January 30, 2009

On Pause.

Since the writers strike that paralyzed a whole lot of television shows last year, I noticed that TV series seem to go on pause a lot....and it's so darned frustrating!!!! I don't get why they no longer are "regular", the way tv shows used to be. I remember shows like Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place. No matter what, you know that there is a new episode waiting for you the following week.

Now, however, there are a lot of pauses. Take Grey's Anatomy for example. After two or three new episodes, there is a break, one or two weeks with no new episode but more darned reruns. According to a friend of mine, Chuck did the same thing. No new episodes till February or something, and it's not end of season.

To be honest, much as I still love the shows, it's making me lose momentum. Maybe I should switch to DVD's. Haaaaay. to continue reading...

January 28, 2009

Project 365: ...said Little Miss Snapshot...

The year in pictures.

This is the goal. Inspired by my so-called-uncomplicated-friends project, I decided to give it a shot too. Project 365 is simply said, a photo log of the year. As said by, take a photo a day and see your life in a whole new way. And so my photo blogging began.

I have to give credit to Janine for this. Not only did the idea come from her, but I get a lot of my shot ideas and my photoshop techniques from her. With that said, I invite you to take a peek at my own project 365.

Drop by and see Yapatoots' Project 365 entitled "...said Little Miss Snapshot..." This is what my year in pictures has got to say. Although it started a little later than the calendar year, I still will keep it as a year long log of photos. Keep tabs on it as the days go by. Who knows...maybe I can inspire you to start your own! to continue reading...

January 26, 2009

Welcome Year of the Earth Ox!

While New Year's Resolutions are usually reserved for the first of the year, the heralding of the Chinese New Year makes me realize how many changes I really need to make in my life...

So while these are not really resolutions, they are my New Years Realizations and some sort of a battle plan to try to make these realizations more than just head knowledge.

1. I realize I spend too much money uselessly. Three top wasters: DVD's, school supplies and food. Okay, granted the latter two tend to fall within the realm of "necessities", I tend to go overboard. To battle this: limit trips to bookstore...and be more practical when scheduling food trips.

2. In connection with the first one, I realize I have to take my finances more seriously. This is not necessarily just a response to the global economic crisis and recession, but I think I have to start being serious about what I do with my money. Battle plan: leave credit card at home!

3. I realize I still keep falling back into old patterns, especially those that make me cling too closely to my comfort zone. Combat plan: GO ADVENTURES!!! Starting to plan these out now...just gotta work it with the budget hehe!

For the most part, I realize that I tend to go with the flow and just let life happen to me. This 2009, I am making a change...and this will definitely change my life for the better!

And here is the rest of it. to continue reading...

January 22, 2009

As the Obama Rises

Like many other Filipinos and millions more worldwide, I fought my way to see American President Barrack Obama's inauguration. While others battled cold and distance, I battled sleep, as it was past midnight when the ceremonies finally began.

Being a proud Filipino, one who gave up a green card at that, I was never one to really relish America. While I may be more Ugly Betty over Betty La Fea, being true to my roots has always been very important to me. However, as I watched the first African-American man take the oath of office, I could not help but be awed by America's progress and power.

To be honest, I did not even want Obama to be the democratic candidate (not that it really would have made much of a difference to me. Nonetheless, I truly wished Hillary Clinton would have been the candidate for one simple reason: she was a woman. I figured, American politics didn't really matter to me, so go for something I could actually care about (which was Women's empowerment). When Obama won the nomination and McCain picked Palin to be his running mate, who do you think I wanted to win then? Of course, I went McCain. Well, this was just the woman in me speaking.

Anyway, despite my personal preference to have a woman in power, I realized that politics is really much bigger than me (like, duh!). With that said, I eagerly anticipated the outcome of Novembers election, and was, like the rest of the world, honored to see the rise of Barrack Obama.

During his inauguration, I could not help but be awed and amazed at the pomp and circumstance of the whole ceremony. I was also, in a small way, glad to see the little fibs and falters made throughout the program. From the late start which saw Obama become president even without his oath of office yet, to the mistakes in the actual oath taking. It gave me a more human view of American politics.

If there was one thing, though, that made me appreciate staying up late despite knowing I would struggle through work the next morning, was the commentary in CNN while they were doing the countdown to the inauguration.

One particular comment that struck me (pardon the editing, this is how I remember it best) was the one that said something to the effect that since there is a black president, little white children will look at little black children differently.

