Friday, May 30, 2014

June is almost here...

I can't believe June is almost here.

2014 is happening too fast. Slow down a bit, will you? Unless that thing on my mind is going to happen soon, then by all means hurry up already 2014. Haha!

Since work has not been so busy these past few days, I finally found the time to start sorting the photos from the Rome + Vatican leg of the recent Euro trip.

The Rome albums - yes, albums - are taking quite some times since I'm going through a thousand over photos. Haha!

During the trip, I was a bit undecided on how I felt about Rome. To be clear, I am referring only to Rome. The Vatican experience is a completely separate story. Hehe!

As I go through the photos now, I am now really seeing how beautiful and historic the city is.

I told PG Boy this. He replied, "Yeah, until you get back there again." Lol! I'm quite sure the second time would be much better.

One more good thing about the Europe trip was that it made me want to go on another big trip next year. With my limited resources, a decision needs to be made between New York and Paris+Bruges+Ghent. I'm really leaning towards the latter. It's the thought about the museums (The Cloisters at the MET!) and Broadway that's making me think of New York.

Besides, I have a US visa that has never been used. It's expiring in 6 years. I should use it soon.

Another consideration is the plan to take up some courses. That's certainly a factor in the financial planning for 2015.

Who knows? I might strike gold this year. Haha! Wish ko lang.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My baby bro is a boss...

Earlier, I read the FB post of my kid bro about needing courage and hoping that he is doing the right thing.

Active imagination that I have, I wondered whether the day I am fearing is about to arrive.

I replied to my bro's post urging him to iMessage or email me. The email came in the afternoon.

Thankfully, it wasn't news that he's about to get married. Nor did he propose to his girlfriend. Yah! Sigh of relief. Hehe!

He is too young to get married.

Anyway, it turns out that he has some really wonderful news to share.

For some reason, he said he was shy to tell me that he is going to have his own food place this June. He has been thinking about it. He has been planning for it. And I dunno how long it's been going, but it turns out he's been busy executing this plan/dream of his.

I quickly gave him a call to ask for more details. He said that it's a small place that can serve about 10-15 people. He said he's eyeing more takeouts than dine-in customers. He said he already got the rent and salary of his staff for the next two months covered. He said his target customers are students and workers from a nearby school and factory. He said he already checked out the competition.

Wow! I am deeply impressed. He does know what he is talking about.

But as with any business startup, he could use some help with some fees. Lol!

He told me how much he needed and thankfully, I have a bit of extra cash that I can loan him.

Needless to say, I am really one proud Kuya.

My brother who is ONLY 24 is already a budding entrepreneur!

What was I doing when I was 24? I was partying in Malate and... lol!

Wait, no. That was also the time my friends and I put up ICON magazine. We were just a simple of group of friends complaining there was no magazine that catered to our market. The next thing we know, we were already publishing our first issue. Haha!

We all got to start somewhere. And I am really proud of my bro for being courageous and daring to start his own business.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I want to study again...

I've been looking for schools that offer a postgraduate diploma or an advanced certificate in Public Relations/Corporate Communications.

Two major reasons why I want to go back to school: 1.) I'm considering going back to the world of PR and CorpComm so I think it'll be good to have a refresher course and 2.) I think having that extra new course will beef up my resume.

There have been no problems in looking for schools with the courses that I want. The problem is with the mode of delivery and of course, the cost.

Since I can only do this part-time, I am open to either online classes or distance learning. If it were up to me, I still prefer for the face-to-face/classroom setting.

As for the cost, the courses I am seeing would need me to sell my kidney just so I can fund my studies. Haha! The big difference is this. If I were a permanent resident or a citizen of that country, the tuition fee I would have to pay is significantly lower and more affordable. Add to that financial aid schemes and other options to fund studies.

I did stumble upon a few courses that are more affordable. The NYU School of Continuing Education offers a Diploma/Certificate in PR/CorpComm and the cost is less than USD5000. The problem is it's not available as an online course. The Institute of Public Relations of Singapore also offers a certificate in PR but the next intake is not yet definite. The cost is quite affordable, too. I also saw two other institutes that offer the course that won't cost an arm and a leg. However, I am not too familiar with the reputation of the schools - one is the PR Academy London and the other one is the SMF Institute of Higher Learning based in Singapore.

