Sunday, February 28, 2010

Movies now and Movies before

I just finished watching Jack, a 1996 drama-comedy, starred by Robin Williams in Star Movies. I watched it while I was having my breakfast, Swiss Chocolate Cake, brought by a guest from last night's party. I believe the movie and the cake meshed well. It's not the first time I've watched the movie though. I think I've watched the full length more than five times already, but the movie still stands out. The story is simple, yet original. It's heartfelt and very truthful. The movie bursts with meaning and not of euphemisms. Why movies aren't like that anymore?

I love movies done in the 80's and the 90's. I even love movies done a couple of decades before that. Probably even as time goes by, the stories still stand out. It's classically relative. They don't focus on glitz, they focus on real stories and great performances. Even Filipino movies had more meat to it than love-team led titles that we see now. Though the modernity of film making at this age has an edge through special effects, graphics and other advanced cinematography features, but the stories do not really pierce the soul. It's either the story is somewhat recycled or pointless. Stories done before are still being very much appreciated now because the story and the performances were stellar. It's not riding in constant commercial hype nor did it rely on technology. Movies done now battle on special effects and technology. That may be true, but most movies lack on the backbone, the story. It's either rehashed with different characters, but having the same lessons, same endings and same emotions. What's bad about how movies rely on technology now is that once you've seen a sample, you've seen it all.

I am an 80's and 90's kid in movies at heart. Though I do have a couple of favorites in 2000, but those I could only count with my fingers. We desperately need new stories. We need new ways on how to tell them. We need to bring the good actors back and not just some mainstream hot item in tabloids now. If we have to remake movies, may it be more empowered and incomparable than before. I don't know the specific answers. But I think Film makers need to take passionate risks sometimes and not stick with the formula. Movies shouldn't be a trend. It's an art.

Scary: Possible Tsunami


A powerful earthquake in Chile happened early Saturday with an 8.8 magnitude. According to reports Santiago, the country's capital, was very much affected. Chile, being directly connected to the Pacific Ocean, prompted neighboring country officials to prepare and observe possible signs of tsunami. There are no specific evacuation orders yet, however governments are closely monitoring the situation and prepares the public for the worst case possibility.

According to Manila Times, in May 1960 Chile was ravaged known as Valdivia (Great Chilean Earthquake) which was rated 9.5 on the magnitude scale. The tsunami affected Hawaii, Japan, Philippines and New Zealand. Hopefully this will not happen again.

We might have El Nino and it's hot and dry outside, but we do not need Tsunamis now.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My financial stand

I went to the airport with my aunt this morning to pick up live crabs and shrimps from Roxas. They would be part of the grand and usual menu of my father's birthday dinner tonight. As usual, the house is tense with lots of activities such as cleaning, cooking and prepping up. This always happens and since we are lacking an employed driver right now, that just means it's either me or my sister who has to perform dreadful errands like driving, buying and practically doing domestic stuff. In all categories, I suck, so I'm actually doing them a favor by staying out of the house before everything else gets a bit pretentious and chaotic this evening. I believe my errand for this morning was enough contribution for now.

So here I am in the lounge of my gym waiting for my cycling class to start, which is about two hours from now. Beats anything than staying hot and driving in the smogged dessert of a metro.

I had an afternoon talk with my colleagues on how we are faring financially. It's a pretty sensitive topic for me because frankly, I have nothing else to share. I'm way below my target savings. and I'm not saying this just to draw pity. I don't exaggerate. If there's one thing that I really have to work on, it's my finances.

People on the outside would always think that I have lots of disposable income. I have a good job in a multinational company, since I don't have my own place yet I don't necessarily have house bills to pay, my parents are sustainable and I'm not a shopper. I don't buy clothes and shoes unless I really have to. I don't buy gadgets and I don't go to gimmicks. I'm a homebody in every sense. Immediately factoring these, people would think that I have so many savings and that my Starbucks trips thrice a week are worth nothing to me. For them I always find reasons to ask people to dine out when they would always point out that they don't have money, which makes me look that I'm the richer one. To be honest, I'm not.

My only vices are food and travel, which equally eat up my savings. It came to a point last year that I had to wait from payday to payday. I felt financially horrible. Though I still have the capability to pay my own bills. I do buy my own groceries, I pay my credit card debt, but at the end of the day nothing goes to my piggy bank, which is sad and isn't the case three years ago when in fact I was receiving poor working circumstances and lower salary then. I guess my lifestyle just upgraded and I began doing things that I want to do, which may not be tangible, but expensive. Food and travel are the things that I would have to curb for this year if I want something sustainable to purchase for myself like a house or a car. It's time for me to tighten my belt and to save.

That's why when colleagues my age talk about money I get awkward because that is the area that I'm not very proud of right now. I might become silent and project that nothing's wrong, when in fact I just don't want to discuss it because I've always been elusive with money. Money for me, especially if it's earned, is a resource to enjoy. If it gets drained out at least I'm happy, but I realized that it's not always good living on the extremes. That's why until that time comes when I will be able to master how to work my finances, maybe that's the time I'd feel more comfortable discussing money.

Upon my conversations with colleagues though, I may not be entirely proud of my financial achievements, but I'm thoroughly proud of my financial independence. I was listening to a few colleagues admitting that they still receive allowances from their parents even though they've been working for years. They receive allowances for everything like gas, car maintenance, food and travel. I could just sit there and be stunned that they still receive dole outs from their parents. That would never happen with me. I would not allow it. A 30 something female executive was given a condo-unit and a car by her parents and even a married colleague of mine has her credit card bills paid by her parents. I could just be astonished by their parents' understanding and generosity when it comes to these things. Though I'm not saying that my parents are not equally generous, but I've never asked them for anything since 19 years old. In that regard, I'm proud of myself. The only thing that I don't pay for is the house, since I'm still living with them, but everything else, it's me.

Aside from my insurance, phone and credit card bills, I pay for my own gas. I pay for my groceries and toiletries. I support Harvey and my travel expenses. And even traveling with parents, I shell out for my own tickets and accommodations. They never have to worry about me financially because I never asked them for anything since 19 years old and I'm still living a pretty happy life. Though they keep on checking on me if I still do save since they know that I splurge on traveling and treating my siblings to dinners most of the time. I just try to smile and put their worries for another day.

Nearly penniless and I may not be financially healthy right now, I still have something to be proud of. I cannot feel insecure with colleagues who whine about money just because they can't shop for imported brands. I cannot and will not feel insecure and distraught when some people I know willingly request for grand, material things from their parents and parade it in front of my nose as if it were their own, when in fact they never paid a cent. They could be willing daughters and sons who receive blessings non-stop, but I'm not like that. I'd like to think that I still have pride to achieve certain things on my own. I don't want to be a burden to my parents and I don't want to depend on someone else to survive. What I do enjoy and what I do love should always come from me and from no one else.

I may not be financially at the top of my game right now. I know I have made grand mistakes, which I don't regret. It taught me something important and made me realize that it's time to save and achieve something tangible for a change. Since I'm not the one to depend on my parents for financial support, I know that the challenge will be faced by me alone. Even with my present circumstances and listening to colleagues, I may be squirmish about money right now, but deep inside the silence also comes from another fountain of wisdom. I'm silent because as much as people whine about money and constantly parade their material acquisitions, I still pride myself for being financially independent since 19 years old. I do enjoy my money by doing the things that I want to do like travel, dining out and occasional splurges. I never have to ask support from anyone. I also may not have tangible things right now, but that will come in time. But rest assured that when I parade my new car, flash my new accessories and buy own my own space, that everything was brought from my own sweat and blood. That for me are things to look forward to and something to be proud of.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Passion vs. Temptation

Come Monday some of my friends and colleagues asked me what travel deals I got knowing the fact that I literally spent my two whole days in the travel and tours expo. For them, it's nearly impossible to think that I went home empty handed. For my parents, they feared the worst economic slump for me. However, I surprised them by not booking at least one.

