Sunday, June 17, 2018

Confessions Part 13: The One About Dad

Today's confession is all about my Dad because it is Fathers' Day after all. My Facebook news feed is full of Fathers' Day greetings and tributes of people I know to their own fathers both living and deceased. Sadly, my own Fathers' Day tribute now belongs to the latter category. It's been six years since I lost my Dad to cancer which came by surprise to us all when we found out and even more a surprise that the disease took him away so fast - just about a month after.

I was close to my Dad. I would even say that I was a Daddy's girl. A lot of the things that I liked are because of him. Let me just tell you a few things about him.

1. He loved reading. 

I would say that my love for reading is one of the things I got from him. I remember him having a lot of Readers Digest stacked neatly on a shelf in their room and when I was old enough to understand its contents, I would borrow from his collection and just read. My favorite part was the true stories which could be an inspirational one, a story about love or a survival story. I also liked the jokes section and the vocabulary.

When I was a teenager, my Dad used to take me to National Bookstore and Powerbooks a lot. We'd browse through different books and magazines and I'd ask him to buy me a book or two. He was the one who exposed me to reading mystery and detective story books like Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown and Choose Your Own Adventure books.

2. He loved, loved, loved movies especially the Hollywood ones.

He used to have a collection of movie VCDs and DVDs at home. In fact, watching movies was a favorite past time of ours. If there was a good movie showing in cinemas, you bet your boots we'd be watching and every night, when I get home, I would stay in their room and we'd just spend the hours watching a movie on DVD until my mom came in the room to say it was time for bed or until my Dad couldn't fight off his sleepiness anymore.

I think that my Dad could give Lorelai Gilmore a run for her money when it comes to making movie references or at least, he'd be able to relate to her quips more than I can. My earliest recollection of Dad taking me to the movies was when he took me to Greenbelt to watch the premiere of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and one of my last memories with Dad was us watching Mission Impossible 4 at Waltermart Makati which was the same day as the day we got the diagnosis from the doctors about how serious his condition was. I had to hand it to my father. If I was told I had only months to live, I don't think I would be able to bring myself to watch a movie pa. But he did.

I think if my Dad knew how to download movies and if he was still alive today, he would probably have a subscription to all the streaming sites available - Netflix, iflix, HOOQ and Fox+. I think my love for all things Hollywood is also because at such a young age, most movies I was exposed to were American made.

3. He was the strict parent.

Nope he didn't impose the no-boyfriend-until-after-College rule with me. But he was strict in a whole lot of ways! No going to the movies until College (but I did break that rule in high school! Ha! Ha!). If I was to meet my friends, I would have to ask permission days ahead and I normally had to chat him up for a while about things under the sun before I could get around to what I really wanted to say which was "Dad, could I go out with my friends?" And that comes with all the details - where; what; when; who; why. Also when I tell him I'll be home by 10PM, he's already texting me at 9:30PM to remind me and ask me where I was already. Mom's easy going. With her, it's more like "I'm going out ma. Meeting Ryan." Telling her. Not asking permission. Also usually can even do that when I'm already dressed to go out.

When I finally started entertaining guys, my Dad would always be asking me who it was I was talking to on the phone or chatting with over Yahoo Messenger. When I got a boyfriend, he would require him to pick me up at home. I used to dislike that because my then boyfriend disliked it too. He thought it was such an inconvenience that he had to go to my place first when his house was nearer the mall. I only realized as I got older that I was so wrong to dislike Dad for being so strict about that. I should have been angry at my then boyfriend for thinking what a hassle it was. I guess that's part of why he was not the right one for me.

Of course I also disliked that my Dad was so strict with me when I was growing up. I used to resent it. But again as I grew older, I began to understand where he was coming from. He was just being protective. He just wanted me to be safe of course because he loves me.     

4. My Dad was not a religious man. 

He's not. But he served God for half his adult life at church because he had good faith in Him. I remember him telling me that when my mom got sick he made a deal with God. Namanata sya. He told God if he cured my mother of cancer, he would join the people who annually does the Black Nazarene procession. But since he was claustrophobic, he didn't join the crowd instead he would walk barefoot from Quiapo to home to fulfill his end of the deal with God.

He was not a religious man but he always told me that he felt His presence in his life. He told me he knew it was God that also brought him and his father together. You see my Dad never knew his own father growing up and he had always been okay with it. But one day, it seemed like God was telling him to search for his father. Turns out, his father was sick and dying and it just seemed as though his Dad was praying to see him just before he passed away.

And even when he got sick, my Dad never blamed God. He never got angry at him or questioned Him as to why he would end up being so sick.

He touched lives when he was still alive because of his faith too. I know because there's a couple who was on the verge of splitting up then that he counselled and somehow, someway he was able to help them stay together, to remember not to give up on each other. There was also another guy who made us laugh despite our grief at church after the priest gave his final blessing of the dead. He came up to the podium, in tears just like most of us that day when we were about to bring my Dad to the crematorium, who stepped up to the microphone and said "Bakit sya pa? Marami namang iba dyan. Yung masasamang ugali." 

5. My Dad was my confidant.

I turned to my Dad for a lot of things especially for advice. When I was a kid and I was feeling lonely because I had no playmates (I wasn't allowed to go out to the streets then), my Dad told me I should use my imagination. When I had friendship troubles, he was the one I confided in him. When I graduated, he was the one who helped me look for a job. He accompanied me to every job interview, staying in nearby Mini Stops while I interviewed and when I had work troubles and worried I might never be regularized at work, he told me I would find the right job. When my boyfriend and I broke up, he was the first one I turned to. I went home crying to him and later that day, he came to my room with my favorite spaghetti from Pancake House so I could eat. He was also the one who told me there'll be other guys for me. No Mr. Right yet. But I'm sure my Dad's also helping Cupid now look for that guy.

