's not you.

Time and time again I have been honest about this issue and I stand with full conviction that I loathe people who CHEAT and destroy relationships. For obvious reasons, my forgiveness is slim to women who cheat. I may listen and be familiar with what their going through, but my confidence and trust in these women will be lost nearly forever. This is a certain weakness of my gender that I cannot condone. I do not and will not associate with women of this kind, and if by being honest I may come out as self-righteous and mean, so be it. Life is too short to be pretentious. If you're going to do something, make sure you know why and you can be accountable for it. If you're going to hate or believe in something, make sure you know why and just be honest about it.

You might be wondering what I'm talking about while sipping my coffee on the side. I confess coffee makes me honest to a fault sometimes. But I'm not talking about Jinkee-Pacquiao-Krista issue, although you do know which side I am on obviously. This issue drives closer to home, to a friend. Based from experience, it's usually the unassuming people who commit cheating. Those who have to mask and project themselves to be the righteous ones when in fact they're not. Unfortunately most of them are women.

God, forgive me, but I really do hate these people.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

21st Century parenting: Then and now

Upon reading the article in TIME.COM about parenting turning into product development, my younger brother, 13 years my junior, came into mind. I couldn't help but agree that the article is so true.

I observe that parents nowadays are overly meticulous of all aspects that would make their child/children safe, injure-proof, dirt proof and healthy that sometimes it's becoming annoying. From making sure that they have the best education to preparing their crisp uniforms and mean breakfast, parents have so many things to be paranoid about and therefore so many things to consider. That's why most of the kids these days are dependent and more boxed up.

Take for example my brother JD. In my time in late 80's and early 90's, I was considered a street kid. Both my parents still worked at that time so I was majorly left alone to figure out what I wanted to do. During summer breaks you won't find me inside the house. I'd bike around the village, go from one house to another watching laser discs, invite people for sleepovers and literally play in the streets till dinner time. I would get dirty, play with traditional games that are not battery operated like pico and I have exposed myself in constantly making decisions on certain situations that hopefully made me more independent. There were no cellular phones and no nannies following me around.

I thought it was a normal thing for a kid, but now I don't see kids playing in the streets anymore. I don't even know my neighbors. Interactions are confined with relatives and friends at school. Kids are more exposed to television, computers and gadgets. They have phones where their parents could contact and monitor them. They don't easily become independent as these kids without raw training, can't make decisions.

Aside from over parenting, parents nowadays push their children to excel more because of new studies and intellectual breakthroughs about children's mental capacity. In this fast paced and cutthroat world, parents want to make sure that their kid is one of the best among the rest. Parents want their kids to get more opportunities and outpace others. It's about in-depth competition and pride. Even my brother's academic curriculum is way advanced than in my time. My brother and younger cousins are already studying algebra in elementary years. Pre-schoolers study different countries and their capitals cities. In my time, algebra was taught during high school and basic geography was taught in elementary. No wonder kids these days are very competitive and would drag large "travel" school bags as I coined them.

Although advanced and most definitely protected, in a way I pity my brother for not going through the childhood that I had. He never experienced playing in the streets. He lacks the ability to make decisions fast. He lacks cooking up strategies. He's very boxed up and very much by-the-book. He's submerged with online games and gadgets. He never gets physical and dirty except when it's their school intrams. As I've observed he is also very dependent with his stage mother. He expects my mother to fix certain things for him, make sure he gets this, gets that. I always get mad when my mother would do extra efforts to shade her son from things he should experience. I also get mad when she sticks with grades and academic standings so much. My brother has become her trophy. Looking at my brother now, he lacks initiative. Probably because he too is burned out with the pressure or maybe he's just too boxed up to know what he really wants or to know who he really is.

Good parenting is very important. Over parenting is dangerous. Good luck when your kids step out in the real world.

Educate people about PAGASA

In one of my posts written at the height of Ondoy, I've mentioned how I feel for PAGASA, our country's weather forecasting agency. PAGASA is one of the most popular agencies in our lifetime. As a kid, I would want to befriend PAG-ASA, the bringer of no-classes news. Of course I was selfish then, it's different now as an adult, when I've become more mature and understand how storms could devastate our lands. Now I thank that we have PAGASA to warn us, but apparently they're receiving bad publicity, which continue to tarnish their reputation. They're the most convenient agency to blame when shit happens and they're practically defenseless.

