Monday, October 29, 2018

What Happy Looks Like Vol. 14

Been dealing with a personal stressful situation that's been going on for weeks now (here's looking at you, PLDT) and so I haven't gone on to list down the happy things in my life lately. But here's to getting back on track so I don't let the negativity of the stressful situations of life get to me too much.

1. Finally got my Leo Mazzotti bracelets

I ordered them online a couple of months back and since it's from abroad, it's taken quite awhile to get here. I've just about given up on it actually. They're just so cute so I had to buy. If you like 'em, use my Instagram name (@piecesofliz) on the checkout cart to get 10% off.

2. Got a new credit card

Yay! Just in time for HK too! Well it's just gonna be for emergency back up. Not gonna be careless with swiping plastic this time around.

3.  Found out that this week is a two-day work week! 

I'm ready for a long weekend of rest and relaxation. So, so ready.

4. Got to attend an art exhibit opening over the weekend. 

I'm no art connoisseur but I can appreciate a good work of art. Also that was a first for me. I feel so cultured! 😆

5. Finally getting to taste Starbucks famous autumn season drink, Pumpkin Spice Latte

It's sooooo delicious! Try it out! You won't regret it. 


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House

The month of October means Halloween! So it's not a surprise that scary shows are aplenty! In fact, I just found out SM Cinema is holding a scary movie flick fest called #SineSindakatSMCinema. Eight (8) movies from all over the world will be shown and you can watch them all for only Php199 all day pass for all eight films. Scary movie marathon anyone?😊 

But if you prefer to watch scary shows at home (in the dark with nothing but the light from your computer screen or TV illuminating the room), well why not? Streaming sites such as Netflix has a number of best for Halloween shows that may or may not scare the crap out of you. One of these shows - which I've been seeing all over my Facebook newsfeed - is The Haunting of Hill House. 'Tis the season for scary flicks after all so I checked it out for myself and here's what I can tell you about it. 

Image result for the haunting of hill house netflix

What it's about

It's the story of a family, the Crains, who temporarily moves into the old Hill House mansion together with their five children: Steven, Shirley, Theodora (Theo) and the twins Eleanor (Nell) and Luke on the summer of 1992. When they start to experience paranormal events happening in the house and suffer from a tragic loss, they are forced to move out of the house. The story shifts from telling the family's stay in Hill House Mansion to decades later, after they've moved out and far from the haunted mansion.  

What I liked

It's a 10 episode series and not just a two hour scary film because it's more than just a Netflix show meant to scare the wits out of you. To be honest, at first I was starting to get bored with all the bickering among the characters but as the layers of the story unfolded, I found myself becoming hooked until I finished the entire series. I retired to bed at 3 in the morning last Friday to finish this. 

The Haunting of Hill House is not just about a family dealing with paranormal events in a very old and very isolated mansion but it's also full of family drama from children dealing with their estranged parent; money issues among siblings and drugs to name a few. You're not just going to scared. You're going to be intrigued to know more. But it has it scary moments. Wait for Episode 5: The Bent-Neck Lady and Episode 6: Two Storms.      

1) Hotness Alert 

I would like to just say the Crain family had good looking hotties among them. Case in point, my girl crush, bad ass lesbian, middle child, Theodora or Theo for short played by Kate Siegel. She's very pretty, isn't she? But she's also the tough and brave one among the five Crain children. She's the one who's not afraid (or maybe she is) to go down the depths of a secret cellar, a basement and the workroom of Harris Funeral Home - her older sister, Shirley and her husband's business side of the residence. She defends the helpless like her brother, Luke, whose parents didn't want to believe him when he said he saw a scary creature in the bootleg cellar. 

And then there's Luke Crain played by Oliver Jackson Cohen. Sure he's all messed up and he's a junkie - you'd probably be too if you kept seeing ghosts when you were a kid. BUT! Everytime he comes on screen, with those eyes, I just want to reach out and take him in my arms and say, "Hey it's okay baby. Let me protect you. Let me love you." LOL! Too damn hot. 

Steven - So Darn Relatable to Me

Steve is the oldest among the five Crain siblings. He's made his living from writing about paranormal experiences of other people. His most popular novel of course is one based off from his own family's experience: The Haunting of Hill House. But while he writes about them, truth of the matter is, he's a non-believer. For him, all the things that his siblings, Nell and Luke, his mom and even his Dad, all their paranormal claims about Hill House are really just a result of a sickness. Mental illness. 