This was us at the annual Ayala Triangle Lights and Sound Show. I have not learned how to put on make up just yet and so my eyebrows are hardly seen! Ha! Ha!

I was lucky I had a father like him in my life for 26 years. I miss him of course. And I wish we had more years together. That he'd be here to meet the guy for me and walk me down the aisle when the time comes. But I know he's in a better place now, looking down at us from Heaven.

To those who still have their Dads with them, I cannot begin to tell you how lucky you are. Treasure every moment you have with the first man in your life. Happy Fathers Day! 

Current List

Recently watched: Set It Up

Another Netflix original romcom! The story about two assistants who decide to set up their bosses so they could have a life outside the office. It's cute. Super love it. More than The Kissing Booth. I even like how they defined the difference of love and like. You like a person because... while you love a person despite of...

Also, just finished Queer Eye Season 2! What can I say? It's still fabulous! The Fab 5 did it again! And yes, still love Antoni so much and I adore Jonathan still! 

Currently listening to: Dancing on my Own by Robyn

I know it's not new. But recently just discovered it and loving it. Yes, I find it so relatable and think it's the soundtrack of my life right now.

I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh 
I'm right over here, why can't you see me, ohh 
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Confessions Part 12: The Week that Was

And so I'm back after to sharing my weekly confessions! Where do I start?

Okay, so last week felt like a long weekend for me. Our office went to a resort in Laiya, Batangas for a last summer hurrah outing. The place was real nice I must say. There was a beach of course and a pool for those of us who don't want to swim at the beach (ehem me!).  There was beach volleyball and water sports activities for those who like sports and adventures (not me!). And the surrounding was pretty - real good enough for Instagram! Guess what I did?

Anyway so last week was also the first in a long while that I decided I'd go watch the sun set by the bay. I haven't stopped to appreciate the beauty of the setting sun since the fall out but someone I know has been posting sun set photos as a photo project of his so it reminded me of the days I used to sit by the bay to stare at the sun as it set in the distance. Well... it's still a beautiful sight to see.

Still made me sad to be reminded of someone who doesn't want to be part of my life even though I feel the exact opposite but it doesn't hurt as much anymore. There is still that part holding out - that part that secretly wishes he'd look my way. I mean really look my way and see me. Not just another face in the crowd. I still secretly wish he'd call my name. I still wish he'd talk to me again. But there are things in life that you can't get right? No matter how much you want it. Alangan namang pilitin ko di ba? Anyway, I'm just going to focus my efforts on spending time with people who actually want to be part of my life.

Relationships sure are tricky. And I mean all kinds! Even friendships! Recently, a friend of mine upset me real bad due to a commitment that was broken and an expectation that was not met. That's actually why I didn't get to blog last week. My emotions were at an all time high in a negative way and I knew that if I sat down and blogged that day as I usually do now on Sundays, nothing good will come out of it. I'm much calmer now as I have come to accept that it is how it is. Sometimes, people will disappoint you. Sometimes they'll hurt you whether they mean to or not and it's up to you how you'll deal with it. I know I've done my fair share of letting people down and hurting them too. In the case of my friend, I chose to forgive and move on.

Current List

Recent read: After Eden by Arnold Arre

It's been sitting on my desk for a couple of months now so finally about two weeks ago, I finally decided to read it! I only got to finish it yesterday though all thanks to this nonstop rainfall that's been going on since Friday that forced me to finally stay at home!

And so that puts another dent to my 2018 GoodReads Challenge. I have read 6 books out of the 12 books that I pledged to read this year. Also that brings me to my next current...

New blog post: What happens After Eden

After Eden is actually my first local graphic novel. It was given to me by a former work colleague who now (or is it used to by now?) works in the publishing house that carries this book. She asked me and Maila to write a review about it on our blog. Well since I was just at home yesterday, I figured I'd sit down and finally write that review. So you know, if you want to know what After Eden is all about and what I thought of it, click on the link above to take you to that blog post.

Streaming: Gilmore Girls rerun mostly 

I just love how the characters in this show talk especially Lorelai! It's my must-watch show every morning these days before going to work. When I first watched this show way back my teen years, I used to root for Lorelai and Christopher. But now, I'm really all for Luke. I now see how he is really the right guy for her. As for Rory, well, there's no changing my mind about being Team Jess! I wish Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino gave Rory and Jess another chance at love when they made Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I do not like that ending - that Rory ends up pregnant and a single mom! Full circle my foot! Rory deserved a better ending than that. I'd hold out for another season of A Year in the Life where Rory and Jess finally get that second chance at love but I read that the way that show ended was exactly how she envisioned it would.

But it's not to say I didn't watch anything else on Netflix recently! Actually, I watched The Italian Job. Charlize Theron so gorgeous! Mark Wahlberg sooo hot! That whole movie - an exciting watch. I know it's old but I didn't like action films back then. These days, while it's still not my first choice for a movie, I can be persuaded to watch one now.