The agency's reputation depends in informing public about weather calamities in forms of heavy rainfall, floods, devastation and sea faring incidents. But for the most recent weather calamities, people begin to easily blame the agency when the news and warnings are delayed when in fact it's not. We belittle the agency's efforts to warn us hours before branding them exaggerated. Then we also get mad when PAGASA forecasts a heavy storm when in fact nothing arrives.

I don't know the nitty gritty aspects the agency works on, but I am quite confident that, just like with the rest of our agencies here, PAGASA lacks good equipment. Therefore they cannot efficiently predict all aspects of the weather like the amount of rainfall that could've been useful when Ondoy struck us. If ever they have available apparatus, I'm pretty sure it's not that technologically advanced. That goes the same with their other facilities, communication device and exposure to public because of certain budget constraints and lack of prioritization.

And the cue word that most people forget is they FORECAST. PREDICT. They make calculated and scientific predictions based on analysis of salient information brought by their equipment and scientific knowledge. They cannot exactly know the MIND of the storm. No matter how scientific, even calculaed predictions can be turned 360 degrees because naturally, just like how god made them, STORMS are very unpredictable. Storms could appear suddenly giving minimal time to prepare or it could be hovering like a giant cloud of destruction for days and just disappear.

Whenever PAGASA sends out information, I'm confident that they know better. Experience and specific knowledge are what put them in service. It's the majority of people who do not give them due credit and who do not try to factor in PAGASA's limitations. That's why I feel sad when people lambast them in social networking sites and make fun an agency, a rightful and scientific agency. Even actual form of science makes mistakes sometimes, what more if they're dealing with calculated prediction of the unpredictable? I also hate it when people belittle the warnings just because the agency, as they say, has lost its credibility. Credibility is such a harsh term given PAGASA's circumstances. Why can't people just be thankful that they were given a chance to prepare; and just hope the forecast would remain just a forecast?

I am still confident with PAGASA. It's unfair that they are receiving overly bad publicity because people do not understand what they're going through and what they're about. What other agencies can we rightfully depend on? Let them do their jobs, and I am sure in their hearts, they're doing it well. Let's just understand their shortcomings and current situation. Let's be educated and not be judgmental. Because no matter how you see them, we still need this agency.

Road Rage kills

I had dinner with Mitch and my sister last night at Sentro, Fort Taguig. We had fun and tasted heaven, but with our full stomachs, we landed right back to earth and decided to just go home (and sleep) ironically afer having our coffee stop. While trying to leave the amazingly far and muddy parking space, we were faced with unique heavy traffic in Fort. It's expeced. The grand pyrotechnics show just ended and the crowd was apparently eager to leave Fort as well. In this heavy traffic situation, we expected that we would encounter stupid and reckless drivers all gearing up for space. We did encounter a couple and Mitch was again on his usual road rage.

While stuck, my sister shared her dismay on the recent road rage incident that killed her friend's brother, Renato Victor Ebarle Jr., who is the son of a presidential staff member. It's an incident that depresses. Heavy traffic and road incidents are not sane reasons to hurt or kill anyone. People, who are consumed by their road rage, are mentally and emotionally deranged. It's one of those unfortunate losses; and compassion for the suspect is quite hard to achieve.

My sister is pissed because the suspect, Jason Ivler, is a stepson of an ADB executive, a high ranking global organization. Not necessaril with diplomatic immunity, but she realizes that in our present system, corrective justice won't be achieved by the victim's family knowing that the suspect has connections. The situation would just eventually cool down. The consolation is that the suspect would only be exiled; and the particular incident would just be added up to statistics, shoved and shelved. It's actually happening right now as I type. Presently, Jason Ivler, the alleged susptect, cannot be found in his city homes. He's in hiding. The stepfather is the one appearing in media, probably doing some "backroom" operations. Even the police can smell something fishy.

Now I remember the news that I saw about the incident. Same sentiment of despair was ignited. I even saw past footages of Jason Ivler, smiling, joking around while being interviewed about his 2004 road incident. This pathetic man has history and he was still set free. He looked like drugged, smiling and lifting up his shirt for national TV to see his brief's garter. I hope Karma bites him hard.

Currently, police is now looking for him. His family's not helping the situation because some say they are hidding him. Police force says they're verifying his whereabouts. I really hope they find him and let our justice system make him pay.

So for those easily roused by road incidents, please be mindful of your actions. Don't let road rage consume you. Scream, sure, but let it go. Just go play in traffic.