Of course I had my weak moments. I fell in line at PAL, AirPhilippines and SEAIR just to avail their 50% discounts only to find out that my specific dates are not included in the promos. It was a cue for me to leave though I could've easily picked any other dates just to be able to purchase dirt-cheap tickets, but my conscience said otherwise. Also, there is the question of a possible travel buddy. As much as I can travel alone, it's easier to have one person around especially in international destinations. Imagine, I can get for as low as 3,400 round trip ticket to Saigon care of Cebu Pacific. I was about to book when one of my travel buddies backed out due to work schedule conflicts. I was so devastated, but still strong-headed to purhase that ticket all by myself and not consider my safety. A travel blogger friend of mine, who was with me at that time, told me not to push through because he's concerned for my safety. From his vast traveling experience, I believed him.

On my second day at the expo, I was about to book tickets to Puerto Princesa for me and the boyfriend. I was already confined to my decision only to be persuaded by my mother to postpone the purchase just because I have other travel plans pending, one in Boracay this April and Bangkok in June. She believes that I won't be able to gain financial leverage with all my money going out the window. I figured, she's right. I do have to plan these things thoroughly and not get hooked by just a sudden possibility. Besides, the boyfriend isn't ecstatic about traveling either.

So, what I did was to take note of some fliers and slowly formed my future travel plans in my head. I was entertained by promotional gimmicks of hotels and resorts as I was introduced to new local destinations and establishments I've never heard of. I kept on circling around, studying information and programming in my head that I would soon visit one of these places. I got contact numbers of various tourist agencies, resorts and hotels. I'm just keeping my options open.

Lastly, I postponed purchasing another travel deal because of certain career movements, which I'm trying to initiate. We've only finished the second month of this year and 10 months are still waiting to be spent. I'm afraid there might be sudden career occurences that might conflict with my future travel plans. It's always better to wait and strategize as traveling also involves resources and energy.

So, I only took various maps, fliers and contact numbers in those two days at the EXPO. It was still fruitful for me even though I was not able to purchase anything because I now have vast information. Frankly, I think it was just right. I'm still slumped with financial bills and I already have travel plans on cue for the summer anyways. There is no need to complicate things. Besides, I'm eyeing for bigger things now like that Asian cruise and European tour. Hopefully I could get to purchase something like that on next year's travel and tours expo. That means I really have to save this year and cut what needs to be cut, like hormonal traveling.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Go Travel!

Unfortunately I'm one of those few souls who do not get ecstatic for summer. Why get excited I ask. Summer is terribly hot, it's the perfect time for me to get skin allergies, electricity bills are bound to skyrocket and kids are literally around. This is my perfect hibernation season. I always imagine the ALPS. However bad, there is also a small itsy bitsy good side that comes with Summer. Vacations Packages.

For two days I've visited the chaotic, yet mesmerizing 17th Travel Tour Expo at SMX, which is just beside MOA, a place I rarely go to. For two consecutive days I was there from 11 am to 5 pm forgoing my usual gym sessions and weekend routine. I believe the expo is an annual opportunity for people like me who love to travel and get smart deals that won't break our wallets. The travel tour expo is the perfect place for tourism boards, travel agencies, airlines and hotels to get together and offer their best and exclusive rates for travelers gearing up for summer. If you're scheduled to have vacation in the BER months and off peak seasons, you might be disappointed on searching for low rates for hotels and tour packages. They mostly quote discounted rates and promos for summer. But if you're booking airline tickets, this a good place to go whether or not you're traveling during summer or latter parts of this year.

Just like in any expo, I expected tons of people, squishing around, unbelievable line queues and inconsiderate souls who hog their time with the front line agents. I got all of them, unfortunately, with a couple of B-lister actors looking for cheap flights and packages for the summer.

All in all the expo, despite tons of people and a bit of disorganized moments, was fruitful. I guess with how the transactions went, airline and travel companies got their expected number of clients. Colorful fliers bearing information were flying like sand, which was something unpleasant for a passing environmentalist. The expo opened up lots of opportunities for travel eliminating Scroogelike-excuses with the exciting and empowering discounts and packages. But most of them operate on a book and buy basis, which means you have to purchase during the particular travel expo schedule just to avail the attractive rates offered on the spot.

It was also a place for people who already have scheduled trips. Tourism boards of various countries and local regions were there to offer discounts from their affiliated hotels, restaurants and tours establishments. Tourism board stalls gave lots of maps, brochures and information on how to plan your upcoming trip to their land. There were free food, massages and consultation as their marketing gimmicks.

The 17th Travel and Tours expo is one of the best ways to boost the local and international travel industry. It empowers people to enjoy the world by giving the lowest rates and attractive packages. It also tickles the endless possibility even for non-travelers to go and rediscover other lands. The 17th Travel and Tours Expo was tiring, but considered a blast. Certain opportunities like this shouldn't be missed.

Special thanks to my travel-blogger friend: for accompanying me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More serious Travel Updates

"Traveling is the best way to rediscover the self and the world. All you have to do is to get lost and surrender."- me

"Most people say they like to travel, but most people also have excuses not to do it. " -me

If anyone reading is working in the travel industry right now, consider this as my written desire to apply. My basic competencies are:

1. I like to research and study places, culture, people and sights
2. I am a planner. I like to plan itineraries, provide alternatives and do the nitty gritty work of reservations, confirmations and readjustments.
3. I love data and I love information that has anything to do with traveling.
4. I am open minded and a multi-faceted individual
5. I don't have any social connections that would tie me down in one spot. I move freely and frequently as I please.

Some friends say that I should have been working as a flight attendant. But no offense to flight attendants, I'm not good with serving food and nurturing people especially on stressful circumstances of being in flight. I'm not a caring and nurturing person to begin with. I would drastically fail the initial screening. My personality is not congenial. I'm an introvert and I don't like much interaction especially if I'm working. Anyways, forget about the personality aspect, my physical aspects just won't cut it. I'm short, I'm fat, I'm not that athletic and I doubt my beauty would appeal to many. True that I am modest, but I'm not a liar. I want mental stimulation, reports generation and the corporate back office. That desire to thrive up that professional ladder would not be appeased by becoming a flight attendant.

Being a pilot or an aero-engineer might have been better options, but I doubt my aptitude in geography and mathematical equations would enable me to excel or much less pass. Front desk travel agents are quite the same as being a front line flight attendant.

I work best behind the scenes and in front of a computer. I could be a travel researcher, itinerary planner, corporate planner of a travel company, industry analyst, travel writer and reviewer. I could work in a travel company, in the corporate arm of an airline, hotel or resorts, travel networks or travel organizations.

If this would only remain to be a dream, I would still support the Tourism ndustry. Traveling has served me well. It's a lucrative industry that helps the economy. It's an industry that helps people rediscover themselves to become more open-minded and cultured individuals. There is a more fulfilling joy to this. Intangible, but precious.


It's already summer and this season is all about taking advantage of the sun, liberty from obligations (for students), and grabbing promos that would certainly benefit even the travel Scrooge.

Thank the heavens for this wonderful 17th Travel and Tours expo, which promotes the travel industry by bringing better access to information, packages and discounts of hotels, resorts, tourism boards and travel agencies to seasoned travelers and even skeptical ones.

Their timing is perfect since we're already transitioning to the summer season, the Philippine's season for travel and activities. Not technically a fan of summer, but for travel's sake, the heat is worth it!

