Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thoughts on death on All Hallow's Eve...


Yesterday, I attended the burial rites for the father of my best friend. I thought it was a beautiful ceremony. The eulogies were sweet and moving. My best friend and her family, though devastated by the sudden death of Tito, held things together pretty well. Prayers and faith in a beautiful afterlife helped. Prior to that, the last funeral I attended was for the father of a college classmate and for my grandfather (Mom's side). Other than these, I don't really remember. I guess people in my clan live long or I don't know too many people close to me who've rejoined our Creator. The only time I cried like a baby over someone's death was when a former colleague passed away. Until now, the cause of the person's death continues to be a mystery to me. That person was the first person close to me who passed away.

If you ask me about my thoughts on death, most of the time, I would say that I'm not really afraid of it. I don't know, but I learned somewhere and have really accepted that death is but a physical separation from this world and is actually the beginning of a new "life" - one that's much, much better compared to the "best" this earthly life has to offer.

For my 30th birthday, believe it or not and this is going to sound really morbid, one of the "gifts" that I wanted for myself was to a memorial plan. I was asking my friends in the 30-up age range whether they had memorial plans and would they be so kind and refer me an agent.

It sounds emo, but my reasons for thinking about a memorial plan are nothing but practical. I'm not getting any younger and even if I'm spending hours at the gym and I'm joining a run every so often, anything could happen anytime anywhere. And when the inevitable does happen, I really don't want to be an added burden to my folks (if I do go ahead of them) or my siblings by making them think about what to do with my physical remains. Uhm, I think that part of being a responsible and mature adult involves being prepared for whatever that comes with aging, right? That includes my departure from this earthly life.

And let's face it, death is a costly thing. The rent for the venue of the wake, the coffin, the flower arrangements, the food for the visitors, the burial fee, the paperwork, and so on. And if one is not prepared for that, one will definitely be giving his or her family something more to grieve about other than the physical death.

Being in the world of PR/CorpComm where event planning is a basic skill required because events to be covered happen almost everyday, I would even write that maybe when I reach 40, I would also start thinking about how my own funeral would be - the venue of my wake, the flower arrangements, the food to be catered, what people should wear when I'm finally laid to rest (either a.] everyone in bright/pastel-colored tops and jeans or b.] men in white shirts/polos and the women in white sundresses), what music to play, the speakers for the eulogy, the order of the speakers for the eulogy, and because my career life heavily involves mounting exhibits, do I want to mount my own exhibit (or would that be too vain? Hahaha! Just kidding, just kidding).

As for the manner of dying, well, my only wish is for it to be a beautiful death. I don't want anything that involves any decapitations, amputations or any form of mutilation. Uhm, if possible, no weird accidents too like becoming the meal of a shark or a crocodile, getting trampled by an elephant, or getting run over by any speeding vehicle as well. Shucks, Jesus would probably just give me the freakiest death for being too public-perceptions-oriented even at the point of death. Haha!

Anyway, since I was busy mounting an exhibit in Iloilo for my 30th birthday, I wasn’t able to look for an agent for a memorial plan. Maybe you can recommend someone?

R.I.P, guys! - Rest in Prada (or maybe Pucci? or maybe Proenza Schouler? or Paul Smith? Hehe!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some nice surprises - a new dining venue, a giant orange box, and PS-prints...













I've been meaning to post these last week, but work schedule was just really crazy. Haha!

Now that things are more manageable (or so I think), uhm, here are some nice surprises I found two weeks ago.

First is Romulo Cafe. College friend Gino hosted a dinner party for his big 3-0 at the newly-opened dining venue. I don't want to call it a restaurant, because I feel like it isn't. And when you do go get to visit it, you'll see that it's not. One of the newest food destinations in the Morato area, Romulo Cafe looks like an ideal venue for private dinners, intimate parties, BIO (by invitation only) events. Hehe!