The suspected killer of a MalacaƱang official’s son during a road-rage incident in Quezon City last Wednesday remained elusive as government agents failed to catch him in raids during the weekend. (Gmanews)

New Moon: Rise of Team Jacob

I've read the Twilight series. I was entertained and impressed, but I did not exactly become a die-hard fan same with Harry Potter's. Fine, I do watch the movies, but I'm not the one who's to worry and salivate. Probably these fantasy flicks appeal to me only at a certain level, but sometimes it's too funny and trivial when they happen in angst ridden adolescent stages. It's a certain muck that I want to skip. It's complicated to the nth degree and the fantasy aspect just makes it more 3 dimensionally messy. I guess that's the more profitable angle, the spice that makes it more interesting.

Nevertheless, the Twilight series were entertaining and fairly easy to follow. Though I do understand the sources of swoon and delight. It's generally about two extremely good looking teenage guys, who are natural rivals, fall for a human that could've technically been their dinner. The guys are actually magical creatures that history depicts to have been legendary rivals. A Vampire and a Lycan, just like classic rivals of La Salle and Ateneo.

The first book of Twilight was a rough introduction about the characters that would take you along the three other sequels. It was packed with visual candy and expectations. The movie delivered, although the effects were minimal and I kind of fidgeted because it's definitely a high-school type of movie, without queen bees and petty anxiety attacks. It makes one long for New Moon.

Frankly, not me. I'm not a fan of New Moon, which is also the same that I won't kill myself if I don't watch the movie. Reading it was depressing and sappy. Every chapter is like having to read and go over Bella's depression of missing Edward. Her whole world revolves around Edward whom she met just a year ago. I cannot just relate cause I find it mushy and exaggerated, teenageers. Also, the absence of a loved one is an opportunity of the other. In this book, there is more focus on Jacob and strengthening his opposite traits as opposed to Edward's cold, chiseled and pale looks. Jacob, from the book, is more human, ripped and "cozy." He is the ultimate fall back guy, the guy who makes the girl laugh and pulls her out from depression. The guy who wishes he could be more. Great. Here's something we have not seen before, a love triangle of a vampire and a werewolf. I think in this sequel, I wanted Bella to just disappear in Forks and be a banshee or something. Another interesting part in this book aside from Jacob's apparent transformation is the introduction of the complex Volturi clan. At least they took the spotlight away from the depressing teenage love triangle somehow.

But now that New Moon's out, everyone's been talking about it. My Facebook's been littered with reviews which are generally just about how much they love Jacob and his abs. Almost everyone is for Jacob now, like Team Jinkee against Team Krista. Now Edward who? New Moon what? I feel this movie is about Jacob. If that is the case, the title should be New Moon: The Rise of Team Jacob.

I admit I'm intrigued. Not by the story of course, but with Jacob's overly positive transformation. I heard there are more action scenes now. And I'm looking forward to meet the Volturi clan. Ironically Michael Sheen, who played a royal Lycan in the movie Underworld is now a royal Vampire in New Moon. That would definitely boost up his resume I think.

So with all I've written here, I might be watching New Moon after all, although not in a hurry and definitely not with Mitch. I would understand his male-ego agony. I think I would watch the movie next week when the hype's died down. Then I would get to form my own opinions on Jacob's abs and not just depend on a hundred hearsays. Probably I'll get to decided which team I want to join. Originally I'm for the pale, calculated and more mythical one. But since I have more affinity to dogs and less aristocracy, I might go for Jacob. But whatever I decide on, I'll just be a dot in a million.

Also, people just like to create rivalry and wear it on their sleeves literally. I'm sure Team shirts will be produced here soon. I can feel it.

Well hello there, Jacob.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday at Divisoria

I conquered Divisoria, although I thought I wouldn't.

Going to Divisoria was already planned weeks before. My mom agreed that she would go with me and we would wake up at 6 am, be dropped at the nearby fx station in Edsa or Buendia, then take a ride from there to Divi. Sounds ambitious, but I was very enthusiastic and courageous in commuting because I have been there last August with my aunt when we were buying stuff for Harvey's birthday party. So first step is to plan my personal leave, allot my budget and take a rest the night before, but my mom started to back out. She said she wasn't in the mood anymore. My sister wanted to go, but when she found out that I intended to leave early, she backed out as well.