I don't believe in ghosts either. When my friends or work colleagues (they say our office building is haunted!) claim they've seen a ghost or felt the presence of a ghost, I always have a logical explanation for it.

I remember this one particular incident in College when we were sent out of town for an immersion, - and the place we stayed in was also seemingly isolated - my friend, Jackie and I stayed up real late just chatting. Up to the wee hours of the morning, we were wide awake and we thought we weren't the only ones up because we could hear a couple more voices seemingly also chit chatting. Then Jackie calls out to them and when we got no response, we looked over on the bedroom floor and saw that surprise! We were the only ones awake. No one else was sitting by the window sill. Because Jackie became freaked by that, we decided to go to bed but not to sleep! We still wanted to keep on talking. Then we heard some low growling (?) from above our heads. We didn't dare look. We closed our eyes real tight, held hands until we fell asleep and it was morning again. I was initially scared. But by day light, when Jackie was starting to tell the story to our classmates, I already had some logical explanations for it. 

These Kids Are Just So Cute!

Young Nell


Young Luke

Is it worth a second season? 

I read that this Netflix original series has become super popular among viewers, critics and horror fans. It's only been released last week but I read that it's risen to the popularity of longer running shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story. Even Stephen King has nothing but praises for this. There's no announcement of a second season for this series yet but you know how Netflix likes to give in to the clamor of a popular show. Case in point: 13 Reasons Why. 

I actually don't want Netflix to take the route of '13 Reasons Why' on this wherein they made another season of the series because it was very much talked about. It was weird because the story was about Hannah Baker's suicide and Hannah died at the end of season 1. The Haunting of Hill House, like 13 Reasons Why, is also based on a novel written by Shirley Jackson and like I said, the story is about the Crain family who moved into Hill House. With how they ended this series, I feel like there was such a finale to it. Unless of course, the writers of the show decide to tell the stories of the other residents of Hill House, the ghosts that haunt the place.        

Should you watch it?

If you're looking for something good to watch this Halloween season, I recommend The Haunting of Hill House. I promise you won't be disappointed. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Book Review: Dan Brown's Origin

I pledged to read 12 books this 2018 for my GoodReads Reading Challenge. One of the books I recently finished is Dan Brown's Origin. It's the fifth novel from his Robert Langdon series which I am such a fan of! Yep, I've read all of them - Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol and Inferno. Pretty sure some of you are familiar with the titles I mentioned too since The Da Vince Code was such a controversial book for the Catholic Church plus three out of the four books I've mentioned have been adapted into a movie starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon (love him for the role!).  

Anyway, so back to Origin. In the story, Robert Langdon finds himself in Spain, at the Guggenheim Museum attending an event hosted by his former student and friend, billionaire and futurist Edmond Kirsch. The latter's event was to reveal his discovery, a breakthrough that will answer two fundamental questions of human existence and will change the face of science forever. But then the evening turns into chaos and forces Langdon to escape Bilbao together with the gorgeous museum director, Ambra Vidal. 

The two fundamental questions: Where do we come from? and Where are we going? 

As you know, when it comes to the first question, science and religion have different answers. Religion says an omnipotent being is responsible for our existence here on earth. Everything from the night and day, water and plants, the creatures that walk the earth and of course, us, mankind were created by the one we call God. Science explains it with the most famous creation theory, Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection.

As the story goes, both questions will be answered. Personally though, I was not blown away by the answer to the first question. It was more like "well, okay. That's interesting..." The second question is more intriguing for me. In this day and age of technological advancement, we find ourselves asking "Will machines replace human beings?" 

Because as the story goes, Robert Langdon finds himself depending on Winston, whom one would think was a British guy speaking at the other end of the phone line but turns out to be a super computer built by Edmond Kirsch as his assistant. After his friend is murdered, Langdon, together with the gorgeous museum director, Ambra Vidal, set out on a mission to discover what Kirsch was not able to reveal to the world so they can finish what he intended to do.

Artificially intelligent computers are not new anymore but they keep leveling up thanks to this day and age of technological advancement. Doesn't it amaze you, the things computers can now do? Here are ten powerful examples I found.

But at the same time, it can be scary to think of because a true artificial intelligent system can learn on its own like Winston did from the book. If it can learn, it can get smarter. It can adapt. It can get better. Who knows what it can do with knowledge it can acquire, right? Although I know right now AI is still young and far from what the Hollywood movies and TV shows depict.