Thanks to Kat Espineli for sending me the 17th Travel and Tours Expo Brochures. Now, I'm all geared for this weekend!

17th Travel and Tours Expo Feb 19-21, 2010 at SMX Convention Center (Beside MOA)

Passion on Traveling

If there's a way I could travel the world freely without having to think of resources, time and obligations, then consider me the luckiest person in the world. It's not a quote. It's just me.

I love to travel. I love it so much that I've made it one of my top three goals for 2010. I want this year to be full of happy memories and experiences brought by traveling. I want to move around and rediscover culture, people, food, sights and places. I want to escape my life from time to time and recuperate. I always come out better whenever I travel. It's tried and tested. I've already gone beyond reading this time. Now I'm seriously moving.

It was just ironic that I was born in a family that aren't travelers. They are more identified as tourists. They don't like moving around that much. They are comfort zone eaters.. For them, traveling is intangible, a worthless piece of emotional and physical investment that is a waste of time and energy. That's why whenever we go somewhere maybe out of obligation or a need for a bonding moment, I take advantage of it no matter how limiting it's always been. I just make the most out if it and move around meaningfully. I try my best to encourage them to skip the usual activities and instead make our own, but sadly I'm always outnumbered. I just like to discover new things until I was old enough to plan and pay for my own trips. For the past couple of years, I had commendable self-initiated travel expeditions that introduced this hobby of mine to a goal then passion. For now, I've decided to go ahead full blast. Resources or with no resources, next to writing, I'm now fulfilling my destiny to travel.

I know now that traveling is not that glamorous. It's not about booking the first class hotel and scheduling yourself in the hands of a tourist guide. Although it helps sometimes if the need is to relax, disappear and if your mind is burned out, but traveling for me always starts from scratch. It starts whenever I search the internet. It happens when I study the history, sights and places that I want to see. It starts when I've decided on where to go and how I would want to go there. The road less traveled is always better. Commute than hire a guide. I may not be a fan of walking around my own neighborhood, but rest assured I would walk around, ride public transportation and get dirty when traveling. In traveling, one has to be vulnerable on these things to properly discover what we need to discover. Walking around the block and noticing how people talk and converse is something not included in the tour package. Walking at 6 am, riding the train and going to the other part of the island to have breakfast, is a surrender to spontaneity and endless discovery. Being in the middle of a crowded place in a foreign land is the best place to be. Traveling is getting to know the country, the culture and everyday life better and unfortunately it's not entirely about luxury.

Since traveling is not always glamorous, secure and predictable, it's enough to scare the penniless control freak any day. But traveling should be flexible. It need not be expensive. The demands make it more expensive, not traveling. The difference is, the traveler is flexible while the tourist only works and depends on a certain budget.

Traveling also opens my mind to rediscover new things and to rediscover myself. Traveling is more internal than external. It made me discover that I have the capability to walk 12 hours non-stop because I know that whenever I see new sights, breathe that scent of foreign land, see how people go about their normal lives, the pain automatically washes away. I know because it happened to me. Traveling makes me feel such a child who doesn't know anything, but coming out of the experience would make me wiser and more open to accept differences.

Traveling is also a certified therapy for me. There are days when I want to escape and expose myself to new and positive energy. Traveling has always been the answer. Other people might have shopping, some may have sports and racing, while I let off steam by Traveling. It occupies the mind with visuals and senses too much that I couldn't think of anything else. It transfers me to peek on a new life and tickle my imagination. It's always a liberating experience to be able to compare and learn your way in a land that isn't familiar to you.

If I could do this forever, I would. If I have a good amount of resources right now, I most definitely would visit even the remotest of places just to eat their local bread and embrace the scenery. I would resign from my job and entirely devote myself in making my own itineraries and I'm sure I would learn more than ever. Traveling may have started as a simple hobby, but now it's my new passion.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Film Opinion: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Work's been keeping me. It sucks that I don't have much time to notice life's details. I haven't had an ultimate relaxation for the past couple of days, but I'm taking it in stride. I'm not alarmed though, this stuff happens and it makes life more colorful. Being able to lose time for everything is exciting at some extent. Challenges make life worth living and work stress makes me look forward to upcoming vacations.

So before I get warped and have my last remaining minutes stolen by work again, I will just share my views on Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, which I watched in very surprising circumstances.

I found myself in Fort Bonifacio last Friday attending to a sort of "career change" and was made to stay until 6:30 pm. Instead of going back to work and cook up a massive excuse upfront, I decided to call a few people and just kill time there. I had lunch at Fridays and with my laptop, intended to surf the day away until my head began spinning and my stomach churning. I didn't even finish my lunch. I had it packed and quickly moved to the mall to rest. Clearly, I can not lie down and close my eyes n the restaurant.

I took the advise of a friend to watch a movie since I have more than 4 hours to spare. I walked towards Market Market Cinema and was faced with fair choices. The movie list wasn't entirely hopeless. There were couple of romantic cheesy movies that would be perfect for DVDs and there was Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.

I'm quite familiar with the title and the premise. I've seen it displayed in Fully Booked for couple of months. From the cover and the summary it greatly targets young adults who are always hungry to learn new adventures and glorious explorations. It's cool that after a lot of wizardry, sorcery and medieval thing going on, someone is imaginative enough to reintroduce Greek Mythology to modern readers with modern taste. At least it's something covered by literature or history that somehow we've learned in school. I admit I am a mythology geek. I am so attuned and in love with Edith Hamilton or Bulfinch's accredited mythology interpretations for me to still give more importance and attention to mythology told in a mild and sugarcoated way just to tickle young readers' imagination. Not yet being able to read the book, I've survived the Harry Potter and Twilight series to know what to expect. I know Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief would have something to do with a normal human, a specifically with an initial loser type quality, with ties to the Mythological Gods and Goddesses at the beginning of the movie is unknown to him. He would come to face his fate due to some drastic circumstance, embrace it and in the end, come out with a banner of importance and a new purpose in life. At least that's what I thought I would expect when I bought the movie ticket. Other cinematic effects and action sequences were still left to speculation. With a throbbing head and sore feet, I went in, got the best seat in the house, and surrendered myself to entertainment.

After almost two hours, I was able to get my much needed rest and luckily had myself entertained for a bit. All I can say is that the movie didn't entirely fail nor did it break lousy expectations. If the Gods and Goddesses were watching, they might have reserved a couple of nods. If the viewer was gravely disappointed, I believe the fault lies with him because he should know better than to expect something grandiose, authentic and performance shattering. For instance, I didn't expect too much and maybe that's the reason why writing this post isn't a pain in the ass. I don't have passionate hatred up on my sleeves either.

The movie is bursting with special effects. That is a thumbs up sign that even the likes of Hephaestus or Zeus would approve. As Hydra and Medusa attack the protagonists, we expect imagination and effects to coincide. Visual effects are the great strengths of the movie, but not necessarily the best you've seen so far. The effects may be required and entertaining, but not entirely new especially on a more cultured movie discretion.

The actors delivered what they're supposed to deliver. But no Oscar moment here. Even the sidekick is fun, but forgettable. What struck me as interesting are the mentoring scenes of Chiron played by the old, but still appealing Pierce Brosnan, short-lived screen time of Hades, a cool post-Rockstar era enterpretation, which makes you want to say happily "Whatever Happened to the cool, English dude Steven Coogan?" And of course the tantalizing eyes of Alexandra Daddario who played Annabeth Chase, the daughter of Pallas Athena, goddess of Wisdom, War and Strategy. Alexandra Daddario steals the scenes from time to time. Her eyes are simply magnificent, her stature so commendable for the role and her performance is forceful. Forget about who would play Athena, Alexandra Daddario is Athena. While Percy Jackson, played by Logan Lerman is predictable. He clearly reminds me of Sam Huntington though. There is a lack of rawness on how he interpreted his character. Being the son of the powerful Poseidon didn't make him interesting either. Probably in the book he is given more depth, but in the movie, it seems the time was crunched for Percy Jackson to develop and react odd circumstances. Luke, the son of Hermes, who served as the antagonist is more recognizable.