Also watched Alex Strangelove which is a Netflix original film. It's a coming out movie of a high school guy who finally embraces his sexuality. I thought it was funny and nicely done. I could only relate to that part about Clare liking a guy who turns out to be gay because I briefly had a crush on a gay guy!  Luckily for me though, I didn't end up being in a relationship with the guy before realizing why we just couldn't be! Well I think now my gaydar is stronger so I can easily avoid going down the same road twice. What needs improvement is my asshole radar though so I can also stay away from guys who would bring me nothing but heartache.  

Anyway watch the trailer here:

Another film I recently streamed? Straight Outta Compton. This is a biographical film about the rise and fall of gangsta rap group called N.W.A (Niggas with Attitude). Most notable members of the group are Dr. Dre (yes that Dre of Beats by Dre) and Ice Cube (rapper, writer and now actor). The film was actually a box office hit when it came out in theaters back in 2015. It was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Also the movie soundtrack which featured music by N.W.A debuted at no. 1 on Rap Album charts and became no. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop charts. I'm not a fan of rap music but I have to say Fuck the Police was real catchy.

Anyway here's the official trailer of that:



Saturday, June 9, 2018

What Happens After Eden?

Love is always sweet in the beginning. But what happens to your world after you leave Eden?

This is the question that the story of graphic novel, After Eden, posed to its readers. If you've ever met someone and fallen in love, then you know that love can send you into a blissful state wherein you might feel like there's nothing you couldn't do especially when you're together and nothing and no one can ruin the happiness you feel especially at the beginning of the relationship.

That's how Jon and Celine felt when the two childhood friends meet again and get into a whirlwind romance. Suddenly their lives had color and more meaning to it. But keeping the love alive and getting their  relationship to last did not come without its challenges with angels and demons wagering who gets to control the world with the outcome of their relationship and their friends, Mike, Greg, Lea and Cathy not caring much for their new relationship as well. They wanted the old status quo back and they wanted their friends to stop playing matchmaker with them. So they conspire with each other to put Jon and Celine's relationship to the test.

After Eden by award-winning comic creator Arnold Arre is one of his earliest works. In fact, my friend, Ryan, told me when I posted a story on IG about me reading this graphic novel, that he remembers reading this in the school library back in College. He loved the story. And you know I did too - this 2016 version at least because I have not read the first edition. 

I like how creatively titled this was: After Eden. A colleague of mine asked me why it's called After Eden and I actually wondered that too when I first got a copy of this graphic novel. The garden of Eden is used as a metaphor for love. Eden being the wonderful place created by God for Adam and Eve where they know nothing but joy and life's simplicity. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and banished from Eden, they are introduced to life's hardships and negative emotions just like how one would feel when you break up with someone you love. 

It's a very relatable story as it's so close to reality. I think that's what I liked about After Eden the most. I felt the kilig as I followed Jon and Celine's blossoming romance and I felt so sad when they broke up.

I have to say I also liked Greg and Lea's story which is more of the more-you-hate-the-more-you-love kind. They cracked me up with their fights. But I also like how the story shows that while it seemed they were the kind of people who didn't care for love, they would find that they just didn't know better until love came knocking on their own doors. 

These are some of the lines from After Eden that struck me:

Love is the biggest mystery of the universe. But why try to solve it when one can simply view it for what it is and marvel at the wonders and strangeness it brings?

I was once a sleeping child. But now I've opened my eyes. I chose to walk the path of ignorance and  this is the price I must pay. I was seduced by all the songs and all the poems about love being a magical place. So I entered. I saw in that place a castle in the clouds. And a price waiting for me at the gate. He brings me a magical forest. H kisses my hand and we dance till dawn breaks. But no there is no prince. No magical forest. No castle. There are no such things. I was once a sleeping child but now I've opened my eyes. Love songs have lost their meaning. Sunsets their beauty. The stars have grown tired of shining. The flowers have all wilted. There's no more dancing. No more evening walks. No more staring at the clouds. No more wishing on the moon. No more birds flying overhead. No more soft whispers. No more laughter. No more embraces. No more. No more.

Out there is a season for you, but you'll only meet it once. It stays for a while, then goes away. So don't lose it. Hold on to it. Never let it go. Let it know that it's loved. Let it know that you long for it.  Because when you do it will have finally found a home. And you'll always have that season in your heart no matter what time of the year it is. Catch the season. Don't look for a reason. 

Maybe you've fallen in love and had your heart broken; maybe you're in a happy relationship right now; or maybe you're still waiting for love to come knocking at your door. In any case, I think you'll enjoy reading this graphic novel. Yes it's sappy and cheesy but well I'm hopeless romantic so... Seriously though, I recommend After Eden. You won't regret it. 

After Eden is available in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Books of the Month: Time of My Life, Postcard Killers and Cocktails for Three

As soon as summer kicked in, I found myself feeling the desire to sit down and read. In fact, I finished two books in March: Cecilia Ahern's Time of My Life and Judy Blume's Forever and two books in April: James Patterson's Postcard Killers and Madeleine Wickham's Cocktails for Three.

Now I'm finally sitting down to share my thoughts on the three other books I finished reading.  

The Postcard Killers

This is my first James Patterson novel lent by someone I know from the gym. Although I know of James already because of the Alex Cross novels that have been adapted to a movie - which I loved by the way - Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider

The Plot
The story centers on NYPD detective Jacob Kanon who's on a tour of Europe's most gorgeous cities. But it's not the sights that draw him in. He sees every cathedral, cafe and museum through his daughter's eyes. His daughter Kimmy and her boyfriend were murdered during their vacation in Rome and since then young couples around Europe have been found dead. The only connection of the murders is a postcard sent to the local newspaper precedent of each new victim.  Kanon teams up with Swedish reporter, Dessie Larsson who receives a postcard from Stockholm and they think they know where the next victims will be. 

