Monday, January 28, 2008

bloody hell!!!

this will be a blog about sweeny todd, the macabre musical directed by goth master tim burton about a deranged barber and his blood lust, and concurrently his equally deranged accomplice and her desires of making the best meat pie.

sweeny todd, the demon barber of fleet street, tells the tale of benjamin barker, a respected barber in london. married to a beautiful lady and with a beautiful daughter, barker was probably the envy of many, one in particular was a corrupt judge named judge turpin. lusting after barker's wife, turpin has him framed and sent away on exile, leaving barker's family completely under his mercy. barker finally comes back from his sentence after 15 years, changed, damaged and bitter. he learns that his wife is dead and his daughter now a ward of the judge that took everything from him. mad and desperate to seek vengeance, barker, now calling himself sweeny todd, sets out to have the people who did him and his family wrong pay.

i have to be honest that i certainly did not expect that the film was going to be so violent. i knew that it was dark and melancholic, like all of burton's films. i also knew it was about a mad barber seeking revenge and was off on a killing spree, what else could the title mean? but despite knowing all of these things, i was truly caught off guard by how gory they did sweeny todd.

i'm pretty sure there's a lot of artistic value to the film and believe me when i say that i tried my best to find as much as i could. however, i seem to keep getting myself into situations where i hear myself say "o god, more blood!". all that goriness was just too distracting. how in the world could i concentrate when depp keeps slitting people's throats while in mid song!? and when watching a musical, you really need to listen to the song since that's the dialogue! needless to say, i often find myself wondering what the hell was happening in the movie... despite all the killing.

killing aside, i think the casting was done rather well. depp's portrayal of sweeny todd was excellent if i may say so myself. though i often found myself drifting into moments wherein i thought i was hearing jack sparrow with cruella de vil's hair singing, his interpretation of how a vengeance-drunk barber should be is very believable. it was rather interesting hearing depp sing. not broadway quality but ok enough i guess. i can't really complain now after watching moulin rouge and keeping mum about ewan and nicole's singing now, can i?

helena bohnam carter looks like she was part of the set. pasty white with a touch of looney, she perfectly blended in to the burton-scape, as i would call it. pushing aside the fact that she keeps getting these weird looney roles in her husband's film, mrs. lovitt's seemed to be tailor made for her. dark, depressed and sexy, i wouldn't mind getting myself served one of her pies, sans the cannibalism of course.

the score, well, the bits that i did get to remember were strangely reminiscent of the score of "into the woods". it had the same beat and well, the same feel. i didn't really notice this until i started humming it after watching the movie. i later discovered and not surprisingly so, that the composer was stephen sondheim, the same guy as for"into the woods". flavor for flavor, his signature was there.

there's nothing much to say about sweeny todd i'm afraid. i guess all appreciation i could have had got drowned away from the goriness and darkness of the film. though i sincerely wanted to enjoy myself while watching it as i love musicals, i can't help but feel that the makers overdid it in the production of the movie. even the actor's performances themselves almost did not survive against how much the production stole the limelight. it seemed they wanted to drive in the setting of a depressed england so much that they served you every emotion, thought and concept so overtly on a platter, robbing you the chance to savor the story on your own, at your own leisure. a joke my brother and i shared was that there was nothing else for us to dissect, the movie seemed to have been carved and picked clean. it was rather devoid of any other layer of interest besides what was being shown. probably the onlything that came close to interesting was something that happened far late into the movie, near the end. but, sad too say, it was too late to do the movie any good.

overall, i have to say i feel disappointed in the movie. despite having great performances, the story lacked the "stuff" to sustain it till the end.

after enduring a gore-fest like sweeny todd, my brother and i decided we needed to purge ourselves of all of that nonsensical bloodshed and treat ourselves to how gory should be done.... we had a marathon viewing of the 1st season of dexter at home.

my form of gory...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

fairy tale overload

while i recovered from the "reader's high" i got from reading "the book of lost things", i stumbled upon this rather pleasant discovery. the universe i wonder seems to be in a rather chipper mood.

disney, in efforts to promote its theme parks has recruited famous photographer annie leibovitz in a rather fantastic ad campaign called Year of a Million Dreams. they casted celebrities as famous disney characters and have spared nothing in making the production as spectacular and as magical as their animated counterparts. the photos will be released in lifestyle mags like vogue and GQ starting march and will comprise of about 12 photos in total. here are some of the pics that i was able to find online.

Where every cinderella story comes true. scarlett johansson as cinderella, with custom designed gown, real glass slippers and a $325,000 tiara from harry winston!!!

where you are the fairest of them all. rachel weisz as pasty snow white. how true.

where the magic begins. julie andrews as the blue fairy from pinocchio, and abigail breslin as fira from disney fairies. julie andrews and the blue fairy i know, but WHO THE F*** is abigail breslin and fira?

where imagination saves the day. david beckham astride a white stallion as prince phillip... on a quest to awaken his love, the "posh" sleeping beauty... comatose probably from a botched face lift! ahahahaha...

where you're always king of the court. pun intended i suppose. roger federer as arthur from disney's the sword in the stone. pardon me for asking, but didn't novak djokovic just kick his metallic ass?

where wonderland is your destiny. beyoncé appears as "alice in wonderland," twirling in a teacup, accompanied by oliver platt as the mad hatter and lyle lovett as the march hare. i'm not quite sure if dear alice's expression is that of nausea of just sheer terror to be in the midst of these men. o where is jay-z when you need him?

where a whole new world awaits. jlo and hubby marc appears as jasmin and aladdin. hmm, what an upgrade j, from subway to limo to CARPET!!!

part 2 of the whole new world pics, whoopi goldberg is portrayed as the genie from disney's "aladdin".

where dreams run free. muscular jessica biel shows what harvesting wild corn and running with livestock can do to one's figure, as pocahontas. wonder if they have plans of casting justin as john smith?

where you never have to grow up. gisele bundchen as wendy, mikhail baryshnikov as peter pan and tina fey as tinker bell. let's see, a supermodel, a ballet dancer and a comedian, sounds like we have found a replacement for will and grace.