The curriculum of SMF seems broader as it also covers journalism and TV production. The course runs for 10 months. Flexible payment schemes are also available. Maybe I should drop by the school one of these days to see the facilities.

SMU has a Master's in Communication/Diploma in Public Relations. The costs is about $20,000. Lol! Where will I get that amount? I did a quick check of available scholarships and most are for undergraduate studies. I'm not sure if the Philippine government offers scholarships for this industry. Even if they do, I don't think they will award a scholarship to a citizen working overseas. Haha!

Anyway, these are all just plans. I still got time to firm up everything.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Certainty/Entropy walkthrough at Hermes Liat Tower...

Perks of being a museum volunteer: exhibit walkthrough with the artist. Today, Japanese artist Aiko Tezuka shared her inspiration and artistic process for her works on display in the exhibit Certainty / Entropy.

From the walkthrough invite:

"For the latest exhibition at Third Floor - Hermès, we are featuring breathtakingly intricate works by Japanese artist Aiko Tezuka in Certainty / Entropy, held from 9 May to 27 July. For this exhibition, Tezuka has worked closely with a team of seven artisans from TextielLab/Museum in the Netherlands to conceptualise and specially produce fabrics which are being shown here in Singapore for the first time!

From medieval tapestries to fabrics intended for wear, artist Aiko Tezuka is fascinated by the stories that echo behind these beautiful creations. Certainty / Entropy is her exploration of these invisible narratives, various heritages and their motifs, and the evolving cultures in the world today. Through the act of meticulously unravelling fabrics by hand, Tezuka creates compelling compositions of loosened threads, offering a poetic transformation of industrially produced textiles into their constituent parts."

The exhibit is ongoing until 27 July at Third Floor-Hermes Liat Tower.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A boy sold me a box of ice cream...

On my way home from the gym the other night, a boy probably in approaching early his teen years walked up to me. He was carrying an ice box with him. He opened the ice box and showed boxes of ice cream. He told me he was selling them to help finance his studies.

This was the second time I've experienced something like this. The other similar situation was with a poly student. I was on my way to meet some friends and this poly student approached me. He showed me his ID to prove he is a student of a certain poly. He then showed some papers and asked if I would be willing to help him. I asked him how his grades were. He said they were okay. I told him to study harder before parting with my $10.

The situation with the poly student was not too surprising. The one with the primary school student was very surprising.

I told PG Boy about it. He thinks it might be some modus operandi. I doubted it. Otherwise, someone would have already reported it. To me, if that kid tried to dupe me, then karma will get him for me.

Singapore is generally perceived to be a very wealthy country. It is. Uhm, it has the highest concentration of millionaires. Hello. Any first time visitor to the country would already be wowed by Singapore even before that person has left Changi Airport. When one goes to Orchard or Marina Bay Sands Shoppes, all the luxury shops that sell pieces with astronomical prices are there. The fact that these shops are in business mean they have customers.

But having lived here for three years now, there have been quite a few situations where I wondered about the lives of other groups of people. A few times, I've experienced an elderly asking for loose change because they need to get to some MRT station. I wonder where the frail aunties and uncles selling tissue papers go after an entire day of sitting at some corner. I wondered about those senior citizens who are alone in life and cannot work anymore. Where do they stay? How can they afford the insane rent of flats? (Mr. Lim explained to me once that the government has flats with very low rental for the low-income groups.) A few of those times that I came home very late, I've seen father and daughter and sometimes, senior citizens, going through rubbish bins scavenging for recyclables. There was also one time when I saw an individual sleeping under the stairs of an HDB flat. The person just had a blanket wrapped around him.

I'm confident that the government has programs to help the low-income groups. I wonder if all groups have access to the assistance. Whatever gap I guess is filled in by the non-government organisations.