The owner is the daughter of Carlos P. Romulo and what she did (or interior designer Ivy Almario) was to transform certain rooms of the house into beautiful dining rooms. There is a unifying theme in all the rooms, but each room still has its own character and decor. You can reserve the room for a fee, but it is also consummable.

Food was good, too. Filipino cuisine given its own signature twist. What I didn't like so much was the acoustics of the room. The room that Gino got was the black room (the largest I think). The interiors was superb, but the sound that came from everyone talking just kept on bouncing around the room. John said there's a remedy for that. Acoustic ceilings or something. Still, the venue is super worth a visit.

Romulo Cafe is at 32 Scout Tuason corner Dr. Lazcano Tomas Morato, Quezon City. Call them at 332-7275 to reserve.

The other nice surprise happened when I was making my way to Greenbelt from Landmark. I was on my way to get my haircut, and while crossing the Landmark footbridge, I saw the nicest giant orange "box." It really is happening. Hermes is coming to town. I love how they boarded the shop location to look like a giant Hermes gift box. I don't recall any luxe store in Manila ever doing that. Haha! I wonder whether the shop will survive here, but a friend who works for ... told me that half of the store inventory has already been reserved. Crazy, huh?! I love it. Hahaha!

The last nice surprise was finding short-sleeved shirts at Rustan's with Paul Smith-esque prints. Black Label Homme carries the shirts. A shirt costs about P1,750. I wanted to get both as a birthday present, but I dediced to be kuripot and bought something else. Hehehe! Let's just wait for the Rustan's sale.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

30-year-old guys can still want butterflies in the stomach, right?

Okay, it's time for one of those post-birthday emo entries. Hehe!

I recently met someone, and he appeared to be somewhat partner material. Cute, funny, neat, seems to be sane, and I knew he liked me. Receiving several thoughtful text messages throughout the day was good proof for that, right? Even if he composed his text messages that drove the CorpComm guy in me really crazy - "Musta u? Kain na u. Mz u na." - , I appreciated the gesture and it felt good to know someone thought of me. It's been awhile since I've had that.

If I were to be logical about this whole thing, I would have already asked him that we date exclusively. He already met the basic requirement for partners. So really, what more could I ask for, right? Here's a nice guy who liked me and who wanted to be with me. Plus, there's the fact that I'm not getting any younger, right? If all I wanted was to have someone whom I can call a partner, there he was.

Instead, I choose to tell him that he's free to date others, that he shouldn't reject those who show interest in him. He insisted that it's just me who he wanted to see. Usually, I would be instantly happy when I hear that, given the fact that the possibility of a relationship doesn't come my way that often.

But there was something missing. I dunno. Not just enough oomph. It was like downing a couple of bottles of Strong Ice and not having that weird smile on my face which meant I'm buzzed. A thirty-year old guy can still look for butterflies in the stomach, right? Either the "kilig" factor wasn't there or being single for the past three years has made me forgotten certain emotions.

Or maybe I thought and felt the whole thing was going too fast. He wanted me to be a part of his life in an instant, while I wanted to take things one day at a time. I didn't see the need for the rush. I'm not leaving the country anytime soon and neither one of us is terminally ill (I hope).

To cut the story short, I think he just got tired of texting. And I got tired of texting him to slow down. He accused me that I didn't want to see him because I rarely text. I disproved him by saying that just because I didn't text as often automatically meant that I didn't want to see him.

Uhm, there was also a part of me that wasn't sure whether he really wanted a relationship. For one, whenever we were together, he'd go, "My ex this. My ex that." I didn't complain about it because he just came out of a bad relationship, and I was always ready to offer an ear to anyone who needed listening. Then, there's the fact that he rarely asked about "me" so he'd get to know me more. I had to inject a little about "me" when we'd talk.

But what really assured me that I did the right decision of not going for this were two text messages received when the SMS exchange became less frequent. One, he told me that he was planning to leave the country again. I asked him for details on this, but all I got was, "I still don't know."