Now what about the plot? Well, I don't know if I like it or not, but I'm sure reading the book is a better experience. Even though I haven't read the material, I know the book is better. The movie obviously had a time constraint on their necks, which affected how the characters developed. Some scenes were badly edited and there is still a feeling of a low-budget quality. The transition of emotions was missing. It was like seeing the movie in a flash card and if the scene gets too cheesy or pointless, they move it to the next as if the characters were just pulled out of their trailers with lines to deliver. Even the killing of Medusa was horrible. And being a fan of Mythology, no matter how unrealistically godly the situations may be, there must be an explanation on why things are happening. A connection should always be present. No monster could just appear out of nowhere with no particular reason. Even mythologies have a point, which should not be made into a collage to support sequences in the movie. And I just have to mention the existence of Camp Half-blood for demigods. It cracked me up. Clearly that's imagination right there. Hogwarts to Camp Half Blood.

But I say this movie is okay, fair enough, A+ for creation and effort. It's enough to entertain you and relive whatever knowledge you have about the glorious Greek Mythology. It tickled my interest on how I once wished to be up there in Mt. Olympus sharing the audience with the powerful 12 Olympians. But the story is tamed. Even Gods and Goddesses have to go with the sophistication of the 21st century in the eyes of young readers. If you want a clean, young-adult and entertaining movie, go watch Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. This is not for people who want action and authenticity. If you want a die-hard, authentic Mythology with in-depth interpretation for a more mature audience, go watch the upcoming Clash of the Titans, which I'm more excited about. But of course that is a different story.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Pre-Valentine post

I'm not really a fan of Valentines ever since. Frankly, I don't see the point. It's just another special occasion for businesses to make money, for people to find ways to resolve that guilty feeling of emotional detachment throughout the year, and an absurd day of emphasizing the difference of the in love with the loveless. As years gone by and society has become more modern and mature, Valentine's is repackaged as an attempt to make it fit for all. Valentine's for family, for single friends and for self too. I appreciate the effort and the good vibes, but I'm still not a fan.

Charge this reception to my personality if you will, but I'm sure I'm not the only one. My boyfriend is even worse. He doesn't like Valentine's at all because he immediately connects it to heavy traffic, unreasonable spending and absurd obligations. I echo his sentiments although I'm not about to pass that opportunity to demand a sumptuous meal together in some great restaurant we haven't tried. I'm also open to out of town vacations wherein we could get to have massages and another calming meal. I admit in that regard, Valentines gives me an appropriate power to (demand) request. But my reasoning is superficial. We could get to do that in the other 364 days in the year anyways.

But seriously, I could do without Valentines. I must sound a bit scarred. It's not like my heart was broken on Valentine's day or my heart was broken in any matter though I have awkward and unpleasant Valentine's experiences that remain to be the only glaring memories I have.



I hate "making" art that involves cutting, sewing, painting, making cards or anything to do with the hands. My hands are agents of destruction and not of creation. As early as Preparatory school to high school I remember squirming whenever we have to do a "Valentine's" project. We had to make cards or shape a lard of soap into hearts and paint them. Making Valentine's cards for siblings or parents with heartfelt dedication were the worst for me. It did not end there. I had to present it to my teacher, which was a very horrifying experience.

Also during Valentine's I was under the impression of giving gifts to my teachers. Since everyone's giving them, I did not know better then. It might be pressure or the desire to blend in and not to be rebellious at a very young age. So I allotted a portion of my allowances to buy chocolates or pathetic looking roses to give to teachers who were worthy for me. It was always the same thing every year until I grew tired of it and saw the light.


But of course, expect people to go out with their friends, colleagues, families and significant others. Aside from Christmas, this is the best time for restaurants and establishments to be profitable. Add in the fact that it's pay day for some on a Chinese New Year weekend. I don't think I need to explain further. To stay at home seems to be the most strategic and stress-free thing to do.


When Valentine's was still only associated with Family, my dad in his attempt to be true to Valentines, would take us out. But it was never his thing to prepare or reserve. He seriously believes that tables will gladly be vacant whenever he arrives. We would find good restaurants eventually but we will be waiting for hours. On a worst case scenario, we drove from Alabang to Makati just to find a good restaurant that still can accommodate. We'd eventually get dinner at 9 pm and had it served to us with a rushed aura. Clearly not a best time to be unprepared.


Valentine's is a perfect day for annoying individuals or couples to express their romantic love in forms of PDA's, sweet-nothing's and emotional psycho-babble. According to a wise someone I heard on the radio, Valentine's is society's way of "rubbing it in." I agree.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Political thoughts

With barely three months left, Philippines would be electing a new president who by all idealistic means should rear the country into sustainable and skyrocketing development. Frankly, it's been long overdue. We have already heard promises from politicians ranked from the lowest of the low to the highest, but still nothing materializes. Profound achievements are mentioned here and there, but Philippines is still in the same spot. We think we're developing, but we're only coping lest we crumble completely. Sometimes you think if there's a point to these elections.

Boyfriend thinks there's no use. He's not registered by choice because he feels his vote wouldn't make a difference. Whoever wins, there would still be corruption and it's the same banana. My sister and most of my friends share the same sentiment. They would go on with their lives hoping the best for the country, but don't expect them to vote. For them, it's a waste of time.

I can't help but just keep quiet whenever they say remarks like these. In this certain argument, it's best left to respect than counteract like I always do. I see in their faces that they've resigned from the electoral process. There is no room to react and to persuade them; and honestly personal decisions aren't debatable. They've simply given up. And I admit there were times when I felt that I'm slowly sharing their sentiments too. But no. I've decided that I will vote.

Frankly at 26 I've reached a point where I feel tired and frustrated with our system. Sometimes I just want to give up and join my friends who don't care at all. I could ignore the elections, bribe my way through everything, corrupt individuals and not hope for the betterment of this country, but the truth is I love the Philippines. I recognize my race and I recognize our strengths and I know we could make this work. I've lived here all my life to know that our situation's depressing, but could be cured. I may have traveled to some Asian countries and got slammed by their infrastructures and social systems. I've been ashamed of our country more than once, that is true. And as much as I hate stupid officers and corrupt officials that run this land, I realize that I would still love the Philippines no matter what happens. This is the only country I can call my own. My love for this country keeps me hoping. My love will take my ass to the precinct to vote. I'm not voting for the sake of citizen obligation. I'm doing this for the love of my country.


Once upon a time, I was shocked to know that the basic requirements of becoming a President of the Philippines are simply below:

1. Filipino Citizen of a certain age.
2. Sane or Normal
3. Can read and write

There are no tests. Anybody could apply. Of course COMELEC would screen the capabilities of these presidentiable wannabees. For one, the candidates should have enough resources to carry out campaigns or else they would be doomed to failure. The Electoral body would take out nuisance candidates based on technical requirements, but if you have the money and the right brand of sanity, you could have an equal chance to claim this position.

Sometimes I ask, what for? Of course, being a President is highly prestigious and coveted because it requires great amount of respect and honor from the local to international scene. Nothing beats the power of the highest official in the land. Even tycoons would bend on his/her orders. Yet living the president's life is not a glamorous one. The pay is horrible with the amount of stress and scrutiny he or she receives. It cracks even the most confident souls. It's the ultimate profession that practically eliminates personal life. And aside from the occasional death threats and public displeasure, this profession would be the end test to his/her psychological strength and faith.