My two cents:

I loved this book. I found it to be a thrilling read. The Postcard Killers reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde and as I followed the story through their perspective, I kept thinking to myself how twisted they were! Twisted but good. They committed a series of murders without the police catching up to them until Kanon that is. 

Kanon's probably a really good detective since he was the only one who could see the pattern. Didn't care much for Dessie though. In my head, I pictured I imagined who would play Sylvia and Mac Rudolph, the killers in a movie. 

Sydney Sweeney as Sylvia

Elijah Stevenson as Mac 

Both were actors in now cancelled, Netflix original throwback to the 90's film, Everything Sucks. They're both good looking just as The Postcard Killers were described in the novel and I liked them together in that film. They had chemistry. 

But a quick search on Google and I found out on IMDb that it's actually going to be turned into a film already called The Postcard Killings. Patrick Dempsey is set to play Jacob Kanon and Brittany Robertson from Netflix's GirlBoss is set to play Dessie. It's still in pre-production according to what I read but Liza Marklund, the co-author of the book is also writing the screenplay. I can't wait to see this crime thriller come to life! 

  Cocktails for Three 

This is my first Madeleine Wickham novel. Most people know her by her pen name, Sophie Kinsella. Surprised? Yup! Me too! I thought it was the other way around - Sophie being her real name and Madeleine her pen name. Anyway, her writing style in this book is far, far, far different from her style as Kinsella, writing novels such as the Shopaholic series. As Wickham, her characters are more mature. I didn't find myself being amused by the heroines of this book thinking about how silly adorable they are like I would have if this was a Kinsella novel and I know because I've read a lot of Kinsella books! 

The Plot

It's about three savvy young women who share secrets they own over monthly cocktails. Roxanne is a glamorous and confident woman but she has a secret lover who's a married man. Maggie is a capable and high achieving woman who finds herself with one thing she can't cope with - motherhood. Candice is honest and decent until a ghost from her past shows up. 

The story about Candice reminded me of the movie, Single, White, Female except there was no psychotic killer in this book. Just a vengeful one. Roxanne's story was the one I liked the least because well, confident and glamorous and yet she's in love with a man she can't have. I guess for me it's all black and white. If you love someone, you will be with her so I never understood why her secret lover just couldn't do that and still she stayed. If it was real love, then why was she kept a secret? As for Maggie, well I would have to say her life was is #goals. She had a successful career and a supportive husband. 

My two cents:
Anyway I liked it because of its depth and realism. The problems these women faced were very much relatable. I loved how it showed that even when the three women faced different struggles of their own, they still came through for one another when the need came. 

Will I read another Wickham novel? That is most likely. But I think it's safe to say that I still prefer her light and amusing novels as Sophie Kinsella. 

The Time of My Life

This is my first Cecelia Ahern novel. You might know her from her novel turned movie, Love Rosie. 

The Plot: (from GoodReads)

Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her life – and she’s going to have to keep it.

Lying on Lucy Silchester’s carpet one day when she returns from work is a gold envelope. Inside is an invitation – to a meeting with Life. Her life. It turns out she's been ignoring it and it needs to meet with her face to face.

It sounds peculiar, but Lucy’s read about this in a magazine. Anyway, she can’t make the date: she’s much too busy despising her job, skipping out on her friends and avoiding her family.

But Lucy’s life isn’t what it seems. Some of the choices she’s made – and stories she’s told – aren’t what they seem either. From the moment she meets the man who introduces himself as her life, her stubborn half-truths are going to be revealed in all their glory – unless Lucy learns to tell the truth about what really matters to her.

My Two Cents

Can you imagine having your life pay you a visit and to find out that the manifestation of your life is a disgusting, smelly old guy? That was Lucy's life. Reading this book made me reflect about life. 

I know some of us have the tendency to live on auto pilot mode. You know how it is - just going through the motions, never really acting on anything. Sleep. Eat. Go to work or school. Go home. Eat. Lose yourself browsing social media or watching TV. Sleep again. Repeat the following day. You're comfortable and safe in your own little bubble. But really you're dead inside. It's not the best way to live at all. I mean, if you look back in your life, would you be able to say you lived your best years? 

A few years ago, I found myself living an auto pilot mode kind of life. I was working and going out with friends after work. On the weekends, I would either go out again with the same set of friends or lose myself in front of the TV at home. I repeated that everyday and I was okay with it because I was comfortable. I guess if my life paid me a visit too back then I'd also probably be shock to find a stinky old guy as well. But thankfully, there's a leadership program I joined a few years ago that made me realize that really was not the way to go.  

This book is a good read. I think it will also make you reflect on your own life and make you want to grabbing life by the balls as they say.  

So those are my books of the month (BOM) and as it turns out, they're a series of firsts for me! They're also not going to be the last novels I'd be reading from these authors. As for my 2018 GoodReads Challenge, well I'm now four books down. Eight more to reach my 12 books goal for the year. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Confessions Part 11: The One about the New Find

Yesterday evening, I found myself at Salcedo Village in Makati again. I realized it's been so long since I went to the area because there had been quite a few significant changes. There were condos now in the area, specifically in Valero and new restaurants! One of those new restaurants is Nono's which I got to know because that's where I had dinner with my friends last night.

Nono's by Chef Baba of Classic Confections describes itself as comfort food done right which is perfect because Ryan was looking for comfort food that night. It's a newly opened resto in Salcedo Village with white interiors and wood and marble furniture, making the place bright and beautiful to look at. Also picture worthy!