Days after, another text came, saying "I'm getting married." When I got that message, I knew I did the right thing and I didn't even bother asking for details (e.g. Was he marrying a guy or a girl?) I just wished him the best of luck and I meant it. But seriously, what the f, man? You want to get into a relationship but obviously, you're not sure of what you want.

I dunno if turning 30 has something to do with this, but indecisiveness annoys me big time. Some things only need a yes or a no. Stop considering the "buts" and just have the balls to give me a straight answer.

When it comes to dating, I almost always let the other person have his way. Being the eldest son taught me to give up things for others. So usually, I’m pretty flexible and more than ready to adjust to the whims of others. But when I see that we’re wasting so much time and effort over certain things that apparently are so simple, that’s when I really step in and take on the role of feeling mas adult role. And you better be ready to argue your side. Hehe! (Yaiks, that makes me sound like a such grouch. Uhm, what I'm trying to say is I usually know when to argue my case and I know when to argue and let you win.)

Moving on, so I’m still single. And I really don’t know where to find a date. Haha! I rarely go to B, and my circle of "happy" friends is quite small. Some girl friends set me up with their friends but nothing’s come out of it yet. Uhm, I think some of them have this notion that all it takes to have a relationship is to make two homos meet each other. Hehe! Ah, I fell big time for someone early this year, but I knew I had to back off and this is another story. I’m interested in some people, but I’m still too torpe most of the time. Haha!

But would you agree that being single is still better than being in a relationship for the sake of being in one? I think it is, as long as one has single friends, too. Haha! And as long as one is mature enough to be an independent person ready to stand his ground and make decisions on his own.

When the temptation to try to look for a relationship comes just so I can change that blasted Facebook status, I just play track 12 of the tick tick Boom soundtrack. So by the time I hear the lines below, I’m brought back to believing in relationships need to happen for the right reason.

"Why do we stay with lovers who we know down deep just aren't right? Why would we rather put ourselves through hell than sleep alone at night?"

Monday, October 26, 2009

The big 3-0 was big on different emotions... haha!





The day I said hello to the big 3-0 was an assortment of emotions. Haha!

I was happy, tired, frustrated, annoyed, shocked, sad.

Oct. 22 was the opening of an exhibit at SM City Iloilo showcasing the terracotta pieces made by some kids of a Gawad Kalinga village our company adopted. Ilonggo artist PG Zoluaga trained and continue to be a mentor to the kids. My assignment was to supervise the mounting of the exhibit. It was a simple setup, nothing new to me, except for the fact that it was in Iloilo and I was coordinating things from Manila. Because of certain policies, I couldn't get an Iloilo-based supplier.

Anyway, things started to go crazy by late Tuesday afternoon. We were supposed to ship the boxes and display panels to Iloilo, but our courier said they won't be able to do so because of the volume weight. Sea freight was an option but they weren't sure of the schedule.

I was already playing all sorts of scenarios in my head on the repercussions of this whole situation if I postponed, but I tried to keep things together and tried to figure how to solve the issue.

Things went well. I found a supplier who was super, and even with just one day to fabricate everything, my supplier was able to bring in all the panels and boxes and everything else that I needed by ingress time of Wednesday night.

There were more challenges along the way though. Uhm, I had difficulty with the work permit and I almost got into a heavy argument on the morning of my birthday because of some policies by an exhibit partner.

Despite everything, the exhibit happened. An opening reception was held in the afternoon and among those who attended were the vice-mayor, a councilor, some GK partners and colleagues.

What was most important for me was that the kids were happy with the exhibit. Most of them couldn't believe that they were having an exhibit. That was something for me, because I'm so used to mounting these exhibits that I sometimes forget how big of a deal it might be to our partners.

So despite being tired and with just a couple of hours sleep, I was happy that (almost) everything happened smoothly.