Friday, January 25, 2008

of missed meals and delayed bathroom breaks

upon my brother's recommendation, i willingly took up reading "the book of lost things", his latest addition to his steadily increasing collection of books that have taken over our room. i got to peak-read a few pages before he took it with him to cebu over the weekend, and from the few pages that i got to browse, i could tell it will be quite an interesting read.

the book revolved around the life of a boy named david, and is set during the war in europe. having quite a british (irish to be exact) flavor to the writing, i found it quite difficult to resist comparing it to another british creation that talked also about the life of a boy... harry potter. that sentence alone should definitely give you guys a clue as to where the story goes, but then again, don't expect just yet. there is genius in the writing of this book and quite a lot of hidden plots skillfully woven in by it's great author. that's probably what you get when the writer used to write famous thriller novels and then decided one day, he'd want to try writing a children's book. though, i wouldn't really classify this book as GP.

this is one of those books that you wouldn't want to leave too long unfinished as the plot crescendos in intensity as you get yourself deeper into the novel. it doesn't drag as much as harry potter does with the last few books but it definitely gave me the same feeling i got when i started reading HP the very first time. that almost uncontrollable addiction, you try to have just manageable dose of it, but once you get a taste, the only way to get rid of the craving is to have some more. like my brother, i too finished the book in a day. it was worth the missed meals and the bloated bladder.

i actually have lots more to say about this book and how it made me feel as i think i can relate with some of its characters, but then doing so would ruin other people's fun. so i'll keep it to myself for now and will just leave you guys to read it on your own.... then lets have a BOOK CLUB MEETING OVER TEA!!!! my personal tip to make this reading experience more enjoyable, read it with an imaginary british narrator in you head. think, sir ian mckellan , peter o'toole or better yet, patrick stewart! i swear, it sounds soooo much better! hahahaha!


Monday, January 21, 2008

of love and war, but mostly war

noticeably, my weekends are jammed pack with stuff that i have a sudden influx of things to talk about come monday. this weekend was DVD week as my cousin and i decided to stay in and update ourselves with movies we had wanted to see but never got the chance to. special thanks to our pirated DVD vendors for continuously defying international law and providing us with our very well copied, cheap entertainment.

i managed to get a copy of 2 movies while i was at the mall the other day. the warlords and beowolf. i also borrowed from my other cousin ratatouille, resident evil 3, and no reservations.

of the movies i got, i have to make special mention on the warlords.

i have always been a fan of period chinese films. ever since my younger days of watching kung fu films with jacky chan, period chinese films have always had a special place in my heart. they always manage to tell a good story. true, cinematography needed a lot of work with more realistic back drops and better dubbing, but such imperfections made it more charming i believe. since crouching tiger, chinese period films however have upped the ante and have started spending loads to polish their films to international grade. a great move i believe since this made the films appeal to a wider audience. chinese films now are able to match the richness of their stories, the poetry of their story telling with the effects that modern film making has to offer.

the warlords is the latest addition to the period film genre. a historical depiction of the events that happened during the qing dynasty when civil war wrecked havoc on imperial china, the warlords tells the tale of a band of blood brothers who quashed the internal conflicts of the empire, yet in the process, ends up in their own personal destruction. the movie stars 3 of probably the greatest chinese actors with jet li, andy lau and takeshi kaneshiro.

the story was very much action packed with war scenes one after another (the title was pretty much a dead give-away) and does not contain much martial arts scenes that people would expect in a movie starring jet li. it was good i think since it gave him a chance to show off that he was more than mere fancy moves. who would have thought that the wushu master had a dramatic bone in his body after all? though, i would not deny, a kung fu battle wouldn't have hurt. i guess the creators wanted to keep the essence of the story pure, since the tale revolved around the bond formed between three men. jet li in the end played his part very well, a war ravaged soul plagued with his demons that eventually made him a despicable character until his violent demise.

andy lau provided most of the dramatic input into the story, again proving that he is a master of his craft. though i wasn't that greatly impressed with his performance in the house of flying daggers, he definitely put my doubts to rest in this film. i liked how he looks more "seasoned" in the movie. you can't really play a plausible bandit if you look like you just stepped out from a facial. but then again, looks was definitely not all he was banking on. his performance as the morally conflicted leader is award worthy. i honestly haven't seen him act this intensely before. there was a scene in the movie where he was bound by chains and was screaming, pleading for jet li to stop a massacre. it was so emotionally riveting, i found myself mesmerized by the moment. this could just be andy lau's ticket to hollywood, though i doubt he really needs anymore recognition.

takeshi, takeshi. my enchanting japo-chin boy provided the much needed eye candy in the movie. they needed it quite since 90% of the cast was clad in dirt, armour, soot and were toothless. the single leading lady wasn't much of a looker either and for the most part of the movie, actually looked like a guy. andy lau was bearded and jet li, well, he can kick ass, let's just leave it at that. yet despite donning a bit of facial hair and smeared in dirt, tak's immensely good looks cannot be contained. a pity since his acting is also rather good in this movie, playing the youngest of the bloody three, the idealist zealot who takes in jet's instructions without question, only to have him betray his ideals and thus throw him in deadly spiral of delusion and madness. i have heard of an uncut version of the movie where takeshi's character meets a rather gruesome end, yet could not verify if such a version has been released.