This resounded with me because I know how it is like to be viewed as different just because I was not white. When I studied in the US for 9th grade, I did feel that I was seen different. To be fair, I wouldn't call it discrimination per se, because the people were actually nice to me, but perhaps it was more of a "looking down upon", like I was not as good as them. For instance, on my second day of school, we had a quiz in chemistry. Much as I sucked in chem, I was able to get a decent score, higher than my seatmate. Then he accused me of cheating. I responded that the only reason I looked at him during the test was because he was looking through his notebook during the test. I had no idea it was an open book test. Bottom line: without notes I still did better than him.

It was also a great thing to hear on national television because if you stop and think about it, how many African American role models are there on tv? Not much...just look at their TV shows...most are still Caucasian. Sure there are comedies and other characters that are black, but not as much. Bottom line: now there is someone great to look up to.

That comment was followed up by something like "now African American children have someone else to look up to other than Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods" and that now that there is someone else, and someone in a different field, can be an inspiration to them. So true!

It is true that Obama breaks many barriers. It goes beyond color. For one, he comes from a multiracial background. Plus his parents were divorced. Despite this, look at his success. I say this because many children of broken families tend to blame the breakdown of their own failures. I personally think he can serve as a challenge and, perhaps, a testament to what family values are.

In conclusion I must admit that this time, America has really awed me. Let's see how change really can happen as the Obama (administration) rises. to continue reading...

January 18, 2009

Shopaholic Goes Online!

In the past few days since I got Poppie (a.k.a. my new HP Pavilion...decided to name it Poppie on account of the brand and the fact that my sales of Orange Poppy Seed muffins contributed a lot to its purchase. More on that next time), I've spent a lot of time browsing the web. New discovery: online shopping!

Being a skeptic about shopping on the net, I've never really browsed the search engines or what not for items I needed, but as I was exploring, I came across a new and interesting way of shopping online...let me call it the Wiki Way of Shopping. Why the wiki way? Well, mainly because the site is called ShopWiki, which tells me that shopping here would be easy, as that's what the word "wiki" for me connotes. Like other wiki sites, it's user friendly, informative and well organized.

So with that, the shopaholic in me decided to do some shopping.

As a preschool teacher one of the many things I look for are great educational toys. Through this wiki way of shopping I got a whole lot of information with just a mouse-click. What I liked best about the site, however, was not just the listing of stores in which these toys (and other products) were available, but they also feature a buying guide. These guides explain the value or purpose This allows the buyer to make a more educated decision about things they are looking for.

Another thing that makes this site unique, in my opinion, is that it is more than just a shopping site. Unlike the typical online shopping sites I occasionally browse, this one is almost like a research center as it informs you about a product you are searching for, without necessarily giving you a "sales talk" as to why you should get one particular brand over another. I think it's because of the fact that it is more of a search engine that actually crawls the web. Plus it actually relies on buyers to give reviews on products and items. Talk about taking shopping to a whole new level! Go shopping the Wiki Way! to continue reading...

January 17, 2009

I Am an Artist!

Tonight I attended the launch of Art In Site Magazine, a magazine for, by and about Filipino artists. As a little backgrounder, last year, around July (or so, if I remember right) they sent an email blast asking all artists to send in their works as part of the Covers Project, an ambitious undertaking in which the editors aimed to gather 3000 artists and have them showcase their piece as a cover of the magazine. All forms of art were welcome: drawings, sketches, photos, essays...the list was endless.

You see, their goal was to have the initial issue with 3000 unique and original covers. With that said, I sent in 2 pieces, one a mandala drawing in pen entitled "A Million Pieces of Me" and another, an article I wrote about being a teacher in the Philippines. Although as I understand, the magazine did not meet its target of 3000 artists, but they still had a good turnout of about 1700 artists.

This evening, during the launch, 400 of the pieces were on display in Ayala Museum…and yes, mine was one of them!

Unfortunately I could not afford to buy the magazine, as it was selling for 3000pesos. I didn’t think it was worth it because for one, I have the original piece as I sent in a photo of it only, and two, it’s not really “printed” as a cover, but inserted in a small flap. It was inserted “as is”, meaning, it was the photo I sent (which incidentally cost only 60 pesos to print hehe!) Nevertheless, it was a big thrill seeing my work on display, as well as on the big screen where they flashed many other works. Especially exciting were works submitted by my cousins, Tanya and Gabbie, and Gabbie's boyfriend Blaez!

works by Maria Andrea Tirazona and Blaseus Ong

works by Tanya Escaler and Gabbie Saenz
As an added thrill for me, the editors informed me earlier on that other piece I sent was not included as a cover anymore…because it was too nice to be just a cover. They asked if they could print it in the magazine. Although I was slightly disappointed it was not in this issue, I am excited as according to the editor, hopefully it will be on the 2nd issue, which comes out in April.

the artists Bee, Blaez and Ria to continue reading...