That's why the new president should be ideally as follows:


He or she should be smart enough to know the situation of this country and how to handle it. Advisers are there to present options and attend to detailed affairs, but the President is the end all of all suggestions and proposals. The president should be smart enough to develop mature opinions and decisions about national matters. A smart president cannot rely on hearsay and advisers. His or her mind should be mature enough to get the information, dissect it and understand it to come up with a sound solution.


The President should lead the nation as one. He or she could not lead a nation by simply being smart and action-oriented. He/she should exude confidence and charm to project and inspire people to follow his government. He/she could be the smartest and promising politician there is, but if his reputation isn't built, it would all go down to waste. A good leader is not supposed to be a brainiac. A good leader isn't supposed to be simply aggressive. A leader should primarily be influential to get people believing his side.


Shall I still expound on this? God knows we need humble and honest politicians. We've had enough of corruption and stupidity. If the would-be president loves the country so much to spend thousands of money to campaign himself for the highest position, he/she should not be corrupted by temptations and forget his oath of putting the country's welfare first than his/her own. For whatever mistakes he/she makes, he or she should be accountable for it and be transparent enough to offer his services to his constituents. A leader may not be popular, but I'd pick him any day as long as he understand and lives with integrity.


He should be in love with his work and the country. He is doing this not for the pay or just the prestige or the free travels and recognitions. He should be doing this for love. If he loves his country so much, the passion to do better will always be there.


Sadly nobody is perfect and for a person who is put on a heated spotlight, under pressure 24/7 with insurmountable stress at the first sight of dawn, the would-be president is bound to tumble once in a while. That is okay to some extent. How he would handle the situation would determine if he is a truly a winner. He must be realistic enough to realize that he would make mistakes because great that he is, he's still not perfect. Accepting that simple fact would make it easier for him to recognize which mistakes he should avoid and which bad traits he should be working on.


Truth is, I don't know who to vote yet for May 2010. I'm still in the process of weighing things out. As a voter and a citizen who loves this country, I should study this further. I should understand how I would want to choose the next president of this country. Do I like?


Frankly I'm not a fan of Noynoy except for his constant assurance that he is not corrupt and that he would not corrupt the land his famous parents fought for.

I was a fan of Manny Villar and how he was able to better himself from rags. His experience and capabilities of running an empire says a lot, yet I'm quite disappointed on how he handles his issues in the Senate by simply not handling it at all. I don't want a president that evades and I don't want a President that is arrogant of what he had achieved.

I believe I am a fan of Gibo Teodoro. He is an intelligent guy who knows what he wants and knows how to achieve it. He could best represent the Philippines even though he lacks exposure. But he has this invisible line that connects him to the most hated President now. Endless possibilities of changing the type of government is more crucial with him on the seat.

Shall I still comment about ERAP? I don't even understand why he wanted to run in the first place. The presidency is not a profession for redemption. He could just have been an adviser if he really wants to serve, but to be President? You've got to kidding.

Gordon and Madrigal are smart powerhouse on the block. They are experienced and aggressive, but sadly lag behind the race. It affects my strategies.

But then again, I still haven't decided.

I've just recently watched the interview of Ara Mina in Mo Twister's show. It's been re-posted in Facebook a couple of times. Now I can say that I am embarrassed for her. Clearly the woman doesn't know what she's talking about. She's running for councilor in QC and she answers questions with big question marks. Need I reiterate the basic requirements?

Allow me to put the things that I noticed in that interview alone.

1. She is not articulate enough to voice out her opinions. How could she efficiently represent her constituents?
2. She obviously contradicts herself in some issues. Anti Pornography Bill - against or for?
3. She doesn't know what she's talking about.

If her goal is to humiliate herself, then she did a very great job. If her goal was to act like a dumb politician wannabe, then she lives the part. If her goal was to prove herself in government just because she has the time and passion to serve, I wish she would just work for an NGO and let a superior guide her to the right path. She doesn't need to be seated in office to prove herself that she's caring and smart. Well, in MO Twister's show, she had already proved what she needed to prove anyways. It stops there...hopefully.

On Apple's I-PAD

I know what Apple is doing. It's trying to tap every audio-visual recreation known to man. From cellular phones to laptops that carry the power to capture or store pictures and songs with wi-fi internet capability, it's not a surprise that Apple decided to enter the market of e-reading. You would wonder what's next.

Though personally, I'm still not impressed with the legion of e-book readers out there. Even I still buy my books the old way, through a bookstore, leafing through the pages that smell of intoxicating ink and industrialized paper. But the point is, e-book readers are growing albeit slowly. Some time last year, I played with thoughts of owning my very own Kindle and read literary works on a machine. I just couldn't make the transition because reading books in itself adds to the whole joy of reading. And more than a voracious reader, I'm a book collector. I believe books aren't made to disappear overnight just like how beepers did over the emergence of cellular phones, but I'm a human who is easily intrigued and should be kept updated enough on things to be able to make an appropriate choice.

Eventually, I passed on owning a Kindle, which is distinctively made for e-book customers. Going to Power Books, National or Fully Booked is still the comfy way for me. In dire circumstances I get my literary fix in on a desktop or laptop. But how long will I keep on saying this when I don't normally read the tangible broadsheets anymore? I read news online. I have even eliminated the use of TV. All I need is done in my computer. Movies, I can freely watch while mobile. Books are facing the same signals of modernity.

If you're curious, I'm not turning into an e-book reader overnight. It would take years and a literary revolution. I'm still your traditional reader who is just curious of options that are present. Kindle might have been a bit lax and insufficient, but Apple, which has a proven marketing force to reckon with and the creative desire to present all to the able customers, is a different contender. Apple has become a household name and changed how people do things. The only thing I could do is raise my eyebrows and scrutinize its new toy, the I-PAD tablet for e-book reading. But it's not just for e-book readers, it also carries the ability of its recent ancestors, IPods and I-Touch. You can watch movies, listen to songs, store photos and surf the net. It seems Apple's slowly encouraging people, even non-ebook readers, to try the new "in" thing, then possibly let the users discover for themselves the new convenience that I-Pad brings to reading. In that way, the transition isn't drastic and the switch is made comfortable.

Smart move, Apple. You even got me curious and possibly wanting.

Blogging to Escape

To productively write and blog I need to have the perfect mood. I could write with a mood of serenity or calm or with intense passion or expressive displeasure. I also need a perfect setting somewhere that wouldn't inconvenience me in any way. The chairs should be comfortable. The place should be quaint and a bit private. Lastly, the ambiance or temperature should be working with me and not against. All of these with the boiling idea and concept would enable me to achieve a post that could be my best to date. Blogging is my way to get in touch with my ideas and share it with the world. Here I am extroverted.

Right now, I've transformed my desk into a perfect blogging spot. As much as I would want to travel and change my identity, this is the cheapest way of escape for now. I could be here for hours and I wouldn't know what's going on.

My next short and attainable projects:

1. Buy noise canceling headphones like the one I got for my brother.
2. Re-catalog and re-organize my library
3. Download songs in I-tunes and upload in my IPOD Nano. (Eeew, never thought I'd say this)

Now, back to Blogging.

Hong Kong Love

I love Hong Kong. On my flight back home I felt sad. I wish I could just relocate here in an instant. A best place to relocate for me is where they have good transportation and infrastructures. I'm not a fan of cars. Hong Kong seems so perfect. It has the right to boast its MTR system that makes Hong Kong's provinces to capitals more accessible. It's tourist friendly and very empowering.