Origin is a highly entertaining and intriguing read. There's still the conspiracy theory to it aside from the technological aspect of the book - did the religious, represented by Bishop Valdespino, in this book, give the order to kill Edmond Kirsch? Were the religious leaders so fearful that the faithful will question their faith and perhaps lose that faith in God once they find out the groundbreaking discovery of Edmond Kirsch? Was it someone from the royal family of Spain that wanted Kirsch dead in order to protect religion? As for me, I had my suspicion though from the first few chapters as to who is responsible for the murder of Kirsch. And it's a disturbing idea.

I would love to see this turned into another movie. I think it'd be another exciting watch on the big screen with Tom Hanks reprising his role as Robert Langdon. Meanwhile, do read the book! It's everything you'd hope for a Robert Langdon novel - beautiful locations (Guggenheim Museum, Sagrada Familia, Madrid, Barcelona...), an intriguing mystery to solve, a touch of history, and of course the mad dash to the reveal of the secret. 


Monday, October 8, 2018

What Happy Looks Like Vol 13

Here are my five happy things from last week:

1. Reading a book and drinking coffee at a quiet coffee shop. It's my kind of chill Sunday. 

2. Seeing someone I like a day earlier than expected. I've been feeling like my week was going by in a humdrum. And then that happened. I love moments of surprises like that. It's like the universe sending some love and happiness my way. 

3. Trumpets by Sean Paul being played at Body Jam class. It's my ultimate favorite dance track ever since I first heard it played during Rej's Body Jam Superstar competition. 

4.  Timezone with my favorite couple, Ryan and Dom. We're still at it with our monthly photo booth tradition.

5. Seeing my best friend feel the kilig. His crush not only smiled but also said hello to him. I live vicariously through him so kinilig narin ako. We're so high school! LOL! 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Travel Diary: Batu Caves and Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia

What else did we do during our trip to Malaysia? We had another country side tour and of course not to be missed, we went to visit the famous landmark, the Petronas Twin Towers!

Kuala Lumpur Suburbs and Batu Caves 

During our Malacca tour, we learned so much history. In this tour, we still got a glimpse of history but we also learned about their culture. 

Our first stop was a visit at Royal Selangor, a world famous company known for its quality pewter, which is a gray alloy of tin with copper and antimony. It's here that we witnessed first hand the art of pewter crafting and saw the many possible designs and uses of pewter such as children's gift, kitchen utensils and even as fashion accessories. 

My mom bought me a pair of earrings from Royal Selangor - the most expensive souvenir I have ever gotten in my life so far! But who am I to complain? They are gorgeous! I even wanted to get the necklace and/or the ring of the same design but that's just too much. Also I had to be honest to myself - I wasn't much of a necklace or ring person.   


If you want to know more about Royal Selangor, you can visit this site.

We also had a stop at a batik shop. Here we were shown how batik designing is done. It's basically dyeing a fabric using wax so the fabric doesn't absorb the dye. I saw something like this done during my travel in Bali, Indonesia which I think is where batik originated from. 

The highlight of this tour of course was Batu Caves, a limestone hill composed of a series of caves and cave temples. It's a frequented tourist attraction in Malaysia. Batu Caves is actually a religious site for Hindu. It's dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Hindu God of War. You'll see his statue at the entrance of Batu Caves. 


Since it's still a sacred place, if you're visiting Batu Caves, make sure to wear comfortable clothes that also don't show a lot of skin like shorts or spaghetti tops. Don't worry though, the locals pass around a fabric that you can use as cover up since there are a lot of tourists that either are probably not aware that there's a dress requirement when you visit. 

My mom and I just before climbing up the colorful but steep flight of 272 steps to get to the top of the main cave. Am so proud of my mother - the woman's got strong legs! While her friends struggled to get to the top, she made it look easy. 

My mom and her friends getting in the way of this shot! LOL! 

For our Batu Caves tour, I chose to wear my white sleeveless cotton top from Bayo paired with my Dorothy Perkins pastel skirt since we were going to a place of worship. I topped the whole look with my Tally blue Teelle sandals which I first saw Kelly Misa wear.    