Going solo flight is already an option. Much to my uncle's discouragement while we chatted in Facebook, I still researched my route and just made sure that my trip was more organized. Roaming around with an agenda, even in a relatively foreign place, is not a problem for me. I could be left alone in another country and find different ways to enjoy the place. And ironically, I love Divisoria because of the stalls and crowded streets full of cheap wares and goodies. I love the "barter" feel of it all. Malls bore me. It's shopping and adventure rolled into one like traveling.

Shopping for clothes is not my goal. First, I wanted to shop for cool christmas decorations since my mom has lost her christmas spirit. I wanted to at least please my dad because he would always nag us girls to finally make the house more festive and colorful. Since my mom doesn't want to spend for expensive set of christmas decorations, I figured Divisoria is our best option to get the same good stuff of what we see in department stores, but half the price. I've already done my canvassing. In Robinson's and SM Department stores, an intricate flower with stem that you put in garlands and christmas trees easily costs 69 pesos each or along that range. If I buy a dozen, it would cost me roughly 800. Christmas ball sets of 4 can easily cost me 150 - 200 plus. In my present financial condition, it's definitely too steep knowing our christmas tree's huge and there are other areas to decorate. Divisoria, from my research and from what I heard, offer the same decors for half the price. Also, a second agenda is to buy christmas gifts for my two god children at Anding's Toy Store, a toy warehouse wonderland where I also bought Harvey's birthday stuff. Lastly, I might buy things for the house whatever I might see interesting like candle holders, duyan and other stuff you think I might not need.

Dressed in old jogging pants and loose white shirt, my father saw me and instantly knew about my plans. He was informed by my mother and held no objections. He even insisted that my mother should go with me; and in return, he would let us use the larger car and his driver's services instead of commuting as originally planned. Well that would be convenient for us in a way that we won't suffer the hot commute and just let the driver worry about the parking space. By 8 am, after having a heavy breakfast, we left for Divisoria.

Good thing our driver knew the detour routes and we traveled through Osmena Highway to Singalong area towards Roxas Blvd and the next thing we knew, we were already in Binondo, one of my dad's favorite shopping spots. The driver knew where we were heading and he dropped us off at the busy Juan Luna St where as early as 9:30 am was already crowded with vendors, buyers and delivery men.

While walking that long street I felt I was in a huge candy store. 10 pesos worth of different toys, succulent fruits, fake but gorgeous wallets and bags, christmas decors, all adorned the streets and we haven't even reached Tabora and the divisoria malls. I kept on pointing like crazy whereas my mom just concentrated on keeping up with me.

My mom and I transferred from one stall to another that's selling Christmas Decors in Tabora street. It was already hot at that time and my mother wasn't in high spirits. She kept on hurrying with a frown on her face. The more we searched, the more stressed she looked. She immediately wanted to go inside a mall where it's airconditioned. She said she couldn't take street shopping. I was pissed of course because we didn't maximize our time looking for decors, but at least we were able to grab salient stuff thanks to me.

By 10:45 am my mom's had it with Christmas decor shopping in the busy and hot Tabora street so we decided to go to the nearby building where Anding's Toy Store, which is more like a wonderland warehouse of toys, is located. I bought durable, wooden educational toys for my two godchildren. Each cost 240 pesos. Of that size, quality and purpose, those could easily cost near 1K in Hobbes and Landes. For myself, I bought a large jumping rope for 18 bucks, a complete scrabble set for 140. I also wanted to buy a set of cool masks and machine/shotguns 3 for 100, but my mom was insanely KJ.

By 11:45 we walked a couple of minutes to get to 168 mall, a more organized mall than the original DV mall near Tabora street. We went window shopping. There were lots and I mean lots of updated (fake but insanel good material) bags and shoes there. They have "imported brands" of travel bags, hand bags, totes selling for 200-400 pesos. Hip shoes there sell for 200. If my sister was with me, she could've hyperventilated with excitement on the spot. Clothes from basics to formal are scattered together with gardening tools, kitchen supplies, electric supplies and even pet supplies.