The past few birthdays have been spent with kids of YWCA. This year, I didn't get to organize one because of work. Still, I'm happy because the exhibit with the kids sort of became my birthday celebration this year. Haha!

Aside from the happy and exhausted feelings, there was also shock and sadness. Around lunchtime, I received a call from Manila. An officemate called to tell me that my best friend Tey rushed home because something happened to his father.

It was the phone call no one should ever receive. I called Tey, and I'm glad that we got to speak briefly. I feel bad though because I couldn't be there for the time that a really good friend needed someone. I'm just thankful that Tey has many friends who supported her at that difficult moment.

What a weird week. I started the week going to the wake of the dad of my college classmate Len, and I ended the week with visiting the wake of the dad of Tey. I hope there won't be any more wakes soon.

When I got back to Manila and things were starting to have order, I told Tey, "I had no idea which emotion to focus on during my birthday. I was tired and stressed. I was happy. I was sad." And we just both laughed at it.

There was really no one major celebration. I didn't have time to organize one big get-together for people I know. What happened was more of random several separate meet-ups with some close friends, although I haven't seen other close friends yet. Uhm, I also treated myself to a few small and simple things and that was it.

The reality that I'm now 30 still has to sink in properly. Haha!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cam-butch in Cambodge... Haha...

Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket

Just how OC can I get sometimes? Uhm, here's an example. For long trips, I don't usually just make a list of the clothes to wear, I create an attire guide. Hahaha!

It sounds funny and vain, but it helps me keep track of the clothes that I brought and it eliminates the need to think of what to wear for the day. Haha! Plus, it's also an excuse to go shopping before the trip.

And I'm sure there are a thousand other people who do this. Haha!

So for the HCM/SR trip, I created an attire guide particularly for the visit to the Angkor temples. Haha!

Uhm, since it was a good time to feel proud about being Pinoy, I packed quite a lot of Team Manila shirts and I wore the Gap Manila shirt for the first time, especially for Angkor Wat. Harhar!

I wonder if Team Manila would give me a lifetime discount, since I practically wore TM during the entire trip. Haha!

Just a side comment, I was really happy to have worn the Manila shirts not just because it says where I'm from, but because these shirts used to be a bit body hugging but now, they fit much better. Ergo, the visits to the gym have been doing what it's supposed to do. Yey!

Anyway, some would say that the Angkor temples transform people because of the experience. It does. When I showed the photos to some girl friends, the only comment they had was, "So butch." Harhar!

I actually had a good time playing ultra-straight. The cargo shorts, the cross trainers, the cap worn backwards, the backpack, the shades. Harhar!

While walking along the streets of Saigon and during a tuktuk ride in SR, these shady looking characters would approach us and say, "You want laidee? Special massage?" Haha! I wanted to tell them, "Not laidee." Tignan natin kung di sila mag-tumbling. Nyahaha!

Anyway, just to be clear, I intend to continue playing for the team and stay on the dark side.

All these "acting?" It's just a phase. Haha!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rolex heist idiots missed their classes from the Pink Panther..

The robbery of the Rolex shop last Sunday was certainly a major surprise. When was the last time something like this happened? A luxury store hit by robbers in broad daylight. Bold move, indeed.

But now that the police or whoever seem to be working already on solving the case and GB5 have resumed its normal operations, here's what I thought about the whole thing.

Whoever was behind the robbery, the idiot certainly wasn't smart and definitely didn't have the smallest ounce of style nor sophistication in staging the heist.

Let me just clear something here, I don't approve of the robbery. Lives were put at stake, and after all the tragedy this city (this country) has recently gone through, we don't need another reason to be fearful and panicky.

What I'm just talking about is the execution of the crime.

In one of the issues of Vanity Fair (or was it GQ?), I read an article about the "greatest" jewelry thieves. I can't remember much of the article, but I'm sure it condemned the acts. But I also remember how the author was amazed with how well-planned and slick the "operation" was.