the movie is more graphic and violent than it's predecessors, the creators toying probably with the fact that "300" was gory as well, but was acceptable and not offensive. i however feel that the gore in this film could have taken a bit the back seat, especially in the war scenes. they were already doing well with the acting and could have at least continued that as well in the war scenes instead of having a ball splattering blood all around. the acting, as previously mentioned was great with the leads portraying their character's evolution throughout the movie. the story was interesting as it is based on actual accounts in china's history. however, i somehow feel that since they already gone through all the trouble to adapt it to film, they could have at least made it more interesting than just weaving in a love affair and have conspiracies sprinkled about. the movie also felt rather choppy for me, i'm figuring that this could be due to bad editing. there seemed to be a lot of "meat" to the scenes that looked like they were abruptly cut short. so much so that in the end, it was more disrupting than aiding in the smooth flow of the movie.

overall, the warlords was a good movie. a good view to how turbulent imperial china was and how men become monsters and how power corrupts all. for better viewing, it also helps to have a ginormous bag of HOLY KETTLE CORN at hand!!

the feast of the sto. nino

i decided to spend my weekend at my cousin's place last week. i lieu of the upcoming feast here in tondo and how much he knew of the chaos such an event would cause, my cousin was kind enough to invite me over and have me as company.

the feast of the christ child, or fiesta ng sto. nino, is the official feast of tondo. here in tondo is the shrine of the sto. nino and every third sunday of january, it never fails to draw thousands of devotees into its hallowed hall, all wanting to pay homage to the blessed "little boy". in contrast to the heavily charged zealous atmosphere that surrounds the feast of the black nazarene in quiapo, held just 1 week prior, the feast of the sto. nino carries a more festive, colorful air. i guess since they were giving honor to a kid, might as well throw the biggest kiddie party the world has ever seen!

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

for the next two days of the weekend, the feast would render my neighborhood to become almost unrecognizable. tondo is famous for being rather filthy. being the port of entry of produce from all over the country and the world, tondo carries what would be probably the largest open wet market this side of the pasig. the garbage produced by the markets alone is enough to make us visible from google EARTH! the streets are perennially wet, muddy and slimy and the smell, well, it takes getting used to. tondo is also heavily congested with people. the hyperbole "living one on top of the other" is very real here. notorious for it's disorder, tondo "prides" itself for producing top grade crooks and vagabonds that would be the material for probably every carlo j. caparas movie ever made. yet come time of the feast, it seems tondo goes into an overnight metamorphosis. the streets become squeaky clean and everyone are in their best of behavior. for two days in the year, tondo becomes civilized, presentable almost. tondo for a few days bursts out in colorful costumes, pageants, parades, and politicians (including ex-basurero turned boy toy, turned politician, vice mayor isko). as i said, almost unrecognizable. that is, until the procession starts, the beginning of the end, so to speak.

you don't really see the sea of THOUSANDS until the parish brings out the image of the kid. once the shrine on wheels gets a moving, trust that you'll have the throng of people following eagerly behind it. candles in hand, the mass of devotees accompany the shrine on a pre-determined path around tondo, almost like a hypnotized mob following a piped piper. i sometimes wish that the "spell" of the image stays with the masses and tondo stays the way it is forever. yet signs of "spell" of the feast wearing out becomes evident as the day comes to a close. you can tell by the trail of trash the devotees leave behind as they pass with the shrine. the end of the procession herald the start of the after-party and all that piousness is replaced by the rowdy noise of karaoke and drunk men fighting as to whose wives are uglier.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

the bite

it's hard to be this old and still can't figure one's place in the world. despite having two degrees and having work experience in two fields, i still can't say that i have finally found what i would want to do with my life.

life was easy back when i was still in school. all i needed to do was to do well and keep my grades up. as long as my averages was in the high 8's or the 9's, everyone was happy. but then, i should have seen it coming. in high school, grades was all that mattered. test scores were almost tantamount to one's self worth in the world. yet grades don't prepare you for college. the shift from pampered high school boy to fend-for-yourself uni student was almost a twist i couldn't manage. but then, i did, and it did not take me long to go back to my old habits. study hard, get great grades because that's all that mattered. now, two degrees later, i look back and ponder, where did i go wrong? what did i miss?

where? wha!? huh?!

wasn't it supposed to be that good grades, a perfect track record and excellent conduct would land you into success? shouldn't it be that after slaving my butt off studying my brains out, that i should be reaping the fruits of my labor? shouldn't it be like that? because i'm pretty sure that's what we were taught and made to believe when we were growing up. but how come it doesn't seem to be adding up now that i am at this end of the "process"?

now that i look back to the days when i was still in school, to those long hours and sleepless night studying all those subjects i had to master to be "great" in the world, i realize i neglected paying attention to the most important subject of them all. Mrs. Bueno, my english teacher in my senior year in high school told the class something that has since stuck in my head. i should have been wiser to have dug deeper into her words. she said "you may be the smartest pupil now, but don't be surprised when you step into college to find out that you are only average". that was to be my first lesson on reality, and i don't think i'm doing quite well on this subject.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

weendend update, part 3

to finally cap off what seems to be the longest weekend evah! allow me to document the events that transpired last monday. feeling guilty that my cousin get bored to bits whilst putting around at home. i decided to take him out after lunch to see robinson's place and the new midtown wing they built.

again, nothing much to do here but to go to malls i'm afraid. while we were there, kuya recommended us trying this resto n the top floor called secret recipe. they were supposed to carry the best cakes he has every tasted. now, either he did that on purpose since he knows i'm addicted to cake, or... nah, he did that on purpose.

i was able to manage to bring my mom along since she often just stays cooped up at home. shoppercising isn't really an ideal way to achieve fitness but some activity is still better than none. upon stepping in to the new mall, we immediately set ourselves to the top floor. like druggies craving for crack, we (i) eagerly sniffed out this resto to satiate my growing craving for pastry! as you can see, i don't like to dilly dally. why delay the inevitable i thought?