As for the food, I would say it's a bit expensive - prepare to shell out Php300-500 - but it's worth it. The servings are big so you can share.


We tried two of their soups - the Japanese Corn Chowder and Roasted Pumpkin. Both are good but I loved the latter more. It's so creamy! And we also ordered Grilled Pork, Pesto pasta with Grilled Chicken and Tomato and Basil pasta with Pan Seared Fish Fillet. All of them I would say were really good. The pork meat was tender enough to chew without straining your jaw and teeth even when it was cold. The mashed potato that came with it was good too. The pesto pasta was creamy in taste and together with the grilled chicken, it was a treat to my taste buds. But I loved the tomato and basil the most. The dory fish meat was soft and when you squeeze the lemon on it, it adds a little something more to the taste. I wasn't too crazy for the parmesan cheese on it though as it made it a bit tangy for my taste.Ryan said you could tell it was the real kind of dory fish and not the manufactured one.

Our taste buds were delighted and our tummies were definitely full. It was a great new discovery that I'd love to come back to again and again next time with dessert.
Yesterday was also Trendsetter's Bazaar in SMX, Mall of Asia. I was just going to accompany Ryan and Dom there. But I ended up buying a couple of items at the bazaar - a fur white rug (you know the kind that other bloggers use) that I'll be using for my flat lay photos and a couple of cute earrings that cost only Php150 for two!

Oh and today I had another shopping find: L'Oreal Paris Elseve Extraordinary Oil. I was intrigued and hooked when I read at the back of the packaging that not only could I use it before shampoo to intensely nourish my hair but I could also use it before blow drying to protect or as a finishing touch for a sumptuous softness and luxurious shine. I always blow dry my hair after taking a bath and I know that subjecting it to heat everyday is not good for my already thin hair. That's actually why I'm always on the look out for hair products that can help me smoothen it, lessen the frizz and dryness and basically just protect it. I've had my eyes on My Amazing Blowdry, which promises to protect my hair from the heat of the hair tools, for awhile now but I keep hesitating to buy it because it's expensive. It costs around Php1000+. But this nifty drugstore find is only Php250! I hope it does the job it promises to do.

Current List

Listening to: Alternating between Sugarfree and Eraserheads. I'm planning to watch Ang Huling El Bimbo the musical play so I thought I'd listen to E-heads songs again.

Check out the cast of Ang Huling El Bimbo singing the song of the same title.

New blog post: Finally blogged about my trip to the beautiful and scenic Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. Yay! Read about that here

Want to buy: New comics 

I've been visiting Fully Booked a lot lately! I so want to buy Archie Comics again. It's been a long while since I last bought one! And there are so many new ones to buy like the Americana series and Jughead volume 3. I also want to buy Paper Girls Vol. 3 and 4. But all that are wants for now because I do have a lot of things I want to buy and I'm putting these in the bottom priority for now since I have a lot of books and comics to read pa!

Nono's by Classic Confections Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Travel Diary: Beautiful and Scenic Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar has been on my list of places to go to since I saw a promo on this on Deal Grocer. That list has been growing through the years with Las Casas never getting crossed off. It's not that I never tried to make plans to go. I've asked friends to go. I've even researched the room rates there because Las Casas is in Bataan and it's about four hours away from Manila one way. Super paguran yun and I'm not the willing type to subject myself to such kind of travel.

But finally! This year I finally got to go to Las Casas! Special thanks to  the MOA Ferry that has cut travel time to Bataan from 4 hours to 50 minutes! One way fare is Php450 if you book online. You could walk in but that's going to cost you double.

Meet my travel buddies - Dom and Ryan. I'm the forever third wheel in this scenario. Oh well. I'd have loved to go here with my own boyfriend too but the guy is currently not available. Still it was fun and I could not have picked better travel buddies for this trip because they both are great with the camera so photos galore!

The whole trip going there took us about two hours since the ferry stops at Orion Port and Las Casas is in Bagac. There was a shuttle waiting for us at the port which took us to the terminal where we could ride a jeep. The initial plan was to ride a jeep then a tricycle to get to our destination but the jeepney barker told us we didn't have to do so anymore as the jeep could take us - we just needed to pay a fare of Php80 each. Good thing too because that was an additional 1 hour. I think if we went with our original plan, we might not been as comfortable while traveling.

Entrance fee to Las Casas is Php2000 which is inclusive of a heritage tour, river cruise, visit to the Hotel de Oriente, kalesa ride and Php500 consumable food. You can also swim at their man made pool and the beach. With all these things inclusive in the fee plus just looking at how beautiful the whole place is, so picture worthy, I think that rate is very worth it.

Being at Las Casas made me feel like I've traveled back in time - back to old Manila, specifically during the Spanish era. It was a hot summer day when we went here. Day tour during Labor Day holiday. Considering we live in a tropical country and the weather is unpredictable, you might want to bring things that will help you fight off the heat most especially like sun block, facial mist and umbrella. Also best to wear comfy shoes because the heritage tour involves a lot of walking though that's just about an hour and then the rest of the tour you're free to roam around and do what you please.

The heritage tour is where you get to explore various Spanish-Filipino heritage houses (some are replicas and some actually transported to Las Casas!) and each house has a story to tell. I enjoyed that tour because I love learning and re-learning about history. There's just so much to know! And some you wouldn't find out from history books.