Any reader who read the article would have reacted, "You gotta admit. Those bastards had style."

The robbery last Sunday, on the other hand, had the makings of a Lito Lapid-Max Alvarado film.

A Rolex store with a lot of broken glasses, a portion of the Topshop window display shattered, one of the gunned down robbers lying on the floor with several pieces of Rolex surrounding him. Geez! All that's missing are the characters of Jinggoy Estrada or Bong Revilla walking in with a posse of uniformed men and you already have a typical scene from a Pinoy action film.

I wonder how the idiots announced that they were going to rob the store. Did they just suddenly storm in the shop and yelled, "Walang kikilos! Magsidapa kayo. Holdup ito!", which was immediately followed by the breaking of the display glasses.

Sheesh. They obviously haven't heard of the Pink Panther, huh.

So instead of having a, uhm, sorry, nicely-written article on how suave the robbery was carried out like this one on the Harry Winston heist in Paris or this one where the thieves arrived in a Bentley, the criminals get an ordinary news article. Imagine having your robbery described as "spectacular," you'd certainly be the talk of the town (even your fellow con men. Hehe!)

If you're going to commit a crime, you might as well do it in spectacular fashion that would leave the authorities and media impressed and with their jaws dropping. Instead of them taunting you and bopping you for a poorly organized act.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The other kind of sightseeing...

Somewhat inspired by blog buddy Narnian's post.

Here's the other interesting sightseeing adventure during my trip. Hehehe!

Because I wish I could have gotten my girlfriends (and pa-girlfriends) something other than magnets as souvenirs. Haha!

For the -er queens...
Photobucket Photobucket

and the twink fans...
Photobucket Photobucket

For the rice queens...
Photobucket Photobucket

And the potato queens...
Photobucket Photobucket

And of course, here's the best during the trip. Hehe!



And the big question that remain unanswered until now...


"Ateh, why naka-ruffles tayo sa falls?"

Yeah, yeah. Evil na kung evil. Hehe!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Angkor temple overdose... Haha











Alright, this time I'd like to write about the temples. But instead of gushing about how fantastic the temples were (which is what everyone does anyway), I'd like to just share (hopefully) useful information to people who plan to make a trip to Siem Reap soon.

When I was doing my research for the trip, I got tons of information but the problem was I couldn't find just the basic info. There was always so much info and I didn't have the time nor the patience to filter the info. So with this blog post, I would just like to share the basic but important information on visiting the temples.

Let's set some things straight first. Fantastic is an understatement, a major understatement on how the temples were. I really don't have any words to use for it. I can only stop, remember and be ecstatic that I walked the grounds of Angkor Wat, climbed the hundred steps at Phimeanakas, hiked 1500 meters to get to Kabal Spean, and so on. It was truly, truly an experience of a lifetime.

Moving on, here are some of the basic info which SR tourists should probably know about touring the temples.

1.) Depending on your itinerary, you can choose to have the mini-tour and/or the grand tour. The mini-tour I suppose is what every SR tourist takes. After getting your temple pass ($20 for a day pass and $40 for a three day pass), the tour starts with the Angkor Wat. Then, you go to by the huge complex of Angkor Thom where you can visit Bayon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Elephant, and the Terrace of the Leper King. By the time we left the Terrace of the Leper King, it was already past noontime. We headed to one of the local restaurants in the complex for a quick lunch. In the afternoon, we went to Ta Keo, Ta Prohm (where you'll find the very famous tree that appeared in Tomb Raider), Banteay Kdei, and Phnom Bakheng for the beautiful sunset (if you're lucky).

The grand tour, usually scheduled for the second day begins with Pre Rup, then East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean and concludes with Preah Khan. You can also be more adventurous and choose to skip Ta Som and East Mebon, and instead proceed to Banteay Srey and Kbal Spean, which are about 50 kilometers from Siem Reap. This was what we did. Not only did we get to see places not too many SR tourists visit. We also got to see more of the Cambodian countryside.