secret recipe is a malaysian franchise that's supposed to offer award winning food choices ranging from their laksas and curries to their roasting and of course, their dessert.

caaakke... uuhhfexggghhh....

kuya had dessert there the other day and was raving (a TAN trait i'm afraid, we RAVE as much as we RANT) over the cakes. being a new brand, he was rather unsure of the quality of the products. upon asking for the servers suggestion, the server confidently offered a money-back guarantee to my kuya if he tries their award winning marble cheesecake. now, knowing my brother, i'm pretty sure he was sold more to the cockiness of the server more than the cake. some people i guess respond more to dares than anything else. lucky for the server, kuya swooned over the cake. i can't really remember what adjectives he used to describe it, but owing to his being rich in words, it sure made it sound GOOOOD. good enough to purposely whisk 2 other people with me to share what would be an orgasmic experience.

since there were 3 of us, we decided to order 3 different cakes. variety not gluttony. on the table were kuya's suggestions, the infamous marble cheesecake, the white chocolate macadamia nut cream cake, and our server's suggestion, the chocolate banana cake. i had the cheesecake, cousin the cream cake and mom, the chocolate cake. we dug in.

the cheesecake was indeed good. the texture of the cream cheese matrix was of a very smooth consistency, almost velvety as slips and slides rather easily against your palate. not too sweet not too salty, with a hint of sharpness. it was rich but not heavy, which is how cheesecakes i believe should be. being a marble cheesecake, i would have wished i could have tasted more teases of chocolate. the slice i guess i had had little in it since there wasn't really any play in the flavor. i also did not prefer the crust. traditionally, cheesecakes are served with a graham cracker crust. this version however was on a oat and nut based crust. though i have to hand it to them for their reinterpretation, i didn't quite enjoy biting into the gritty crust, most especially i felt that the nuttiness of it was rather overpowering the taste of the cake.

the white chocolate cake was truly delightful. i have had white chocolate cakes before but none as good as this one. particularly of just one thing. secret recipe's version make you actually taste the white chocolate. the cake was basically layers vanilla based spongecake inter layered with what i think is white chocolate cream and topped with white chocolate icing. it was divine!!! again, not too sweet despite the generous amounts of white chocolate yet the taste was unmistakable. this one by far is something i will definitely go for again, and again, and again!

finally, the chocolate banana cake. similar in structure with the cream cake but this one uses chocolate spongecake layers, inter spaced with a layer of mashed banana. the taste was quite interesting since the sweetness of the banana worked quite well will the bitter snap of the chocolate. i just wasn't quite sure of the texture of the banana filling. i don't know, somehow moist spongecake juxtaposed with slimy slabs of banana doesn't really agree with me. taste wise, it was still rather dead on with a careful balance of sweet, salty and bitter. a good complement with a nice cup of java, i'm sure.

having treated ourselves with them 3 deadly sins, i asked cousin for his verdict on the dessert. his response wasn't surprising. i knew we were done for the moment those cupcakes touched his tongue.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

weendend update, part 2

being it the first weekend that my bestest best cousin is in town, i was kind enough to volunteer my kuya to take him around on sunday, sunday being me and my kuya's unofficial QT together. i just thought it would be a nice way to hit two birds with one stone. i'm a creature of habit and skipping a sunday with kuya just feels weird, in a OC kinda way. with having my cousin around, well, i want to spend as much time with him as well. thankfully, kuya was nice enough to oblige. problem solved and the world is a better place for a day.

spending time with relatives are my way of having therapy. despite how other people may say that relatives just drive them nuts, that is rather contrary to my case. sure there will be moments when blood kin can drive one up the wall and well into the neighbor's yard, but those incidences i believe are a small price to pay in exchange for the great help they will provide for you in the long run. of course there will always be exceptions, like if your a culkin, a hilton, a coleman, or a spears.

this week's sunday QT revolved around stuffing ourselves with some local food indulgence courtesy of sentro and entertainment with watching national treasure 2: the book of secrets. sentro has always been a fave of cousin and kuya alike. the mere mentioning of the corned beef sinigang drives their salivary glands into overdrive. after going around greenbelt and showing the cuz ayala's newest facelift, greenbelt 5, we proceeded to sentro for the two's much awaited feasting. on the table were tofu sisig, galunggong fillets with toasted garlic, boneless crispy pata, and of course, corned beef sinigang. dinner was complemented with bottomless gulaman at sago, enough to make a diabetic comatose. after dinner, we quickly rushed to go see the movie. service that night at sentro was unusually slow so we only had about a 10 minute window left before the movie started.

we were deciding whether to watch national treasure or i am legend at first. thing is, based from the reviews i have heard of i am legend, it wasn't really the good movie it was slated to be. decision made, nat treasure it is. to be honest, i enjoyed the movie quite well. not as much as my cousin and my kuya who were laughing at every comedic moment the movie would throw at them, but i enjoyed it nonetheless. i especially liked how the movie was paced. blame it on me being ridiculously cerebral but i critique things in the weirdest of ways, and as far as all weirdness can go, this movie did pretty well. there was no dull moment in the movie. it will be action packed on one scene, emotional on the next, action, emotion, comedy, emotion, emotion, action, lust (in the guise of nic cage's lovely assistant... the geek, not the blonde), then action again. all the way till the end. i just had one little criticism about it, (warning: possible spoiler ahead) that they could have made the antagonist's demise more...well, spectacular! they were already gearing towards that end but his rather dramatic "exit" just made me go "eh?"
now, a word from our sponsors.... GEEKS RULE!!! and we're HOT to BOOT!!

weendend update, part 1

another blog about my sunday escapades... what to do? i can't help but just talk about sundays. MENTAL NOTE: would need to make time to make weekdays interesting as well.... hmm, maybe when i actually decide to start working.