It still just surprises me, I guess. When I told some of my close visiting friends about these things, they were really shocked to hear that it exists in Singapore.

Hmm, not everything is what they appear to be I suppose.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Found at a used books shop...

After going to the Annie Leibovitz exhibit, I decided to go to Bras Basah complex to visit one of the used books shops.

With time to kill before going to Mass, I figured I can go and take a look around the shop and see if there are any new books worth getting.

I like that book shop because I once found several good buys. I was able to get an Alexander Mcqueen Savage Beauty in mint condition for half the price that it was being sold at Kinokuniya. I also found Dolce & Gabanna, Versace, Manolo Blahnik coffee books then but I just decided on getting the Mcqueen book.

Yesterday, the treasures I stumbled upon were mostly art books. Tipz went with me and he found a Botero coffee table book that was in a very good condition. If I remember correctly, it was still sealed. There were also titles on Gauguin, Monet, the Impressionists, Chinese and Japanese artists, several Christie's and Sotheby's catalogues.

I was looking for either another fashion coffee table book or one particular art book A Life of Collecting: Victor and Sally Ganz. I don't think it's available at Kino since it was published quite some time back. I would like to get a copy of the book because it is dedicated to a couple who collated art for the love of it, not for investment. What was also interesting about the Ganz's is the fact that they were a middle-class couple. They weren't a business tycoon or heirs to multi-billion dollar companies. They were regular people who happened to love art very much.

No luck in finding the book though. However, I did find a Rijksmuseum book. Haha! And it was only $9.90. It was still in a good condition. I decided to buy the book and add it to the very few souvenirs I got from my Europe trip.

Will definitely go back to that shop. Maybe next time the Victor and Sally Ganz book will be there.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Annie Leibovitz on a rainy Sunday morning...

Just like yesterday, the rain didn't stop me from doing my plans for today. :)

Mon previously mentioned about the Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the Marina Bay ArtScience Museum. I asked him if he wanted to go this weekend, but he already went last Tuesday. PG Boy's friend was also interested in the exhibit, but she decided to see it on another day.. That left me and Tipz spending Sunday noontime at the museum.

Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 is an exhibit currently ongoing at the Marina Bay ArtScience Museum. The retrospective features close to 200 personal and commissioned photographs by the famous American photographer.

I know Annie Leibovitz because of her work with US Vogue. She is certainly one of the star photographers of the fashion bible.

After visiting the exhibit, I am now a bigger fan of her work. The exhibit included landscapes, fashion photos, her coverage of the war in Sarajevo, family photos, and photos that showed her wonderful relationship with Susan Sontag. This last category was a complete surprise. I had no idea she was a companion of the late esteemed American literary icon.

We joined a guided tour that lasted for about 40 minutes. Afterwards, we stayed behind for another hour and a half. Haha! I didn't expect it would take us two hours to see the exhibit. It was that good!

The exhibit runs until October 2014. Tix is $15. $13 for residents including work pass holders.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Somewhat busy Saturday...

Today turned out to be a bit busy but still relaxing.

PG Boy is overseas so I came up with a few plans to keep myself busy.

First, Mr. Lim and I agreed to go for a walk this weekend. I can't remember the last time we went for a walk so it was really time to visit one of the nature parks of the island.

Well, well. By the time I reached Bishan, it was pouring heavily. I messaged my hiking buddy to see if he still wanted to meet up. He was also on the way so I just waited for him at our usual breakkie place. By the time we finished breakfast, the skies had cleared up a bit. There was actually a chance that we might be able to go for a walk.

We just agreed that we couldn't do Macritchie because it'll be muddy and slippery. Instead, he suggested Lower Peirce. It was such a short walk. I didn't even sweat at all. Haha!

I decided to just go to the gym in the afternoon. There was a Combat class at Westgate. The instructor is one of the good ones. At least, I was able to get a workout today.

From Westgate, I headed back home and have spent the last few hours in front of my laptop - sorting photos, writing, doing research.

Today is a good day. :)

Cheese overload on a Friday night...

Without any concrete plans for tonight and since I can't have a really late night, I decided to catch the 7PM screening of this Thai film at JCube.