For instance, at Casa Binan, the replicated house of Teodora Alonzo (our national hero, Jose Rizal's mother), our tour guide told us about the scandalous history of Teodora Formosa, the wife of Rizal's mom's brother. Teodora Alonzo's sister-in-law was locked in a room in the house by her father-in-law because she was believed to be having an affair with the captain of the civil guards. Later on, Formosa had Rizal's mom in jail because she accused the latter of poisoning her. A couple of years later, when Teodora Alonzo forgot to use her Spanish surnmae Realonzo, she was again punished by the Spanish by making her walk fifty miles. That incident served as Rizal's inspiration for Sisa, one of the characters in his revolutionary novel, Noli Me Tangere.

At Casa Baliwag Uno, I found out that back in the day, when guests come knocking at the door, the people living in the house would first peep in a hole on the floor at the top of their house to see who it was. If the guest is welcome, a string is pulled to open the door to let the visitor in but if it turns out to be someone unwelcome, they'd pour water or more disgusting, urine is poured over the head of the guest from above.

I was too busy listening to our guide and taking in the surroundings in each heritage house that I didn't get to take photos. Ryan and Dom stayed behind after going to a couple of heritage houses since they were not much fans of walking in the heat or going up and down heritage houses and oh Ryan also got a foot blister so...

Anyway after the heritage tour, we went around to explore the area. Naturally, with a place as beautiful and scenic as Las Casas, we had to take lots of photos!


We took the river cruise after lunch. Lunch while good was I have to say expensive. But anyway we had a total of Php1,500 to consume so we didn't spend much for food. Only about Php200 extra if I remember correctly since the food is also good for sharing. It's a short river cruise and yes the heat of the sun was pretty cruel but no matter. We were determined to enjoy and savor our trip to Las Casas.

There was a foreigner couple who took the river cruise with us but we didn't let that stop us from posing for the camera. It's for the 'gram you know.

Every nook and cranny of Las Casas I have to say is picture worthy. Even when it's just an alleyway.

Hotel de Oriente was the last stop of our Las Casas tour. In 1889, it was considered to be one of the most luxurious hotels to be found in Binondo, Manila. Why was it considered luxurious? It had a phone and electricity - both rare things back then. Now both comes easy to us because now we don't only have a phone, we have smartphones! And almost everywhere you go now in the Philippines, there's electricity (I know there are still some far flung places in the country that Meralco has yet to install electricity at) and when brownouts occur, we're beside ourselves how to pass the time.

The hotel is as picturesque as the rest of the place.

At the end of that trip, I was ready to come back to Manila to rest but I came home happy for crossing off Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar from my bucketlist. Finally! Although I would love to come back and stay the night because there are some things happening at night like a cultural show. I would have wanted to watch that but we needed to go since we had to catch the bus going home. The aircon bus fare was only Php200 and throughout the four hour trip, I was wide awake even though I was tired. I didn't sleep because 1) I was on a separate seat from my friends (the bus could only accommodate 2 people per seat) and didn't want to sleep while seated beside a stranger;  2)I wanted to just savor in the view from the window as I let my mind drift far away.

It was definitely a tiring trip but it was definitely fun. I would say it was a short holiday break well spent.     

What I Wore to this Trip:

Dress from ForMe
Earrings from a bazaar
Shoes from Payless
Bag from Long Champ

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Confessions Part 10: The One About the Status Check

May is almost done and summer is about to come to a close. Time flies sure flies, right? But who's keeping check?

Well... I am. I can say that this month's been about crossing things off my bucket list. After years of wanting to go, I finally got to explore Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan (watch out for my blog post on that!) and watched Sa Wakas The Musical, a play based on Sugarfree songs which I've been thinking about seeing since last year but never got to until now!

I tried to also visit the National Museum of Natural History over the weekend with my friend, Mai Ann. Unfortunately, we found there's a snaking line to the entrance and we have no patience for such. We revisited instead the other building of National Museum, the one that houses Juan Luna's Spolarium. Still a wonderful sight to see even though it's been my third time to see it. If you haven't seen it, go visit National Museum. Entrance is free anyway. Just you know, go there to appreciate the exhibits and not just take photos for the sake of the 'gram. 

But yeah, I did take one #OOTD shot during my visit. Just one because I wasn't really feeling like posing and smiling for the camera.

With May almost to a close, it also means it's been a month since the fall out. It's been a month of no talking. No acknowledging each other. I can't say I like it but I'm dealing with it because I think this is the new reality. Months and years might pass and we're never going to have the kind of relationship we had before. I wish we could rekindle of course. I thought what we had was almost a friendship.

Anyway, let me just move on to my currents because I have a few things I wanna rave about!

Current List

Recommended Watch: Sa Wakas The Musical

This is a play about the bittersweet story of a couple's failed relationship based on Sugarfree's songs. The play tells the story of their crushing breakup to the beginning of their starry eyed relationship. When I told Ryan about me wanting to catch this play, he looked at me in surprise and said "I didn't know you liked Sugarfree." Well I do. I don't know all their songs but I do love Kung Ayaw Mo Na Sa Akin; Kwarto; Hari ng Sablay and Makita Kang Muli.

Anyway so I got lucky that this play came back this year and I told myself I wasn't going to miss it this time around. So last Wednesday, I went to Circuit Makati to catch the play. Watch it! It's really an awesome play. There's still time. Last run of the show is on May 27. The one I saw was with Vic Robinson as Topper, the lead guy. I highly enjoyed his performance.