cousin and i had a "date" (sort of) last weekend for some good old fashion hanging out in the mall. blame it on the innate mall rat in every asian, the mall as most of you may well know by now has practically become an extension of the typical asian's living room. we meet and greet, dine and whine, entertain and be entertained in the mall so often nowadays, mainstream religion has even set up shop in malls as well. why not save some lost souls while they swim in the lusts of the flesh, they may have thought to themselves. anyway, like me when i first came back, cousin dear hasn't seen the new malls yet. the last time both of us were here, all these mall were still under construction.

our first stop was salcedo market. not technically a mall, but i felt it was a good start to the tour. cousin has been updated via my blog with my escapades and has been quite curious of what was it with this market that has sent my kuya and i raving about it. it was a rainy saturday morning and i personally didn't know quite well how to get there since the back roads of makati are still unfamiliar to me. fortunately, neither of that served as a hindrance to our urban advenure. upon reaching the salcedo area, we just basically winged it. i trusted my memory and common sense and cousin tried his best to recall where the streets went (he used to work in the area). in the end, it was thanks to ineng's BBQ for leading us the way. if it were not for the smoke they produced while roasting the succulent morsels of meat, we would have been still going around in circles.

despite the dampness and the occasional umbrellas that could poke your eyes out, salcedo market lived up to cousin's expectations. it was as busy, diverse and lively as he imagined it to be. of course, i have to take some credit of enhancing the experience further by making us have cebu lechon, lechon baka and paella for breakfast! only in the philippines, only in salcedo! we decided to linger a bit more till it got nearer to noon. i wanted to show him more of makati and had the idea of bringing him to serendra after. since it was quite obvious that we were in no more mood to eat after having that platter of meat, i thought we should go to serendra to have dessert instead.... you know where, i'm sure.

cousin has never heard of serendra. so seeing this complex just spring up in front of him, after his last memory of the place was just GRASS, was quite a shock. it was still raining and was early so we decided to walk across to bonifacio high street to pass the time. the fully booked building was the first stop. actually, it was our only stop. to be lost in that building is a pleasure. we spent a good hour going through the floors and books which eventually got us to end up in starbucks. coffee and conversation, one cannot but help oneself to this old tradition. we chatted (gossiped) for a while and started off again along the street. blame it on the cool cool weather, of my cousin's allergies but he was starting to wind down. not wanting to push him to his utmost limit, i decided we should start heading back... that is, not after we make the scheduled visit to cupcakes by sonja.

another item kuya and i have been raving (cursing) about, cousin has been rather intrigued as to what was it with these pastry delights that made health buffs throw in the towel and submit to the glorious deliciousness (think nigella!) of these tasteful treats. i didn't want to disappoint so being the perpetual sigurista, i chose a deadly combination for my cousin to try. a box of six please... 2 berries and cream, 2 flourless chocolate indulgence, 1 red velvet, 1 pistachio berries and cream... to go. an additional crash cart should have been mandatory!

needless to say, the cupcakes lived up to their reputation. so much so that my cousin was hooked on the first bite. so much so that the box of six was decimated in a matter of minutes. so much so that we did not even give the expected "o my gooood!" expression escape our mouths. sugar shocking was a price we were both willing to pay... our pancreases must have been heaving!

Friday, January 11, 2008

hardtalk with the cuzz

had a rather fun filled evening last night when i brought my cousin and his cousin, ian (my long childhood friend) out. it was pretty much an impromptu thing since neither of us really planned for anything.

my cousin flew in the day before to surprise my grandma on her 87th birthday. i had to pick him up from the airport and "stash" him for an entire day. no one really knew he was here except for a chosen few. needless to say, the surprise went pretty well, even if i wasn't present to see my grandmother's reaction (on the moment of the reveal, i had to run an errand for my aunt since they got the wrong numbered candle from the bakery for the cake).

since he'll be around for a good 3 weeks, i took it as my duty to help him pass the time. i went over to see him and after dilly dallying for a couple of minutes, we finally decided to go to TriNoMa, quezon city's newest mall. Ayala corp decided to give retail megacompany SM a run for its money by building right beside it a new mall that threatens to compete with the monopoly SM had for itself for the past decade in the QC area. trinoma, which stands for TRIangle NOrth of MAkati is a sprawling expanse of retail space that carries trendy brands and designer labels that definitely out-shines SM by leaps and bounds. by also having the MRT station in the mall, trinoma has first dibs of the people getting on and off the train, a sure fire pool of potential shoppers just eager to burn some cash!

having competition is always good for the consumer. SM to be honest has slackened quite a bit in the past few years with regards to its facilities and its products. why bother improving an already set landmark if there really isn't any threat of loosing one's market... that is, until ayala stepped into the picture. with the construction of trinoma on the way, SM had to ensure that its hold on the QC shopping public remains solid. hence, they built "the block", the newest addition to the campus of a space SM owns in the area. literally a block that looks like a block, THE BLOCK was designed to compete with ayala for the more discerning consumer trinoma was targeting, SM catering more for the masses. to try to offer more selections to the masses, ayala opens "the landmark", just juxtaposed with the hipper trinoma. so now, the battle of the malls wages on. SM with its cosmo-chic BLOCK and trendy trinoma with its LANDMARK. time will only tell who will reign supreme.

but that's not really what this blog is about.... my apologies for the side track.

after having walked rather aimlessly in the mall and having my cousin get for himself a book and some astringent, we decided to cap our day off with a hearty meal. after much deliberation and ian almost walking into a window, thinking it was a door, we decided that we wud skip the plethora of food choices trinoma was offering and instead, head off to tomas morato to eat at omasake, my little japanese place where i go to to indulge.