I saw the poster for the film when PG Boy and I were at Plaza Sing recently. The poster was enough to pique my curiosity. Haha!

PG Boy is overseas this weekend so I could pretty much plan stuff that I want to do. And I wouldn't have to drag him to watch a cheesy film. Hehe!

I thought the writing of the film was really good. The usual formula is there but somehow, the director and the writer were both able to make the film work. The male lead and the male supporting lead also somehow remind me of Gardo Versoza and Allen Dizon, respectively. (Goes to show how young I am. Haha!)

I was on the edge of my seat as to how the film was going to end. I was quite sure I wasn't the only one because there was always a collective reaction within the cinema. It's just sad that there were only about 20 of us enjoying the film.

Aside from the cheesiness, the other thing I loved about the film was that it brought back memories of two university volunteer programs - Gurong Pahinungod and Summer Immersion Service Program.

The former was a one-year volunteer program whereby university graduates are deployed to rural parts of the Philippines to teach. I dunno if it is still around. I hope so. The latter, on the other hand, was a program I handled for a few summers. It involved deploying university students to remote parts of the country to live with the community, to immerse, to see life outside of the comforts of one's home in the city, to learn outside of the four walls of the university. It's a program deeply close to my heart as it really inculcated in me values which up to now I carry.

In the film, the scenes that showed the countryside, living without electricity, without mobile phone signals, without the Internet, were something that were all too familiar. It really put a smile on my face.

Also, the film further reinforced my love for the countryside.

Overall, The Teacher's Diary was an enjoyable film to watch. I add it to my list of other fave Thai films such as Seven, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Beautiful Boxer, Rainbow Boys, Iron Ladies 1 and 2, and of course, Love of Siam. ;)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Good memories brought back by a tea towel...

It's a bit amusing how an image can bring back memories of the past. Haha!

The other day, I was at a friend's place to get some files for my new hard drive. After I set up the HD with his laptop and started the copy process, I stood up and had a look around his room.

The first thing I noticed was a framed image of a unicorn in a cage. I've seen the image before and it took a splitsecond for me to remember.

It was an image of one of the invaluable tapestries on display at the Cloisters gallery of the Met. My friend bought a tea towel with a print of the tapestry as a souvenir, I guess. He thought it was too pretty to be a tea towel so he decided to put it in a frame. I must say it was a good decision.

The Unicorn in Captivity was introduced to me by someone I met several years ago. He and I shared a great interest in museums and the arts so he thought I would appreciate reading on the conservation works done by the Met on the Unicorn Tapestries series. And I did.

Having seen the image again, I recalled other pleasant memories - CBTL Gateway, Ateneo, Bare the musical. Lol! I dunno what happened to him but I do know that I want to see the Unicorn tapestries in real life. Maybe next year?

Here is the link in case anyone wants to read it. Quite lengthy, but very interesting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Crispy pata craving on a Saturday night...

Last Saturday, one of my good friends here in SG said he was craving for crispy pata. I dun really know where to get crispy pata in SG except in Lucky Plaza and at Gerry’s Grill in Cuppage.

My friend then suggested we go to the Filipino food place across i12 in Katong. However, I told the pair that that place is no longer (I think).

Somehow, we ended up going to one of my fave zi char places in Singapore - Le Chasseur. Thankfully, the place offered crispy pork knuckles. That alone was enough for the group to decide to go there. PG Boy is not a fan of anything oily and he also avoids pork most of the time. The good thing about Le Chasseur is that they have a lot of other dishes to offer.

In addition to the crispy pork knuckles, we also ordered coffee pork ribs, prawn paste chicken and coffee pork ribs. We initially ordered kangkong with samba but meiyou already. Sad, sad.

Le Chasseur used to be located at New Bridge Road across Clarke Quay Central. Some time last year, it moved to Eunos industrial estate. For what reason, I dunno. The Eunos place is a lot bigger though with no AC. Hehe. Also, I’m not sure if the owners added any staff to be able to serve the number of customers. It took some time for the dishes to come out of the kitchen.