At the end of the grand tour, you can ask your tuktuk driver to drop you off at the Pub Street for dinner and to see the night life, some shopping at the Central Market just before it closes and more shopping at the Night Market.

2.) If you need a tour guide, get one for the first day only. The tour guides are helpful for the first day because they help you become familiar with the complex. On the second day, the tuktuk driver you got for the first day can already serve as your tour guide as well. What's nice about not having a tour guide is that you can take as much time as you want in the temples. Tour guides charge between $20-25 per day.

A little side note, I wish tour guides would first align expectations with their clients. I'm sure they were trained to know the history of the temples but I also wish they knew the temples from another perspective. Maybe an architectural perspective (why were the temples designed that way?). Or maybe a Khmer artisan's perspective (the process of making the bas reliefs). Or maybe even a mala-chismax style. (the good, the bad and the juicy gossip about the empire). Hehe!

I'm not really too big a fan of a historical approach, because I can read about the temples online. What would have interested me was info on the process of making the elaborate designs, the life of the artisans who made the superb carvings. Oh well.

3.) Tuktuk rental for the first day is $18 (mini-tour) and $25 for the second day (grand tour). If you're going to Kbal Spean, your tuktuk driver could go with you in taking the 1500 meter trek to the riverbed with carvings of the thousand lingas. (What’s a linga? Google it! Haha!) Wes and I were lucky because our tour guide Rong did the trek with us, and even took our photos. Hehe!

4.) Get ready to do a lot, and I really mean a LOT of walking. That's what we did for two days. Make sure you have comfy clothing and footwear. Bring bottled water, and if you're like me who's blessed (or cursed) with very active sudoriferous glands, tons of extra shirts and a face towel. Bring wet wipes and anti-bac hand gel. Don't laugh but I also brought an umbrella (which was useful when it drizzled), a light rain jacket, a cap, a pair of sunglasses, and of course, a backpack for all your stuff.

You can also get a copy of Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide from your hotel. I think it's a quarterly publication that's very useful because it has all the info - maps, restaus and bars, temple guide, shopping, travel and transpo, and so on. It's every tourist's survival guide. Hehe!

Uhm, if you need to use the restroom, there are a number inside the complex. Just look for WC.

Oh, I'd like to just share that it was during the SR trip that I realized that all the hours at the gym paid off. Despite the climbs which we did several times during the day and the hikes at Phnom Bakheng and Kabal Spean, not a single leg muscle ached and I wasn't running after my breath. Yey! Haha! :)

5.) Be ready to be approached by local sellers. In every temple, the vendors (kids and adults alike) will offer all sorts of souvenirs. They can be really, really annoying. At one point, I was so ready to tell them off. Instead, I would just usually walk fast with my head low and go straight to the tuktuk. I can't blame them. They're just trying to make a living. But visiting every temple and having a bunch of vendors waiting for you to exit the temple so they can all approach you with their wares while saying, "One dollah! One dollah!" can really try your patience.

I bought my souvenirs at the market in Banteay Srey. There's a row of souvenir shops there. Since we're talking about shopping, I might as well say that you can also get cheap souvenirs from the Central Market. If you're a bit meticulous with the fabric of "Cambodia" souvenir shirts, buy from the Central Market. I was lucky enough to find two shirts that was made of good cotton. I think they are Old Navy overruns, because they have Old Navy tags. But of course, they could just be knockoffs. Hehe! Still, the fabric was better than the ones being sold at the temples.

And if you do decide to buy, bring out the Pinoy and always ask for a major discount. Hehe! I got 4 shirts for $9, about 8 Khmer scarves for $6, tons of magnets for $10, and 5 bracelet beads for a $1. Hehe!

So that's it basically, you've got info on the itinerary for the temples, transportation, must-bring items, and shopping tips.

For more photos, check out the albums on Facebook or just click here. :)