the last time i was here was almost 2 years ago for my despedida when i was flying off to dubai. i love eating here for it's designer sushi which to my taste is the best in the metro, if not, THE WORLD!!! my cousin, whom i had brought here before agrees. i'll write a review about this place next time since i can feel i am already side tracking. needless to say, we stuffed ourselves like pigs out of hiatus and it will be a long while till i eye another sushi again.

we ended dinner quite late and with ian gesturing that he was done for the day, we decided to call it a day as well. i dropped off ian at his place and was heading off to drop off my cousin when i had the sudden urge to have some good old fashion chat, something that i miss doing with my cousin. so, we decided to prolong our time by a bit more and headed to the nearest starbucks.

stories and coffee, now that is a great combination. now i understand all those cheesy nescafe commercials i keep seeing on TV. too bad i'm drinking starbucks. we chatted about a lot of things, from our concerns about life being adults, about work, about our fears, gossip, church and other spiritual stuff, and of course, my recent admission of being gay. it feels really great to be able to sit down and talk quite casually to someone about serious topics without feeling rather vulnerable. most often, even when it's with may family or close friends, such topics are never really fully discussed because of fear. fear of being judged, fear of being ridiculed, fear of being exposed. but when i am with my cousin, things come out quite effortlessly. none of that fear exists and things, despite how serious it may be, somehow doesn't feel so overwhelming.

we have been close for the longest time. as far as i can remember, me and my cuz have been tight. he grew up in canada, i in manila. there was a time where we didn't see each other nor really communicated with each other for 7 full years, yet on the day we saw each other again, it was like the 7 years never happened. we would support each other despite our situational limitations through emails or even just having dead silence on the other end of the phone line. any form of connection, how petty it may be felt sufficient. such is the power i guess of the bond we have. such is the blessing i also have in the person of my cousin.

we live parallel lives, despite our age difference as well as our situations. this i guess also explains why we feel close. one talking about his problems felt also like the other talking about his. same views, similar opinions and identical principles have made this tandem hard to beat. of course there would be singular incidences wherein the other cannot relate, for example him having a GF and me being gay, but those don't really matter so much. it just adds more stories to the moments like this one where we sit down, unwind and just talk to our hearts delight.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

vernacular verses

i actually wanted to write this blog entirely in tagalog, owing to the fact that when in speech, i could express myself pretty well in either english or tagalog. this however is not quite the case when reading, much more writing.

bebs, a friend of mine whom i met online, like a lot of ppl nowadays, chronicles his life with a blog, yet his is mostly written in tagalog. though understanding tagalog was never really a problem for me, reading it is totally different. it would probably take me twice or even thrice as long to read through the same length of tagalog text than it would take me to read something in english. the mere unfamiliarity with the words i guess cause most of this problem. i read somewhere that when we read, we don't actually READ, ala sesame street, by connecting letters with sounds to make sense (puh-lees, puh-lees, please...). but to conserve energy, our brain just remembers the words as a visual cue, with letters, so that when we encounter the same word again, we immediately know what it is and what it means. hence, the famous exercise of having a jumble of letters yet still being able to read it, just because the first and last letters are the same, as well as the length of the word (lgtenh is length).

since i never really bothered to read in tagalog, i never was able to create that bank of tagalog word cues for me to be able to read fast enough. every tagalog word has to be read and learned the old fashion way, which for me just takes too much time. sad actually, since bebs' writing is actually good and a lot of the times, very funny. there are things that can only be stated in tagalog unfortunately. delivery is the key!

this said, it got to wonder how language is so important, not just for communication purposes but also as a means of creating a cultural identity. we know the richness of the local language but never seem to use it to improve ourselves. locally, to speak in tagalog is never really looked upon as "chic" or worse yet, "educated". tagalog has been relegated to the impoverished as the language of the impoverished. english was the way to go if u want a boost up the social and economic ladder. blame it on our colonial past but i sincerely believe we have blamed too many others far too much, far too long already. we have to give ourselves a bit of credit as well to our cultural decline.

i'm not really saying that it's wrong to use english. heck, i'm writing this blog in it! but just the mentality about tagalog has to be changed. the philippines prides itself for having the third largest english speaking population in the world, yet to what cost? to the death and maltreatment of its own mother tongue?

i got to chat with vikki last night and she's starting her turkish classes today. she expressed to me her apprehensions of learning a new language but not downplaying its importance of learning it still, because in turkey, no one really bothers to speak in english. now, if this was a third world country in a far flung corner of the world, i would think that such attitude would tantamount to the nation's backwardness. yet since we are talking about TURKEY, a country whose civilization oozes with history and culture that spans TWO continents for THOUSANDS of years, such blatant disregard to learn english can only be defined as a nation's very high regard to it's identity. apparently, everything in turkey..well, is in TURKISH! the same is also true if you go to thailand, or japan, or to china. countries who treasure their identity take measures in safe guarding it. all information, visual or otherwise is delivered in the local dialect. english is only used for the sake of translation for international visitors.

for a country who is supposed to pride itself, you don't really see this much around. to be honest, u can count by your fingers the things that you see in public that is written in tagalog. everything is in english. now, it wouldn't be fair to say that this is the sole indicator of the nation's lack of self esteem, but i sincerely believe it is a major cause of it. there is an untapped potential in the language, as we have history and even modern artists and writers who prove this top be so. but if the people cannot make themselves appreciate its richness, then, maybe we're better off not having it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

food trip to john and yoko's

sundays are usually delegated to my brother scratching his shopping itch and me just finding things to clutter my head. we've been almost to every mall around, him to every shop and me, saturated with what commercial interiors the metro has to offer. yesterday was no different.