I also love the ambiance. It's modern and busy yet organized. Everything has its purpose there. And Hong Kong locals, except for the lack of English skills, are very intelligent and savvy. I can see myself going back or living there. The feeling wasn't this intense when I visited Singapore or Indonesia. Though I enjoyed those places, those are purely for vacation. But to live? Hong Kong is one of my best bets. My family's going there this April and if not for my scheduled Boracay trip, I would have booked a ticket now and go there again.

Special thanks to Mitch for lending me his RICOH camera for which I owe these precious images.

Special thanks for the special participation of my travel companions Karla and Bags who endured sore feet and backs. I salute you.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

I bought this in Fully booked before the year 2010. This belongs to the starter-trio as I would call it. With the works of Jhumpa Lahiri, Tracy Chevalier and Kim Edwards, I plan to regain my reading monstrosity for 2010. 2009 was a bit shameful on my reading record.

After happily finishing Tracy Chevalier's Falling Angels and Girl with a Pearl Earring, I moved on to Jhumpa Lahiri's compilation of short stories titled Unaccustomed Earth. On that day when I formed my Starter-Trio, I never had an inclination who Jhumpa Lahiri was being so out of tune in the literary world for some time. I must admit that amongst the Starter-Trio, this is the only one I'm clueless with. In fact I regarded this as a risky choice. But I read the first three paragraphs and it blew me away. It was the same happy connection when I first read paragraphs of Youth by J.M. Coetzee in Powerbooks or reading Then we Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.

Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories are mostly about Bengali families, their relationships, their challenges and their socio-cultural revolution when they migrated to the United States. I would get to picture first generation Bengalis coping, but not compromising their traditions and values due to their lives' dramatic changes in a more modern and liberated country. While the second generation is torn living the lives they are exposed to, yet finding the need and obligation to stick to their heritage. In these short stories, I admired Bengalis for their characteristics of intelligence, unwavering principles, reference to their rich culture and a national identity. Picturing them is easy. They don't get lost in the sea of globalization.

With the various short stories, you could peel the superficial aspects of the setting and seep through the conflicts of a brother and sister, father and daughter, unrequited lover, parents and child, wife and husband that stick close to home. This is the aspect that does not need any cultural representation.

The reason why I love this book is because I was able to appreciate and learn about the Bengali culture, tradition and social outlook. I was also able relate and put myself in the shoes of normal people experiencing relationship and societal challenges. When a daughter welcomes his father in her home and observing how her father silently adjusts and privately approves or disapproves your life is haunting. When you realize that you are living the life of your mother who puts the needs of her husband first than her own, when you thought it was unacceptable is haunting. Memories of happy times in a relationship gone sour with siblings seems to be the only comfort. Or that after all these years of familiarity, loyalty and devotion, you wonder if you really love your wife.

Her short stories are entertaining with a power to internally haunt your life in a realistic kind of way. She also writes in a fluid motion, capturing the private thoughts of characters and putting it perfectly in writing. She doesn't use much euphemisms and metaphors. She is direct and raw, which is more lovely and effective in these kinds of stories.

After I finished the book in my recent trip to Hong Kong, I wrote in my Facebook status my exhilaration. Some friends, who are Jhumpa Lahiri fans, immediately replied to my post and said that I should read The Namesake, which automatically went on my next list of book acquisitions. But now, sadly, I have to find The Unaccustomed Earth in my suitcase. It's been missing for days. I might have forgotten it at the airport or something. I would be devastated and disappointed with myself, but I know if that's the worst case scenario, I would do the next best thing, buy it again and hope I would not lose another book in 2010.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Books Steal!

I am ecstatically happy and I mean jumping up and down-sugar bubbling in my blood streams-everything looks candy pink-feels like the first time I got my Johnny Depp Pin-up after watching Edward Scissorhands-and that someone could trip me and I wouldn't mind-kind of happy. I may not like shopping, but I think I have the same endorphins released amongst women whenever they buy something of great value. For me, I buy books and whenever I do, the feeling of rushed excitement and certified bribery always happen. But I especially like it if it's a STEAL. 260 bucks for three full novels written by three of my most favorite and trusted authors is definitely worth bragging.

After work, I was waiting for my ride when I decided to go to a second hand books shop in our nearby mall. I'm also planning to buy books this weekend and there's nothing wrong in getting a cheap head start. Bless Booksale and the like, which sell used books, magazine, coffee tables and text books around the metro. Not only that they provide better access to cheap literature, but they circulate the knowledge and the love for reading. In fact they are brave enough to continue their business knowing that their market is selected and their goods aren't something new when in fact it's even prone to aging. I've been to Booksales and other second hand book outlets a hundred times and I'm never the one to discriminate. As much as I love new books, there is nothing wrong in buying old ones. I feel like I've adopted works without having to bend my wallet just to increase and stuff my library. Besides, if you want to experiment on a new author, Booksales are good places to get some materials.

Booksales are also a treasure hunt. Some authors' works are very hard to find and it would take you money and time to order from sophisticated bookstores. Booksales or 2nd hand book shops are an ukay-ukay of great finds. You think why would people just throw away something that you instantly find valuable? Just like someone said, "another person's trash is someone's treasure."

Last week, I wanted to experiment on the books written by Marilyn French, Lucious Beebe and Eric P. Kelly. I followed the normal selection process in buying books of authors I'm not familiar with. I always read the summary, read a chapter or two, find that connection and look at the quality of the paper. After that trip, I bought three interesting titles called The Big Spenders, The Women's Room and the Trumpeter of Krakow. I have no idea how these three books would turn out with me, but amongst all the selections, these three have the strongest connection.

Today I found myself in Booksale again and began to browse without any specific intention of buying. That is until I saw Susan Howatch's book, The Glittering Images, in the middle of a pile with its book stem creased. I may not watch soap operas and I find them a bit crappy, but I do read Susan Howatch. She gives me an intelligent version of an intricate soap opera with settings and characters so rich that tv versions could not replicate. Her books are always about differences of relationships, sharp tongues, society, perceptions of god and nature. She writes relationships and its evolution minus the crappy and mushy parts. The first Howatch novel I read was The Rich are Different. It's a mini-encyclopedia-kind thickness, which plot has a 1920's Wallstreet for its setting. I remember getting hooked with it every lunch or breakfast time in the year 2003. After that, I began to purchase her other titles instantaneously. I also read her other works such as The Wheel of Fortune, Absolute Paths and Ultimate Prizes. I got one in the States but the rest were found in Booksales.

After my eyes caught Susan Howatch's book, my sight led me to see Clive Barker's Coldheart Canyon waiting to be read. Like Howatch, Cliver Barker is seldom found in leading bookstores bearing old titles. Most of my Clive Barker books were bought in booksales. Although I am aware of Neil Gaiman's work first, Clive Barker reserves a spot in my literary favorites list. It only dawned on me on some interview that I read about Neil Gaiman mentioning Clive Barker as his mentor. It figures, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman have the same fearlessness in telling stories out of proportion and normality. Their imagination is amazing! The first Clive Barker novel that I read was "The Great and Secret Show," which I borrowed from my college library. How it got there, I had no idea, but it was fate. Reading that book was a challenge, a roller coaster ride, but fun. In the middle, I may not understand the metaphor behind the supernatural things, but it hooked me to the very end. With that book, I became his fan. The last novel I've read that he's written was Galilee and and I loved it. I've been eager to find a copy of Imajica and Weaveworld, but his books are hard to find even in booksales, so you could just imagine how happy and protective I was when I got his 2001 work Coldheart Canyon for 105 pesos.