Before going through stalls, we ate first at the busy food stall. I ate at Kai Hong Eatery, much to Mitch's amusement. After grabbing a bite we went window shopping and my mom started to light up by seeing good material shirt dresses that cost 300 bucks. Party clothes for 300 and a luxurious, Charlotte-York inspired, black and white A-line dress for only 400. It was impossible to get that good cut and material for 400. Well, in the first place, it doesn't look like 400. It looks like a thousand bucks. Upon seeing that, my mom insisted I should buy it because she kept on raving about the material and the cut. And so I did. A few stores away, we saw artsy-fartsy shirts on sale and the material is divine. The cloth is thin, cool and soft. Think the likes of DAVID and GOLIATH shirts. For 400 pesos, we got 4 cute shirts for JD and Mitch. And knowing my mom, being so meticulous in buying shirts, was so pleased with our progress. But that's when I realized I'm spending too much already. I've spent cash that's alloted for my phone and credit card bills. It's sad that I went pass budget, but thinking about the dress, the christmas decors, the toys, they are all worth it.
After conquering 168 my mom bought cheap fruits (3 kilos of kiat kiat for 100, 4 guavas for 100) along the road. We also bought 25 pcs good quality, glossy gift wrappers for 75 pesos, 100 gift cards for 10 pesos, and my magnificent find...the ELECTRONIC BUBBLE GUN.

My mom was weirded out about my purchase. We were walking along the street when I just saw this guy demonstrating the electronic bubble gun. The gun's so colorful that I doubt anyone would miss it; and the bubbles it released was insane. I immediately fell in love with it. I was about to buy the bubble gun worth 100 pesos when my mom insisted that I should get the one with sound effects for 12o. And again, so I did. I was walking along the streets of Tabora and Juan Luna "gunning" bubbles on my path. Three people, 2 moms and a guy asked me where I found it. They were so amazed and curious. I even let one guy get the feel of it. Most of them said that they saw bubble guns in malls that are expensive. Proud as I am, I helped them with the directions on how to get to the only vendor who's selling it. I didn't share the fact that I had fun letting people in my path eat soap of course. Ha-ha.

By 2 pm we were on our way home and no matter how I wanted to buy those 10 pesos worth of toys, I have to control. I knew I shouldn't spend anymore. I'm already dried as it is, but then I saw these sophisticated, golden candle holders perfect for intimate parties at Juan Luna Street. You would not find this in malls and even if you do find it, it'll cost 300 pesos the cheapest. The geniune looking guy was selling different designs, freshly made, for 100 pesos each; No brainer. I grabbed three. There goes my last 500 bucks. At least I still have 200 pesos for emergency.

Divisoria is love. My mom would disagree of course. She's more of a Greenhills shopper where it's airconditioned, more organized and safer in terms of security and product control. That may be true, Divisoria may not have the best circumstances when it comes to shopping. It's dirty, smelly, hot, overly crowded and disorganized, but if you're a person who really likes die-hard cheap finds (cheaper than ghills), see this kind of shopping as a fulfilling adventure and not to complain of the heat and the crowd, then you will love divisoria.
For some who know my basic interests like my mom, you'd be surprised by my revelation. You might ask that for a person who hates shopping, why would I even consider Divisoria? I still don't shop for clothes, shoes and stuff. I primarly look for vintage things like toys, decorations or something for the house. I also probably like the adventure of it. I like shopping in streets. The feeling is so vintage and exciting. I like shopping like it was during in medieval times when everything was on the street, there were no added costs to the goods. I like shopping in the raw. Whereas for malls, I'm not really a fan because I get bored. It's too organized and pretentious. For me, nothing beats shopping at warehouses and streets especially if it's dirt cheap. Most of the times, the mood also helps.

For those who are looking for durable toys to buy for their godchildren or children, go to Anding's Toy Store. It's near Tabora street (orange building). You will find all the toys for all ages there. For those planning to have themed birthday parties, this is the place to go for giveways, party favors and toys. From board games to educational games for all ages, kiddie cars, remote cars, dolls, military toys, cards, wholesale mini-toys, sports, masks, balloons, costumes, everything that a kid and a kid-at-heart would want, it's in Anding's. The quality, packaging and selection are something that would awe you.

For those looking for Christmas Decors go to the Tabora Stretch. Intricately designed decors, christmas boxes and lights are there. Flowers with stems found in SM that easily costs 40 bucks each is 180 bucks a dozen, all in different colors, in Tabora. Wreath and garlands cost 120-250 each. 2 dozens of huge, glittered christmas balls sell for 150-250. Ribbons and beads for yards sell at 150. Christmas figs cost 25 pesos each as opposed to 70 pesos each found in leading malls. In some more established stalls you could ask them to decorate stuff for you.

The usual wares of Divisoria like gardening tools, house ornaments, kitchen wares are also found in Tabora. Fruits and vegetables are all over the place. For cheap shoes, bags and clothes there's Divisoria Mall in Tabora and there's a more organized 168 mall.