either it was the monotony of what our sundays had become or just the humidity finally taking its toll on my brain that my brother and i decided to up the ante on our weekly ritual. to start with, since we often dine out after his "rounds", why not critique the places we try. and so begins our journey to become critics. i mean, it should be really that hard since we practically do it all the time. "what the hell is she wearing!?", "who died?", and "fishballs taste more appetizing", just to name a few of the comments i catch springing out of my mouth. not really the nicest or even the fairest of comments but hey, this is MY blog and i really don't give a fuck what other ppl think about it, now do i? :) here, i reign queen!

so, who or rather, what, was the first subject for the day. well, title says, "food trip to john and yoko's". must be about "john and yoko's".

given it carrying very recognizable names, i sincerely doubt anyone would have guessed what this eatery serves. owing that i myself hate suspense, the place serves fusion japanese food. i guess that's where yoko steps in, i'm still rather at a loss as to where we get john's influence. anyhu. the restaurant sits at the second level of the newly opened greenbelt 5. one of the many restaurants opening in this newest addition to the ayala supermalls, john and yoko's are so far the only ones offering japanese, thereby monopolizing on the ever present crowd of rich, figure conscious health-buffs.

the interiors of the resto doesn't necessarily evoke a japanese eatery since the use of colors and materials make it look more like a night club, sans the pulsing lights and scantily clothes women (or men) dancing on poles. but over all, the interiors made the place look quite hip and very attractive. a good point for a new restaurant to bring in people. the dining area wasn't really all that spacious and once the place packs in to full capacity, you'd wonder how your food will ever get to you since there is barely room between tables and adjacent chairs. not really the best thing, most especially for claustrophobes like me. wearing tight jeans and a body conscious shirt can also add to the discomfort, quite to my discovery. the chairs were not the most comfortable as they were hard and quite heavy. the tables i also feel were poorly designed. tables and chairs are very important since they directly affect your customers, especially in hospitality interiors. having good tables and chairs could mean more people, more orders and more money. you could have the best food but if people cannot feel good while having it, well, better just to go somewhere else.

that aside, i understand where the design was leading to. the place wanted to generate a hip, chic modern vibe that would complement the selection of food they were offering. clean, slick lines, polished wood, retro mod furniture, and splashes of vivid color lost in a sea of black captures the coolness of what it is be john and yoko. i like how smart the servers were dressed. the dark uniforms worn by the ladies and gents added to the cosmopolitan vibe of the resto, definitely adding to its image value. only wished that they played better music. i can't remember what it was that they were playing anymore but all i remember was how it didn't suit the dining experience in any way, at all!

now, i have to hand it to the guys who designed the menu. for all you people out there who find themselves scratching their head every time they read through a japanese menu, more so any foreign cuisine serving eatery, then this menu is a heaven sent! not only is the menu visually pleasing and well organized (they divided it into tabs, depending on the selection, like a file organaizer), but their selections are well supported by pictures and short description, thereby eliminating the embarrassment of just ordering iced tea! they have quite a selection as well ranging from the classic sushi- sashimi choices, to salads, designer rolls, bento boxes and steaks.
prices aren't that outrageous as well since their marketing (and my guess, the interiors as well) is geared towards catering to families.

now, after four paragraphs about anything other than food, this food review is getting way out of hand. allow me to cut to the chase. here is what i thought of what we ate last night. my brother and i ordered the following:
  • dynamite roll
  • shrimp tempura
  • fois gras fried rice
  • beef teppan, medium
  • tofu steak
  • unagi roll, not really it's name but unagi was the main ingredient
  • house tea, for me
  • mango yakult, for my brother
all the food was served to us on japanese stoneware, of which i can only imagine the dishwasher to be a heavy weight wrestler to be handling such heavy dinnerwares! food presentation was kinda lacking owing probably to the fact that the food is often served already on the dish it is to be eaten from. i however still believe that since one of the main tenets of japanese food is how it looks, they should have at least shown a bit more effort. i mean, the rice looked like, well, rice! how sorry is that!?

the food tasted ok. honestly, nothing spectacular since i have definitely tasted better japanese food elsewhere. there were a few exceptions though. first, the shrimp tempura. this staple to the japanese food experience was truly delightful. i'm not sure if it was the batter or the use of meaty prawns that made it so good but definitely, it was my favorite of the night. the tea was also excellent. i was just going to order water (since i like to taste my food without it being distracted by a sugar-laden drink) but our server insisted that i just had to try their tea, and i have to say, i am impressed. it had a floral flavor to it, mixing o so well with that woodsy taste of japanese tea. a perfect complement to the food that we were having. an interesting dish we ordered last night was the foie gras rice. not really something you'd expect in a japanese restaurant if i say so, but since it was there and both of us were craving for something sinful, well, we ordered away! it was basically seared goose liver topped over teppanyaki fried rice. quite a "healthy" serving and for about 300 bucks that's good enough for two, it's not all that bad. the tofu steak was ok, though i prefer kitaro's version more. the dynamite roll was a tad bit dry for my taste. actually, there wasn't anything "dynamite" about it. but of all we ordered, the unagi roll was by far the biggest disappointment. to start with, there wasn't much of the unagi in it to enjoy. it was dry like the dynamite and the mayo overpowered almost everything in the roll. sad really, i was so looking forward to having eel.

overall, in a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being "i will report you to the food and drug agency and have your license revoked!", and 10 being " i can see michelin stars!!!", i give john and yoko a 6.5.

there was a cohesiveness to the overall packaging of the restaurant, from the interiors to the servers to the food, offering a spin off of your typical japanese menu and giving it a very cosmopolitan twist. very good ambiance yet they definitely would need to work out some of the space issues if they want to draw in more of the snootier crowd. food is on a so-so basis since there were quite some hits and misses. the drinks were good (including the flavored yakult) but they definitely need to work on their other products. it is good that they are so far the only restaurant serving modern japanese, because if they get competition (which is very likely) then i am afraid the interiors won't be enough to keep the people coming.