Lastly, I got Death and Restoration by Iain Pears, also one of my trusted authors. Iain Pears has a knack of writing period literature that dapples on mysteries. In his works, you would imagine that behind the graceful story telling is a lot of research and meticulous thought. The first novel I read was Dream of Scipio when I went to the USA in 2004. I had to read it again because it was just so deep and metaphorical for me at that time. A lot of things were happening in the States that I couldn't focus. But once I did finish the book, it was exhilirating. Following my desire to read medieval mysteries popularized by Umberto Eco, I resulted to Iain Pears' The Instance at the Fingerpost. He hasn't failed me. I still have a book under my possession, The Raphael Affair, which I admit I have not had the time to read yet.

Three books, three different genres from my three favorite authors under 300 bucks was definitely a steal. It's enough to keep me happy and occupied for days. Looking at my steals makes me grateful that I have the time and resources to acquire them. It gives me pleasure to know that I would read them soon. As I look at my shelf, I know that I would have to arrange and re-catalog everything. My bookshelf is beginning to resemble like what a hurricane swept in, but I'd have to deal with that in another post. For now, it's time to get those plastic covers.

Happy Girl, Signing off.

Surreal and Funny week

I am now slumped with work, which is expected. It's something that I definitely deserve after having two vacations in a row. But everything's cool. I don't hate the organization for it. Isolated work is always welcome even on Saturdays as long as I have internet.

A lot of things are happening now, most of it are surreal yet funny. For one, I'm in the middle of an impending mass resignation. Things are heating up in the workplace. I find my office now a strange place to be listening to your colleagues talking in hushed whispers and equally finding yourself sharing a thought or two. It's funny catching the act of them submitting resumes to their prospective new companies. But everyone's gotten so used to it that resigning has developed into a floor joke. Behind the pep talk and laughter, there's nervousness and anxiety. Apparently nobody wants to be left behind. Everyone wants to start fresh. Hence, the mass movement.

Second, our house is undermanned. Our most trusted helper left for a one week vacation and our family driver just recently resigned. It's a formula to gracefully crumble. For the past couple of days, we resulted to charitable take-outs from my father since my mother is not who you'd identify as a passable cook. Instant noodles and canned goods are created for living with people like her. I thought we would starve, but thanks to fast food and takeouts, we're still surviving. As for the driver, Karla had to fill in the part while attending job interviews in the middle. Nanay's (my aunt) been filling in with the cooking and cleaning while I had to reassure Harvey that Ate Ne's coming back or else he won't stop barking at night. As for the rest of the day, I just try my best to stay out of the house as much as possible.

Third, I have this slightest vision of going to a retreat fueled by the insidious side comments I've been receiving from colleagues, friends and family. I know I may not be the most pleasant person on earth. I might do mean things and I might say something uncalled for. My personality isn't nurturing nor caring. I'm civil instead of congenial. Yet I'd like to think I'm not THAT evil. I just sense myself as real. I dislike in public. I am transparent and I could be a bit...domineering. Should I apologize for that and go to a retreat to tone it down? Before I did anything rash, I just had a conversation with my best friend. The reason that she is my best friend is that she knows me and she knows how to be frank with me. Instead of pushing me to some retreat, she sent me some words of encouragement and assurance that I have not gone to the dark side. I think I believe her. I'm just being real. I know I'm kind of selfish and I'm aware of that. I don't need a retreat to know that I have to tone it down sometimes. It's my fault that I've gone to the point of sucking out the marrow of life too much. It's too precious and short to pretend. Though kindness and happiness are constant goals, I am human and I experience things that I have the right to react to. I guess I just need to work on my sensitivity and selflessness parts, but overall I think I'm doing okay. I know I'm a lot of work around people, but I'm not a grave issue.

This week is funny and surreal. Rocky office, home and personal issues that provide entertainment in my life's daily trivialities and stress. I don't even know the point of this entry aside from sharing plainly what I feel. I'm hanging in there while laughing on the side.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Strange envy for Mr. Perfect

First day of work, in a new month, enjoying a professional upgrade, is surprisingly steady. Though there are minor technical challenges encountered, everything was solved within the day. I thought I would experience hell in trying to recover my business faculties and my sanity by reading emails with unreasonable demands, but the water was calm and uneventful until I glanced upon information that I shouldn’t have seen.

The information wasn’t scandalous. It’s irrelevant to the state of the nation. It’s just information that I shouldn’t have known because I’m now harboring a strange kind of envy. The feeling isn’t nice. Being the bad guy with a valid reason may be exciting, but being the bad guy without proper grounds seem lame. I belong to the latter and now I’m harboring envy so great that thinking about that particular information makes me want to hurl my laptop in mid-air.

Envy is a feeling and a particular sin that I’m not used to committing. I am too confident of my capabilities to quickly feel envious over something. I am also too practical and realistic that I could easily acknowledge my own limitations. I would know if there is something missing and if I should be getting it. So, I work hard for it. I don’t result to sulking around in the middle of uncontrollable hurl of envy.

However, this mid-afternoon I experienced the big E word. I being the envious one. At first I felt it was a passing thing, something foreign, but then I began to think of possible scenarios and asking the questions for hours. “Why not me?” I began to think negatively about the object of my envy. I began to assess and judge him thoroughly which I have no right to do. I began to compare myself to him. I began to ask my colleagues to verify if there’s validity to all the drama.

The object of my envy is a colleague of mine, technically the same age as me. He promoted in the same company I’m working for. Though our departments are different in nature, our company rewards performers all the same. If I should lift myself up, I too got promoted and I worked hard for the past year. I was happy that in a span of a year I was recognized for my efforts. I moved up, but not as high as this particular colleague of mine. I would have to name him Mr. Perfect.

Mr. Perfect is now 3 positions away from me. His position is most coveted and highest of the high. At his age, without any Masters degree, he was able to get promoted every year attaining a very executive position, like a seat in Vice Presidency in one of the most illustrious, challenging and lucrative departments in any financial institution. This is apart from him being gracious, articulate, friendly, presentable, popular, athletic and rich. I cannot pin point an exact attribute that would work against him. He has a great and stable family, a good home, good properties and I believe a special someone he can share his blessings with. Worst part is, he doesn’t brag about it or act as if he cares. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to be in his position and disposition.

Yet here I am still finding ways to compete with him when I clearly have no chance of winning at all. Of all the colleagues and friends I have, he seems to be the only one who stirs the envy emotion within me and to think that I’m not even a man whose ego was stepped on. I am a lady, a totally different biological sphere, with different demands and needs yet I feel like such a loser compared to his greatness. I am envious of his success. It’s strange because of all the people who should be envious, it has to be me when clearly I have nothing at all to compete against him. It’s strange that I feel envy at this person, yet it’s strange that I want to compete at the same time. I should be happy for him, yet I feel bad that he has the brand of success I still aspire for. If he knows about this, maybe he would just laugh and willingly give me a pep talk, which I would be embarrassed to listen to. Then again, I there’s one thing that I have...and that is PRIDE. I would be too proud to let him know of this certain feeling of mine. I’ll just try to nurse this privately and not let it get the best of me. I hope.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hong Kong Tips

Never fear Hong Kong. They're becoming more globalized and they're far to being primitive. Even though they're predominantly Chinese and only speaking little bit of English, you could survive. They are somehow used to tourists and they try to answer in English words or phrases.

HK Preparation:

Hong Kong is a tourist friendly country. You could get around even as a first- timer, but you have to do a little research. It's best if you can picture Kowloon and Hong Kong island. It greatly depends on your itinerary and hotel location. Hong Kong Island has a more finacial and formal business nature. Though professional in nature, it still houses various tourists spots such as Victoria Peak, Peak Tram, Madame Tussauds, Ocean Park, IFC tower, brand shopping and nightlife. Kowloon side is more of downtown. Imagine Greenhills gone bigger. It has night markets, bargain goods and tourist hotels and shopping center.