How I Saved Php 50,000.

In the spirit of the quintessential shopaholic, Becky Bloomwood (from the Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella), I saved a lot of money today. Sure I had to spend some to save it, but nonetheless I did save a bundle...

You see, it all began one fateful day when I walked into the Power Mac Center at Greenbelt. This happened a few months after I had fully paid for my MacBook. There, sitting on the shelves, was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen...a 20-inch, white trimmed powerhouse...the iMac. Fiddling with the slimmest keys I've ever seen, and attempting to use the wireless optical mouse, I fell in love.

Then came the price tag. And my heart sank. Still, I sucked it in and asked, "how much more do I need to add to get the Office for Mac installed". When the clerk informed me it would be another 9,000 php, all the hopes for the iMac flew out the window.

How did this save me money? Well, to put it simply, I reframed my thinking.
Now how did this help, you may ask.

Well, for one, I decided to look around. It took months to really allow myself to compromise with a PC. No offense to Microsoft. It was just after discovering Mac, and falling in love with the beauty of the white macs, it was difficult to go back to the older kinds of computers I used to know.

However, as I strolled the malls, still entering Mac stores every now and then, I saw the Acer and HP computers. Got me to thinking, "check it out, why don't you?". And so I did. Even then, it took a lot of self-talk, debate, and thinking for me to come to this conclusion: since one of my resolutions for 2009 is to be able to save Php 20,000 at the minimum, I shouldn't get the iMac. Instead, I should get the HP Pavillion. Why? It had good specs...It looked great...and I saved Php 50,000 in the process.

Talk about rationalizing!!! Mwahahaha!!!

Seriously, however, I am enjoying this new toy of mine immensely. Thus far, I still have to explore the many features of it. This is my first Vista experience as well. I'm liking it fine, despite negative feedback I've heard so far. To be fair, it is very pretty to look at hehe. I like the colors, the shapes and how the whole tabbed thing works.

Pavillion (still thinking of a nice name for this gadget of mine, any suggestions?) also came with a 19 inch LCD flatscreen monitor. This has been my favorite part! Although on one hand, it seems to me to be an admission of my getting older...hehe. The widescreen is truly a pleasurable experience! Oh, plus having a right click again makes doing stuff more convenient!

love viewing my site!!!

Don't know what to say about the whole operation and what not of the entire system, because I'm still figuring it out. Wait for further updates...will see if my savings was well worth it! to continue reading...

January 15, 2009

Yes? Yes...Yes!

"Yes is the new No"

This is what self-help guru Terrence Bundley preaches to a group of people seeking to make their lives better. In comes Carl Allen (played by Jim Carrey), a sad, single-bordering-on-pathetic man stuck in a dead-end job who all but stopped living life and was caught "no"where because all he ever did was say NO. After attending a YES MAN session, where he took a covenant to say "yes" to all opportunities that come his way, life began to happen once again for Carl Allen. From finding a great gal, learning new skills, getting a promotion, things started looking up for him. But what happens when all you do is say yes?

The film was a funny take on how saying yes can indeed change everything, and yet a gentle reminder of the power of free will and making a choice.

Yes Man has the typical flavor of a Jim Carrey flick (particularly Liar, Liar and Bruce Almighty), which can make it somewhat predictable and hackneyed. Nonetheless, it does have a lot of great scenes which will definitely crack you up. Definitely a whole lot of fun!

Overall, I'd rate it 3.5/5 stars. If you're looking for a flick for a casual movie date, or just a good way to wile away the time, go see it.

Personally, it got me to thinking (yes, even this slapstick comedy can get one to think!) about how many opportunities come my way and pass me by because I stick to what is comfortable and familiar to me already. One thing that stuck in mind was something the Alison (played by Zooey Deschanel) said (this is as best as I remember it!): "The world's a playground. You know that when you are a kid, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it".

So true, don't you think? We often get caught up in things we HAVE to do that we forget to take time out and enjoy life for what it is. Further, we tend to keep saying no to change, as change tends to be difficult and tiresome. Sure it may be interesting at times, but for the most part, it entails a lot of work. Then again, who said things always had to be easy, right?

So in the spirit of Yes Man, and with Yes being the new No, here are some things I'll try to say yes to...note: TRY!