Also another recommended watch: The Kissing Booth

Actually I watched this Netflix original film last week about a girl who develops a secret romance with her best friend's big brother and is faced with the dilemma of telling her best friend or not about it. It's cute actually. And the big brother, Noah Flynn is a hottie!

Watching: Brooklyn Nine Nine

I'm four seasons late to the game I know! I mean it had been cancelled and saved by another station and I've only just started watching. It's so funny! I adore Jake Peralta and am rooting for him and Amy Santiago. Nobody tell me whether they get together in the latter seasons please! I want to find out for myself! 

Listening to: Moving Parts by Trixie Mattell

I don't watch Ru Paul's Drag Race but Ryan does. He asked me to listen to this song because he said I would so relate to the lyrics. He was so right.

No one gave a warning to the breaking of your heart. Pick up all the pieces and go back to the start. 

It's a country song about moving on. It means that even though there's a piece of you that's broken, you can still get through life when there are all the other parts of you that's still there, intact. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Judy Blume's Forever: Remembering Firsts

I read somewhere that every girl should read a Judy Blume book as they grow up. She just got it - the things adolescent girls go through - hormones, boys, love and periods. My first encounter with Judy Blume was back in College when I found a book written by her called Summer Sisters though that one was an adult novel. Forever is my first adolescent Judy Blume book. It was one of my book hauls at the Big Bad Wolf Books event.


The plot: Katherine and Michael meet at a party. The attraction is instant and pretty soon they're going out - and making out. This is love, and love is forever - right? But love isn't simple - and when Katherine's parents make them spend the summer apart, forever begins to feel like an awfully long time... 

Forever is a classic novel of first love, first sex and first heartbreak. While I am past my teenage years, I still appreciated this book. It's so relatable! It made me look back at my own teenage years, more specifically my first brush with love. 

I met him through text chat. Feature phones like Nokia 3310 were cool back then and there was no Facebook. Some text message exchanges and a few phone calls and we decided to meet. I was initially interested in someone else - his friend but after awhile, I found myself having more frequent phone conversations, text messages and chats on Yahoo Messenger with him and looking forward to them. I found myself falling in love for the first time. 

Michael stopped the car and kissed me again. "You're delicious," he said.  No boy had ever told me that. - This line from the book brought me back to my first kiss. It was inside a movie house with a James Bond film, Die Another Day. He asked if he could kiss me and I nodded. I remember feeling all giddy with excitement and nervousness that I was about to get my first real kiss that day! I didn't know how it would feel like but I so wanted to know if it was as they described it in the books that I've read. I read a lot of Love Stories novels back then!    

And like Katherine in the book, my parents thought I was getting too involved with a guy too soon especially my Dad! So yeah, when they voiced out their disapproval, I rebelled because in my mind back then, I was thinking they just don't want to see me happy in love! Typical teenage angst. Ha! Ha! 

Eventually they got around to accepting that I had a boyfriend. We lasted for four years actually.  I remember buying him cards for our monthsaries, him giving me stuff toys and Silverworks bracelet as gifts and celebrating our anniversary at a "fancy" restaurant - it was more like Chef D' Angelo but when you're students living on allowance, that was as fancy as it could. I remembered loving the feeling of having someone as a constant plus one. We watched a lot of movies on date days back then!  

But as the years went by and he talked about future plans like settling down with me, having kids and building our home, I found that the once intense feelings of love were no longer as strong as before. I started to think what else or who else was out there. So needless to say, we broke up. He found another girl and I remember running home to my Dad that day bawling my eyes out as I told him about our break up. My first heartbreak. I thought it'd take me forever to move on from that heartbreak because during that time, it just hurt so much. 

It's years later now and I can actually just look back at those times and smile and sometimes laugh at myself because I was so naive! I thought that because I loved him and he loved me and we've been together for years, we were supposed to stay together for the rest of our lives. I'd never regret my first love. He taught me a lot about love. 
Judy Blume's Forever may have been set in the '70s but it's still as relevant as ever, even now, in the year 2018. It's a wonderful read. It'll make you laugh, reminisce and go "aww" as you travel down memory lane, remembering your own firsts.  



Confessions Part 9: The One About Mom

Since it's Mother's Day today, I thought I'd tell you guys five things about my mom.

1) She's a great cook.

In fact people love her cooking so much, it's brought her a continuous stream of food orders for small gatherings. Her specialty is sotanghon. I want to cook food as delicious as she does. But eh, I'm such a lazy girl in the kitchen. I've tried several times in the past to cook with her supervision. They've turned out good naman. But I'm weak on follow up so here I am, still just wishing I could cook as well as my mother.

2) When it comes to gifts, chocolates are the best bet.

My Dad always said he has a tough time picking out a gift for my mom for special occasions - birthdays, anniversaries or Christmas. She's appreciative of the gift gesture but the question is always more like will she use it? I didn't believe Dad's claim so much until I experienced it firsthand. It was our first Mother's Day celebration after my father's passing and I wanted to pass on Dad's tradition of giving my mom a gift so I bought her a bouquet of roses. She said thank you but also told me 'sayang yung pera' because flowers wilt and die anyway. Fail, yes?

It took awhile but I discovered chocolates are the best bet for her. I'm not big on chocolates so whenever someone gave me chocolates, I ended up giving them to mom. Her face lights up in real delight whenever that happens. So you know what I gave her this Mother's Day? You bet! Chocolates!

3) She hates being late to church.