OMG, i just noticed this now. what the hell is happening on the video? (see left wall)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

my humps...

allow me to be a shrink to myself....

i complain a lot. i would think that of all the things i do well, complaining is one of them. i do it so well as a matter of fact that i have elevated it to an art form. but of all the things i complain about, nothing gets me more passionate than complaining about my body. yes, my body. call me vain, call me narcissistic but i just chuck it to plain ol' human nature. despite how some people say that they are happy the way that they are, i sincerely believe if you poke around long enough, you will uncover an insecurity hidden under a seemingly well content surface.

but i know i have to learn how to curb my ranting episodes. i have to learn to make peace with the body God has cursed, i mean, blessed me with and see it in a totally new light. i have to learn to appreciate myself for what i am, not just from the outside but of what i am in the inside. because at the end of it all, isn't it what's in the inside that really counts? ...who am i kidding, i want to look like antonio sabato jr.!!!!!

since i have been slaving away, day after day at the gym, there has been one part of me that has caused me so much frustration that i really have no idea what to do about it anymore. i have already consoled myself that getting washboard abs is close to impossible. that my chances of growing a couple more inches are as slim as corruption being eradicated from my country. that having a smaller waist is like have a 0 calorie cupcake, it just can't be done. but at least this one i can have, at least this one i can achieve. but as things are going, it doesn't seem to be happening. i'm talking about my man boobs.

ok. i know they are not that big. i fortunately don't have gynecomastia, but still, it is one sorry site of my body that i can definitely live without. i work out, and i work out hard!!! but irregardless of the tonnage my trainer makes me bench press, it seems like none of the fat in my chest is dissipating. all other parts of my body seems to be responding rather well. i'm developing tone, i'm gaining bulk in all the right areas, but the flab is still there. what's the point of looking good and having great shape when u have titties jabbing out of your shirt! if you have cheeks under ur pits like hamsters hoarding food!

i just find it so unfair. you have guys in the gym who work out so little yet end up looking like chiseled greek gods. then you also have those who don't even have to work out and already look good. now here i am, busting my balls to get some hard earned results, but as you all know by now, NO RESULTS!

so, the question stands... how the freaking hell do i get rid of these hideous things!??

these!!!! not those!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


it's hard to break an old habit. not even day two into the new year and i already find myself simmering in my temper. and trust me, when i simmer, i really simmer.

been wrapping every brain cell to my disposal into this project that i am handling for my dad for the fast few weeks already since my return. despite all my worries that things might turn out like this, i still went ahead since, one, i really had nothing to do and it is good to be distracted with some form of work. and two, you can't really say no to family. so now i am here. i'm frustrated, pissed and just at a lost of what to do. i swear, having relatives as clients is just trouble waiting to happen.

it seems like almost every good idea i come up with gets shot down. more so, the "alternative" solutions proposed makes me wanna say "so why hire me in the first place? if you know so much, YOU DO IT!" i mean, i don't think that my ideas are the world's answer to famine and AIDS but hell!, i would at least think that i know what i am doing. it would be nice to feel trusted by one's family. i work on complete strangers' homes and they give me full control! this is just a small little store that DESPERATELY needs an extreme makeover! AAAAARRRGGGHHH!!!

dunno why i can't seem to shake it off. every time i look at the plan, it just pisses me off and i loose all interest in finding a common ground.

now i get called in to handle another project in selling call cards... huh? what does that have to do with me. turns out i look like i have been idle so here is "something" to keep me busy.

i think i know now why i have been forgetting a lot. i think it's because my brain is now FRIED from all the thinking i do for work. the same WORK that makes people think i'm just bumming around at home.

i just feel soooooo mad right now and i don't understand why!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

write it down

in accordance to my new year's promises, i will now start to write things down. rather, write more things down. i have been consoled to the fact that despite my size, leathery skin, a trunk and a propensity to devour kilos of peanuts in one sitting, that no, i am not an elephant. neither do i also possess their legendary memory. years of convincing that i have the brain of a savant (just that i am not socially handicapped and have definitely a more bubbly personality) or that my lapses of memory were rather lapses of attention have finally culminated to this one moment of admittance, i have been defeated.

i am not ashamed anymore to admit that i don't....
  1. remember dates, especially when they are gimmicks, parties, dinners, luncheons and other social events that would require hobnobbing and the unnecessary feather fluffing.
  2. remember birth dates, with exceptions to my brother and myself. i used to remember my parents but now i don't.
  3. remember phone numbers, with exception to my brother's and my own again. i don't bother with my parents since my dad has this awful habit of constantly changing cel numbers.
  4. remember names of people. i can never forget a face though, so that has to count for something.
  5. conversations that revolve around, or contain the topics above. i will remember the talk, but none of the contents of the exchange. like a slow-mo scene with all of their voices in a muffled slur.
i guess i had already an idea that things would turn out this way since since i started blogging (which i believe was a God-sent to episodic amnesiac like me). funny, whenever i would documents events, i would try my best to write down as much about it, despite how seemingly trivial it may be. every emotion, every thought associated to that entry had to be written out in fear that in the future, if i decide to review my life through the blog, i would still remember what exactly it was that was going through my head while i was writing it... hehehe, i'm actually doing it again now.

what's this ribbon tied on my finger for?

call me an alzheimer hypochondriac if you must. it doesn't hurt i believe to start being thorough. better now than when i'm really in big shit and can't do anything about it anymore.

on a totally different note, i have been bitten by a rather unusual "bug". i won't say so much now since i have this weird personal superstition that if i jump the gun, things won't come into fruition, so i'll keep mum about it for now. don't worry, you guys will definitely hear about it when things get finalized.

till then, happy new year again to ye all!