Also, you need to acquire a comprehensive map. This is your holy grail in HK. You could google and print it or buy it in Powerbooks or any leading bookstore. Find a map that shows you the trail of MTR. This would get you to points you want to visit.

If yoeu're not on a packaged tour and you plan to visit HK on your own, Google is a lot of help. You would be surprised how Google collects information on the how-to-go-to's in HK's top destinations. Read blogs of travelers sharing their experiences about HK. Visit Virtual Tourist to have an idea on the travel time and what to expect.


We searched our hotel in It displays discounted rates in HKD, USD or PHP. I was impressed on the convenience this site brings. It also depends on your itinerary. If you're more into street food and shopping for cheap stuff, book your hotel in Kowloon. But regardless which hotel you pick, every island is just a train ride away. You could get to HK island in as fast as 5 minutes from Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. Distance is never an issue once you're using MTR.

HK rooms are also smaller compared to western standards. But there are new boutique hotels catering to a more sophisticated western taste in either Kowloon or Hong Kong island. And if you're just planning to stay in hotels to plainly catch a few winks, their guest houses and tourist-class hotels would do. Just make sure there's a fire exit, IDD phone, in-house safe and hotel accreditation. Reading reviews online always helps.

Most importantly, location, I believe is a main consideration. We stayed in BP International in Kowloon. It is a recognized tourist hotel. The rate we got was cheaper than most hotels, but the rooms are small. It may be so, but the room is sufficient enough. We had everything that we needed there. Admittedly, the selling point was the location. It's less than 5 minutes walk from Jordan MTR station and China Ferry Terminal to Macau. In front of our hotel, there's a 711, nearby McDo, KFC and just across the building is a Forex station. We are few blocks away from Temple steet. We're beside Kowloon Park and a block away from Park Lane Shopping Mall. From my hotel, I could get to Central Station in Hong Kong island via Jordan MTR station in less than 15 minutes.


MTR is their Train transit. It links various lines all over Hong Kong. Central Station, Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei and Admiralty are some of their interchanging stations. It's never a problem going to Disneyland, which is on Lantau Island even if you're in Kowloon side. Take the nearest MTR in Kowloon, get off at Central Station in Hong Kong Island and get the interchange to Tung Chung MTR line. Exit at Sunny Bay and there you have Disneyland. It takes about 25-30 minutes from Kowloon to Sunny Bay.

If you plan to go to Temple Street and you're staying in Hong Kong Island, get the nearest MTR you have in Hong Kong Island and use the interchange found in Central Station or Admiralty and follow the arrows to get to the train bearing the Tsuen Wan Line. Tsuen Wan line carries the whole stations of Kowloon. In three stations from Central or Admiralty you will reach either Yau Ma Tei station or Mongkok which will take you to the long street of Temple in a span of 15 minutes.

If you're a train junkie and your itinerary dictates an endless train travel, get a tourist day pass. This pass offers unlimited use of the MTR for 24 hours. You could visit different parts of Hong Kong in minutes. MTRs are also operating until midnight, so the pass would be maximized. But if you have tons of activities that would only require the use of MTRs at around 5 to 8 per day, I suggest you take the Octopus card, a regular card that is purchased by most locals. Octopus Cards are priced 150 HKD. 50 HKD for deposit and 100 HKD for the card's value. The most expensive charge I got was at around 17 HKD from Jordan Station to Tung Chung Station. I crossed three islands and three MTR lines in a span of 35 minutes, such a small price to pay. My Octopus card still has 30HKD usable value and 50 HKD deposit. I would've refunded it all, but since my brother is going to Hong Kong this summer, I would just give the card to him. He would just have to reload it in the available machines found in MTR stations. The Octopus Card can be used in Cafe De Coral Fast food shops and 711 too.


If your hotel package doesn't include hotel transfers, the most convenient way (30 mins.tops) to get to your destination is through Airport Express. It only takes around 30 minutes to get to either Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. The interchanges are in Kowloon Station and Hongkong Station, connecting you to Central station. It's valued at around 2,000 PHP for a roundtrip ticket. If you're a tourist, get the Airport Express Travel pass worth 300 HKD. This specific pass entitles you to a round trip Airport Express ticket and a 3 day unlimited MTR use. Though not refundable, this saves you time and the hassle of additional expenses in hiring cabs and coach all throughout your stay.


Cabs are everywhere whether you're in Kowloon or HK. Its flag down rate is 18 HKD. Since HK is not really clogged with cars and the traffic system is very efficient, this is another option aside from MTRs. But cab drivers pick their passengers sometimes and it's a challenge to tell them where you want to go especially if you're going to a less popular place. You have to have a map to point it to them.


Food is plentiful in Hong Kong. If you're a fan of Chinese Cuisine, this is a place to be. But you would also be surprised to find good Western restaurants here. Google the restaurants and most probably travel-bloggers have a thing or two to say.

CAFE de Coral is one of their most popular fast food stations that serves more sophisticated western food. Their price range is at around 25 HKD to close to 100 HKD for group menus. Looking for familiar tastes, there are McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut. If you like authentic rice pot dishes, Temple Street eateries are there. Don't expect ambiance, but expect authentic food at a cheap price. Good Hope Noodles that serve authentic Chinese noodles is in the middle of bustling Mongkok. Cafe Mido in Yau Ma Tei exit is also a classic food destination.

For night life and drinks, if you're in Kowloon there is a downright street food drinking ambiance at Temple Street. But if you like a cozy, relaxed bar type, there's Knutsford Terrace at Kimberly Street. Bars in Peking road in Tsim Sha Tsui are good options. In Knutsford Terrace, in the middle of Jordan and Tsim Sha Tsui stations, you would find hippier crowds drinking Carlsberg and Stella Artois. The menu is a toss amongst Italian, Australian and Chinese. If you're in Hong Kong Island, Lai Kwai Fong and IFC tower are one of the top spots.


Expect a lot of walking, train hopping, eating fried foods and sight seeing. Hong Kong is a lively city. It's not for those who do not love action and going on foot. Hong Kong is also a place to shop, though not as cheap as in Bangkok.

Go visit Lantau Island's Ngong Ping (Buddha and Po Lin Monastery), The PEAK TRAM is always an option. Go have dinner there and visit Madame Tussauds.


If you forget everything else, even clothes or toiletries, you could buy cheap items in Mong Kok or in Giordano or 711. But do not forget these:

1. MAPS or PRINTOUTS - This is your official guide on MTRS and how to get to specific destinations. This will lead you to the top tourist / resturants as seen in icons. Some maps are very informative now, identifying catergories easy for tourists.

2. MEDICINE - Buy your trusted medicine at home. This is a foreign country. Medicine is crucial to try and test.

3. RUBBER SHOES / SLIPPERS - If you're not used to wearing boots and your itinerary involves a lot of walking, don't attempt to wear one. The best option are rubber shoes or flip flops

4. USD or HK dollars- Upon getting to HK, you don't necessarily have to have lots of HK currency. Money changers are everywhere.

5. PETROLEUM JELLY or RELIEVING OINTMENT - This is a good treat for your feet after a long day of touring.

6. FOCUS - You have to be attentive especially in MTR Stations. Directions are everywhere, but you have to do your job in immediately reading them and remembering routes. Walk briskly.

7. SANITY - Don't get easily frustrated if the locals do not understand you. They do try their best. Or you could just write down words for them. They are better reading English words than being speaking them. Also, just learn how to breathe through your mouths in MTR stations. There might be strong instances of undesirable body odor lurking. In shopping, make sure you stand firm. Don't get intimidated with the salesperson's aggressive ways. Don't haggle unless you're not entirely sure you like the product.

Happy Trip. Enjoy it!