Sunday church is sacred for my mother so being late to mass is a big no-no. From all these years that I've been going to mass with her, I know that so well but to be honest, I still fail at waking up early to prepare for church often. I get this rude awakening on Sunday morning (that'd be mom banging on the door of my room consistently) and then she'd reprimand me for being late while she waits for me to finish drinking my coffee up 'til we get to church.

It's such a stressful way to start Sunday morning I know. Trying to be more responsible now by setting an alarm so that Sunday morning won't suck for me. I can't blame her for not wanting to be late to church. It is the only time God's asking from us, isn't it? An hour of time on a Sunday.

4) My mother just recently joined the online world and loving it.

She's not a very tech savvy person. In fact, for the longest time, the only gadget she's owned was a feature phone. Then I bought her her first smartphone and got her on Facebook and now she's constantly chatting with her friends on Messenger, sharing photos and quotes and whathaveyou on her feed, exchanging comments and just recently she's started watching IWantTV on her tablet every night until she falls asleep. I introduced that to her 'cos I got tired of my mom always rushing to get home to catch her favorite soap opera on TV whenever we go out. This way, she can catch it online and find out what happened on her favorite show the same night it aired on TV.

5) My mother can't wait for me to a)have a boyfriend 2)settle down and 3)have kids

When I turned 18, on my debut party, she gave a speech as the mother of the debutante. You know what she said? She said she didn't want me to grow up so fast. That I was still her baby. Oh boy! That narrative sure has change. Now a decade after, she's been bugging me to find a man I can call my own. In fact, she'd tried to play cupid for me before without my consent! Thankfully, she learned to listen to her daughter that I was going to find my own guy, my own way at my own time. I haven't found one though! And so my mother keeps bugging me still.   

But yeah, I love my mother to bits! She's my rock.

Current List

Loving: Our new 32" W60D series Sony Bravia smart TV

Before this, we owned a box TV. I know! So old already! But it was working so... Well it's not working now. It finally conked out on us a couple of months back. Mom kept telling me we should buy a new TV but I've been putting it off. Until she finally told me she was getting a new TV with or without me.

And so we looked and we bought. That had to be the easiest transaction that sales guy ever had to make. Not a lot of questions except 1) What kind of cards are accepted and 0% interest 12 months at least? and 2)Can we watch Netflix with that?

Oh yes, so wonderful to watch movies and TV series now on a big screen rather than my laptop. It'll never be the same again. It makes me want to buy a LazBoy next to really level up my binge watching experience!

Liking: Aztec clay mask

Nicole, my friend from work, gave me a small bottle filled with Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask a couple of months ago. People were raving about this. Finally, today, I got around to making a mask for a pamper me time.

It's true. You'd feel your face pulsating as the clay mask dries up. But after washing it off, I honestly felt like my pores cleared up and could breathe. My face looks a little brighter. A little. Perhaps with continued use, I'll see more of a change. But yeah, first impression? Definitely liked the mask!

Thankful for: The long weekend

It's a break from the daily hustle and bustle. After I vote, the rest of the day tomorrow or rather later this morning is mine to do anything I please. Guess what I'll be doing? Netflix!!!

But yeah, tomorrow we cast our votes for community leaders. Let's all choose carefully. Choose people whose intentions for running are to serve the people not themselves. The country is in a shitty state right now politics wise. Let's not drag it any further down the ground by not taking the time to think through the officials we're electing in to position even at a barangay level. Remember, small changes can still have a ripple effect.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Travel Diary: Discovering Guimaras Island

As I stared out the port where the motor boats that will take us to Guimaras Island, I felt the uneasy feeling I felt when we were about to go on our island hopping adventure in Islas de Gigantes again. Thankfully, the feeling didn't last long as the trip is only 15 minutes short, the water was calm and we had the whole boat to ourselves because we rented it.

Just like Islas de Gigantes, Guimaras Island is visited by both local and foreign tourists for its picturesque beaches. It's also famous for its mangoes, one of the sweetest in the world.

One of the places we visited during our trip to the island is the Guisi Lighthouse. There's a Spanish colonial lighthouse in the place but more than that really, what I loved about this place was the beautiful seascape.

The plan in Guimaras was to hit the beach and swim. But it's not something we were able to do. More of posing for the camera lang. At one point in our trip, the driver of the van we rented to take around the island stopped by in the middle of the road and pointed towards a blank space area where only grasses were around. We were told it was overlooking. Overlooking what exactly? Well that was actually also my question but you know, no matter. We went over to the area anyway and let our imagination loose as we took photos.

I mean, the place is still very nice for photos right? Nice blue sky in the background. I pretended I'm in Arizona in these photos. Kinda looks that way to me.

If you ever were in the area, you should try the mango pizza at Pitstop. Yes, mangoes on pizza. I know, sounds weird! Some people are weirded out with pineapples on pizza already. Imagine mangoes? I liked pineapple on pizza but I honestly was hesitant with mangoes on pizza.

Tried it anyway because I was hungry. One bite into this and it was love! It's seriously sweet but not overpoweringly so because of the cheese! I wish I could have brought one home back to Manila with me.

Us the happy diners outside the restaurant. Our van driver was the one who recommended this place to us actually so kudos to him!

I think this was the highlight for me of our Guimaras trip. I wish we were able to actually find a beach to swim at because the resorts we were taken at were reminiscent of Laguna resorts - packed with people and noisy. Not exactly our idea of a beach getaway.

So that wraps up my trip to Guimaras Island and the entire Iloilo adventure. More of my Iloilo travel adventure in the city, Garin Farm and Gigantes Islands on my previous blog posts.