This is one of my supposedly OOTD shots. I consider this a lucky shot considering there were so many people climbing up and down the stairs of Batu Caves! The struggle to get a good IG-worthy photo was real. That was the reality I faced when I went to Batu Caves though on Instagram, I saw people who had really good shots on these stairs aka very few tourists to none, leaving me to wonder "how the heck did you guys do that?! Photoshop ba yan?" 😜

Look at that! People from all sides, each posing for photos just like me. 
Anyway I think there was a sort of Hindu occasion during our visit because there were different Hindu related rituals and celebrations ongoing which I guess added to the number of people at Batu Caves.

When you reach the top of the cave, you'll see more statues of what I suppose are more Hindu Gods. 


Just watch out for the monkeys while you climb up. They might rummage your bags thinking you've got food on you so don't best not to bring food and keep your belongings close to you. Oh and if you've got more time, there are more caves to explore at Batu Caves like the Dark Cave though that's got a separate fee. Also I don't think it's recommended for older people because I read that it involves more climbing, crawling and even sliding. 

Petronas Twin Towers

During our whole stay in Kuala Lumpur, my mom and her friends' asked me one question repeatedly. "Ngayon ba tayo pupunta sa Petronas?" (Are we going to see Petronas Twin Towers today?) Finally, on our fourth day in the country, I took them there. 

I booked our tickets via Klook again since I read that lines going up the towers can get long (who wants to wait in line?) and you might not even end up getting the schedule you wanted! At least with Klook, I was not only able to secure our tickets to go up Petronas Twin Towers but we also had a ride going there.


Seeing Petronas Twin Towers up close at last! If you want an amazing view of Kuala Lumpur, go inside the towers although I read that some tourists prefer to see the skyline view of the city from Kuala Lumpur Tower since it's got a better view. Lucky me I saw a breathtaking view of the city from both towers because we also visited KL Tower. Don't ask me which will give you the better view. I liked the view from above on both. I guess partly because I saw the city view from the top at different time frames. Also I'm not hard to please. 

The tour inside Petronas Twin Towers will take you to Skybridge at the 41st and 42nd floors and the  Observation deck at level 86 which gave us these panoramic views of the city.  


And finally, here's my favorite shot from my visit to The Petronas Twin Towers. 

I had to use fish lens on my mobile phone to capture this shot because no matter what angle Mai Ann did (kneel, lie down on the ground, sit, etc.) the photos just couldn't capture up to the twin towers spires considering the Petronas Twin Towers are so tall! So we bought the fish lens being sold by the Filipino vendors in the area which to be honest at the start we ignored but one of 'em with persistence managed to convince me to let him show me the wonder brought by using fish lens. The vendors are nice actually. They even showed my friend and I how to use the fish lens. My mom even managed to get one of them to take their (hers and her friends) photos using my phone with the new lens! LOL! 

We really waited for night fall when the towers are all lit up just to get this shot and it quite a wait because even at seven in the evening, Kuala Lumpur's still looks as though it's only afternoon! My mom was becoming impatient with me already especially when we took so many shots just to achieve this! But you know, when I was going to be back in Malaysia? I just had to take the chance! 

Finally, I have a photo of me seeing the Petronas Twin Towers that I could show to everyone. And finally, after six years, I can actually say I went to Malaysia! There's still a lot more to see in this country and I definitely would like to come back to explore but for now, I'm just happy to have seen what I've seen together with my mom who deserved this rest and relaxation from her ever so busy life in Manila.  


Monday, October 1, 2018

What Happy Looks Like Vol. 12

How time has flown by. It's already October. But the month isn't off to a good start for me. Woke up with a headache which is still here hours later after drinking meds. I forgot a few items while preparing for work thereby causing delay on my end. Some guy in a Toyota Hilux called over to me from the window of his car while I was walking and asked if I needed a cab. Creep. Got to work a whole lot later than I planned. I'm basically having Monday blues.

But let's continue on to looking back at the things that made me happy the past week.

1. Got to go to the gym more times than I have since April. I think I finally am finding the right motivation - the original reason I signed up for a gym membership - to go back aka not a guy.

2. Getting my Sodexo mobile pass GC from Pera Swipe. It's one of those new apps I tried out. Just keep swiping up on your screen to earn points and there you go! Points converted to Sodexo GC. Now. What to buy? What to buy?

3. New clothes. 

4. Finding out that the Bistro Deli branch near our place still offers unlimited coffee refills for less than Php50. 

5. Me Time. It's nice to just spend time with yourself from time to time doing whatever the heck you like.

6. Saturday Body Jam class.

7. Going online and finding that I have a Spot the Difference game request my friends.