Thankfully, the food is still good and enjoyable. It was also not expensive. There were five of us and each one only had to shell out about $15. Not bad at all.

From Le Chasseur, we headed to a newly-opened drinking place along Guillemard Road near Sunny Spring. The name of the place is Tuckshop and it’s located at the corner of Guillemard and Lorong 36. It was extremely warm that night so we all enjoyed the ice cold beer. Also, we decided to stay there since we weren’t heading anywhere else after. It was okay to be a little sweaty. Haha! The place is actually nice. It has that feel of a pub in Club Street but in this case, it’s tucked in some corner along Guillemard.

Great Saturday night!

The Tuckshop
403 Guillemard Rd S399795

Le Chasseur
27 Eunos Road 2
Singapore 409387

Monday, May 12, 2014

Docent training with Guggenheim's Director of Education...

While almost everyone I know back in Manila (including my own family) celebrated Mother's Day, I was at faraway Gillman Barracks and attended a whole day docent training for a special exhibit.

No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia is the inaugural exhibit of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. The exhibit was first presented at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The exhibit then traveled to Hong Kong before arriving in Singapore.

We had two speakers for the day. In the morning, the curator June Yap talked about all the works on display. She started by giving a backstory on the homeland of each artist. This was followed by talking about the art work. It was quite interesting.

I must say though that the afternoon session was much more enjoyable and inspiring. Guggenheim Museum's Director of Education Sharon Vatsky spent a few hours talking to the group about possible ways to guide for the exhibit. It was such a fantastic session. After a brief talk at the conference room, we moved to the exhibit venue where she conducted a walkthrough for us. It is just amazing how we spent a little over an hour discussing just three works.

Aside from learning about the exhibit, I certainly picked up a lot of other ideas that may be used when guiding for the museum. I was really glad I got to attend the session. If that was how sessions are conducted in contemporary art museums, then I am quite sure more people will be open to understanding and even possibly appreciating contemporary art.

Another interesting thing about the exhibit is that it seems fitting that it is staged in Singapore since most of the artists feature come from this region. Two paintings by Filipino artists Poklong Anading and Norberto Roldan are included in the exhibit. I met Norberto Roldan several years ago at Green Papaya gallery. He sold me 5 collages by Geraldine Javier. I also became a frequent visitor of the gallery and eventually bought a few more pieces by Mariano Ching and Jonathan Olazo. Really glad to see his work here in Singapore.

No Country touches on themes such as ethno-nationalism, national identity in an age of globalisation, to name a few. The 22 works on display include paintings, sculpture, photography, video, and installation. The exhibit will run until July 20 at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Singapore, a national research centre of Nanyang Technological University.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

See you again soon, Borobodur...

Hey, Borobodur. Looks like I'll be seeing you again.

Last year, I promised my Mom that I'll take her on a holiday again this year. I told her that we'll go to Angkor Wat this year. Seeing the temples of the Angkor complex is her ultimate dream. (At least, I think that is her ultimate dream.)

However, that plan had to be postponed to next year. Mom, of course, was okay with it. She doesn't complain about anything.

I told her that we'll just probably see Borobodur this year.

Luckily, I was able to find some really cheapo tix via AirAsia. I dunno why the flights to Siem Reap are damn ex! Lol!

Anyway, those flights to Yogyakarta will be booked today.

Timing is just perfect since those tix will be Mom's Mother's Day pressie. Hehe! TYL!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Brussels on my mind...

I'm at Cathay right now and it's still a bit early to go to the gym for class.

Finally, I found the time to go through my Brussels photos and edit it down to a little over 100 photos for Facebook. Haha!

Brussels was another city I fell in love with. I think the trip also made it clear that I like small, clean cities. At least that was what PG Boy told me.

People say a day in Brussels is enough. Just like they say 2 days in Rome are enough. No, no, no. Haha! One has to spend certainly more than one day in Brussels (and certainly more than 2 days in Rome!).

I will definitely be back.

When I return, I want to include a day in Antwerp and two days in Bruges and Ghent.