Go there this early while you still can. Friday, but considerably a week day, is already crowded in Divisoria. It's best if you bring someone along with you who doesn't mind the physical situation of the place. It helps to roam around. You just have to keep an eye on good quality finds and don't go to Divisoria without a goal or without a list of priority purchases. It's an experience you will never forget, and it depends, you'll love.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

R.I.P. Oreo

This afternoon, my sister, mother and I decided to spend the day somewhere specifically at Market Market. My mom heard that they have good christmas decors there and since she doesn't have the inclination to go to Divisoria anymore, Market Market is a rough stop. Shopping? Irk. I just immediately planned to attend a cycling class before joining them in the afternoon. We were all ready to go when my sister insisted that we bring Harvey with us.

It's been a while since Harvey was able to "socialize" and go malling. Aside from the village park, I always find reasons to bring Harvey to outdoor events and chill public places. We usually end up in Serendra or Bonifacio High Street at the Fort. It's basically nearer from our place, and we all know that dogs are very welcome there. With Fully Booked, coffee shops and cool restaurants, it's also easier for me hang out.

I never have problems of bringing Harvey in a public place except for some extreme hyperactive moments when he ends up banging his head somewhere and spilling my coffee. Harvey, despite being active and playful, is such a sociable dog. He can never be a guard dog actually. He likes observing and playing with strangers. He flirts around and gives everyone that innocent dog-face that is sure to make anyone's heart melt. I usually answer queries about him, which is equally cool and annoying sometimes.

I also like walking Harvey in public places because I get a doze of human entertainment. Some people, when they see Harvey, knowingly tell their companions, "Oh Look, a CHIHUAHUA." Wrong. What an ignoramus. He doesn't look like one at all, but I admire their deluded conviction. Then there are others who expose themselves to be halfway men. I've had instances wherein Harvey finds himself drawn to a dog and the master is a clean-scrubbed, handsome and amiable fellow. Only that the fellow is 90% bound to be gay, calling their pet, "Come on, baby dear" just makes me cringe. There are others who are overreacting, surprisingly most of them are men. We were walking happily then suddenly we see men, catching the sight of Harvey, moves in such Keanu-Matrix motion, as they'll be put in harm's way. Err, right, when we're a good three to four feet away, when Harvey's on a leash, and when Harvey is practically as small as a puppy.

But in general most people like him and he likes them back. Some dogs bitch him around, but he never does anything about it. He never fights and he seldom barks. For a dog, he has breeding.

Unfortunately some men don't have breeding. They become lower than scums of beasts.

When I heard about Oreo, the terrier mix dog that was thrown by his owner in a 6 foot building, but miraculously survived, I appreciated Harvey even more. Oreo was euthanized last Friday based on professional recommendations because he cannot socially adapt anymore and may be a threat to society. He is highly injured and traumatized by the fall and in result, he distrusts humans immediately even his frequent handler. He bites people and becomes warfreak. Such a sweet faced animal has gone negative towards humans that dog experts were in unison to euthanize. Despite pleas from dog lovers, the procedure pushed through. Though, I do understand the move. I could just imagine that Oreo must be in physical and emotional pain. I initially thought that they should just take time for Oreo to recover psychologically, but given the factual risk and the limited resources, this had to be done. It's sad, but whatever happened to the 19 year old owner? I hope he was put on death penalty too. He deserves it. Fine, castration without anesthesia would be an equal punishment.

Rest in Peace, Oreo. May you find dog heaven and take all the bones that you want. It was just a shame you fell into the hands of that crazy 19 year old. You could've been Harvey's playmate. I would've adopted you.

The Season's Happy and Not so Happy Thoughts

Who loves stress? Well, sometimes I do, but Christmas Stress has a different brand to it. It's another world of stress. Unlike office deadlines, cramming and crunch times, Christmas Stress exists the entire season, 2 months the most. Aside from time and expected effort, money, interactions and psychological fits add up to it, which make this season oh-so special.

I'm not being negative. I'm just being observant. Sometimes I know it's Christmas not because of the lights, decorations and annoyingly cheerio music, but because of these happy and not-so-happy things.