I love you, Belgium.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Vermeer and Rembrandt at the Rijks...

"You probably 'died' so many times during your trip," said one of my friends to me.

This friend was commenting on my photo with a Van Gogh painting and how I said that I just died seeing the painting in real life.

I have to agree with my friend. I died over and over again so many times during the trip.

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to see the works of great artists mankind has ever known.

As a kid, and I've said this so many times in previous posts, I've been exposed to the art world at a young age being the son of an artist.

I remember being an admirer of Filipino artists like Carlos "Botong" Francisco, H. R. Ocampo, Guillermo Tolentino, Napoleon Abueva, and of course, Fernando Amorsolo. I was surrounded by art growing up. My father painted. Our next door neighbour was a father-and-son tandem of gifted sculptors - Anastacio Caedo and his son Boy Caedo.

Eventually, I got to know about the artists from Europe such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, and so on. In UP, I excelled in my Humanities II class. It was a class I always looked forward to because we talked about art and art history. For one of my midterm exams, I did an oral analysis of a Degas painting of ballerinas. For my final grade (and if I remember correctly), I got a 1.25.

Here's a confession though: I never thought that I would one day come face to face with the works of these artists.

It's not because I didn't have dreams. It was because I was brought up to be content with what we have. It had its good side and it had its not-so-good side. Looking back now, I am glad to have been exposed to individuals who believe that life is what we make of it, that we should dream and dream big. Otherwise, I wouldn't be aiming for bigger things.

My first Van Gogh was at the National Museum of Singapore a few years back. It was during the Dreams & Reality exhibit that featured pieces from the Musée d'Orsay. Seeing the works of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists was a dream that became a reality.

Some time last year, I visited the Pinacotheque exhibit at Fort Canning Hill twice. Again, I came face-to-face with the works of Monet, Van Gogh, Warhol, Picasso and so on.

So, it was only natural that the Europe trip will be packed with visits to the museum. All in all, I visited a total of 11 museums in a span of 12 days. Of these 11 museums, 5 were the homes of great artworks.

Above are 8 of the awesome paintings from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The first four are by Johannes Vermeer, while the last four are by Rembrandt van Rijn.

Vermeer's The Milkmaid was one of the pieces we discussed in Humanities II. He has always been a great master of lighting and composition. It is awesome how Vermeer was able to transform a daily routine into something that can be read as either poetic, iconographic or just simply practical.

The other Vermeer I really adored was Woman in Blue Reading A Letter. Again, his skill in lighting and composition can be seen in this work.

The four Rembrandt portraits are a few of the many Rembrandts on display at the Rijksmuseum. To be honest, I prefer these over The NightWatch. I feel that Rembrandt was able to show more of his skill in the portraits. But that's just me. Haha!

These are just eight of the I dunno how many paintings that I marvelled at during the trip. The Rijksmuseum was the second museum we visited in Amsterdam, and this was just during the second day of the trip.

I thought I'd be museum-ed out but I wasn't when it came to viewing art pieces. In fact, I wished I had more time to spend in the museums to just admire the pieces.

More art pieces to be posted soon...

Monday, May 5, 2014

About Amsterdam: Part 3...


A day before going back to the Nanyang region, we spent a beautiful Sunday morning in the panoramic Zaanse Schans. A neighbourhood in Zaandam, the village outside of Amsterdam is home to windmills, traditional crafts, museums, and a dining place that serves good Dutch pancakes.

Zaanse Schans only reinforced one thing that was already clear to me - I will retire in the countryside (and run a B&B?).

The things I wrote about here, here and here are among the best experiences of the Amsterdam leg of the trip.

Aside from these, the leisurely walk around the canal streets, a walk in Vondelpark and at the park just outside of the Rijks, a short canal cruise were the other highlights of the trip. It must also be said that the Dutch (and the Belgians) left a very good impression on me - very friendly people and helpful to tourists.

By the time we were at Schiphol waiting to board our Emirates flight back to Singapore, it was crystal clear to me that I love the city. Rome may have initially captured my heart but Amsterdam stole it away.