There are happy moments that only Christmas could bring. One would be friend lunch-outs and dinners. During Christmas, someone in your particular group plans a tete-a-tete. This is practically the best time to catch-up when you've summed up on what you have been doing for the entire year. At least, you have lots of things to talk about. This is the season wherein people are happy to see familiar faces that emanate the love for friends. The get-togethers are also perfect instances to exchange gifts because for some reason, people will be FREE from their schedules and stop making lame excuses. People are more concentrated on searching and nurturing the love and connection that's why schedules can or should be able to accommodate. You might be working in just a building away from your high school friend, but you never get the chance to see each other because you're both busy doing your own stuff the entire year. It's a waste of time to meet up with no important occasion. But in Christmas, there's the spirit to pool the comforting friends because the season is an occasion in itself. It's always a best way to catch up and end a busy year.

Also, I've never met anyone that hates food. We may love different types of food at different quantities, but regardless of whatever food we want to eat, it nurtures us and gives us comfort. Christmas makes eating more accessible, more frequent and for me, more pleasant. Food establishments develop promo gimmicks that cater to Christmas. Flavors, we are not accustomed to have the entire year, are easily offered by restaurants. Since people are in a festive mood and supposedly more financially empowered situation, budget constraints in food are loosened. From family get-togethers, friendly dinners, dates and office parties, eating becomes frequent. November to December weekends are sometimes not enough to accept food invitations. Even stomach space gives up sometimes. And I don't know about you, but eating for me is more delightful during this season. Food has become more festive, and for me, yummier. Different ingredients, dishes and concoctions just effortlessly burst. There's always something new to try; and of course we revert to most loved traditional dishes that our relatives only find time to cook during the season. Christmas is all about succulent meats like lechon, wonderful cakes, desserts, gourmet seafood dishes, pastas, pancit, barbeque and KFC take-outs. Sigh. Christmas gives us license to eat food that we don't normally eat the whole year (with quantity too!). Sharing it with loved ones is even better.

Another happy moment for me is actually reflecting the end of the year with a solemn purpose. To close the year is always a mighty feeling for me. To know that I'm still alive and to recount all the blessings we have all experienced are yearend solemn activities. This is the perfect time to look back on what we have done and achieved so far. It also makes people more generous and kind. Since Christmas puts people in high spirits, we constantly nurture love and find immaterial things more valuable, so favors are usually easier to course through. There is no better season than this to forgive and love someone.


One of the things that I really don't look forward to involves unnecessary stress due to financial turmoil. Expenses. Money. Resources. Moolah. Sure, when we work we have bonuses and such, but there's a reason why they give it on Christmas. It's there for us to spend and be painfully generous.

I have a friend who has 20 or so godchildren. He never fails to give them something. I have friends who give extraordinary gifts to friends and families that go beyond rationality and leaving them bankrupt. I know a friend who instantly forgets there's a bill that comes after swiping that credit card. I have friends who travel constantly during this season and spend for expensive gifts just because the commercially-infused season calls for it. We spend for groceries, be extra generous with relatives to the point of being financially bankrupt, which we deny and ignore this season. A certain Filipino mentality helps us get through, that money is just money. It's something that we can always earn because giving gifts, spending for succulent parties, and bringing pleasure to someone are priceless. So swipe it. Withdraw those moolahs and try not to think about it.

Two days ago, I easily purchased two international and one domestic trips as Christmas gifts for my family. I was brave because the airline seats were on sale, but nevertheless quite steep for my situation. I decided to give them these because it's something that I KNOW they would really appreciate. I also took advantage of the ticket sales and the mere joy of NOT going from one place to another searching for Christmas gifts. All I needed were full blast internet and my holy plastic. Easily my credit card bled as I am now down with credit. But I can just be happy for them, it beats the feeling of crying and worrying at night, which I find myself doing sometimes. But this is just on a personal note.

Aside from financial stress, Christmas get-togethers with friends and family could be a nuisance most especially if you do not want to go. There are groups of friends you practically share nothing in common with anymore, but the dinners become mandatory. It sucks. You pay for dinner that you don't enjoy, but then again, it's mandatory. More so in family occasions, eccentric to awkward, you'd have to attend. These things can easily wipe anyone out.

Christmas shopping and decorating come in third. Making that shopping list and actually doing something about is stressful. You have to shop around and search like what millions of people do in malls. But if you're on a certain budget, you have to tread the busy and hot streets of Divisioria just to look for gifts and affordable Christmas decors. Getting those trees and accessories from dusty closets always gives me allergies. The labor, christmas wrapping and beating the rush are worse than an intense workout.