1. Going to more blogger events, even if Janine won't be coming with me anymore. Oh, by the way, thanks again AZ for the invite to the movie. Can't wait for the next one!
2. Trying new things on the menu. I tend to be the type to order the same thing on the menu in many of the restaurants I go to. The thought behind it? Well, at least I know it's masarap. Pano kung hindi, sayang pambayad! (At least I know it's good...what if it's not? What a waste!)
3. New job opportunities. I've been teaching for the longest time, and the great thing about it is the fact that I can take on other jobs in between :-) Unlike desk jobs, I'm not limited to just that. Wonder what's around the corner?!? :-)
4. Blind dates/Dating. Remember: operative word here was TRY! Hahaha! Seriously though, given that I'm more of the stay-at-home, come-over type, this is a bit of a challenge. I'm tamad to dress up and all kaya!!!

Yes Man starring Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper and Terence Stamp
directed by Peyton Reed
Warner Bros. Pictures to continue reading...

January 11, 2009

Out with the Artist In Me

Among the many gifts 2008 (and my dark night of the soul) gave me was the discovery (or perhaps re-discovery) of the artist in me. Ok...I may be no future Pablo Picasso or Vincent Van Gogh, but I finally got the courage to get my work out there. While my writing (through the blogs and various pieces I sent for publication) was easier for me to share, my first attempt at showing others my artwork came from an internet invitation to send out art works to Art in Site Magazine, which is a magazine "for artists, by artists, about artists". After some prodding and encouragement from my cousin Bee, I sent my piece.

This Saturday is the magazines launch. I wonder how the whole exhibit would go, especially since there are so many artists involved in it...In any case, my first unveiling of the artist in me should be an exiting event! to continue reading...

January 6, 2009

Through the sands of time and back: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

From the captivating pictures, the amazing details of picturesque scenery, the costumes and make-up, and the tone of the story, from the characters’ speaking voices, the narration, the music, and the language which can only be described as melodic, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button can only be summed up as a cinematographic masterpiece that takes you on a picture perfect journey through time. Set in different periods of time, from the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina back to 1918 and the end of the First World War, the movie takes you to the present and back in three hours. For me, the experience was more like watching a storybook unfold right in front of me. In many ways, this is what I imagine being caught up in fantasy must be like. It takes you away from the present and brings you in to a world far and beyond where it is, and yet it was still grounded in reality so it made perfect sense, well, except of course for the curious case of this man.

Not being a big fan of either Brad Pitt or Cate Blanchett, or of period pieces for that matter, I have to admit this movie would not have been on the top of my “Movies to See” list. However, thanks to Janine who let me be her “plus one” for the evening and to Az for organizing the movie bloggers event, I got to see this movie.

Albeit the story did not captivate me much, the visually stimulating set and details of the story were more than enough to keep me glued to the screen, despite my tiredness. To be fair, the story had a good blend of wit, humor and drama that meshed very well. The delivery of punchlines every now and then in the movie would leave the audience laughing, while poignant scenes in the film surely would touch the heart.

I must commend Cate Blanchett’s graceful performance. Her elegant movements as she portrayed Daisy, a ballerina, drew me in. The subtle changes in Brad Pitt’s performance as Benjamin at each stage was quite commendable as well. I personally enjoyed seein
g Elle Fanning on the screen as she portrayed Daisy at seven years old. Although she had a very short role in the film, seeing her made me smile, mainly because she was so cute and touching, especially in the scene under the table where she saw beneath the physical exterior of Benjamin Button. Touching indeed.

Another favorite scene of mine was towards the end, when Cate was old and Brad was very young…

photo taken from

Putting it all together, although watching a movie in the cinema costs so much more compared to a DVD, do go see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in the big screen. Although it is almost three hours long, and it may not be the best film for 2009, it is one of the most visually beautiful films I’ve ever seen, and it would be a shame to see it only on a itty-bitty TV….unless of course you have a humongous flat screen LCD TV with high definition. to continue reading...

January 5, 2009

Tell Me a Story, Cigarette Girl

Over the past three years I have learned a lot from Cigarette Girl...I've learned to blog, for one, and to try out new things. I also learned to appreciate old favorites and past times, such as watching movies or reading books. She also taught me the fine art of photoshopping, and downloading stuff on the net, though I still have to learn how the darned torrents thing works hehe.

Anyway, today I ask her to tell me a story. Stories to be precise...As she purges her bookshelf and packs up her bags, I ask her for these three wishes so they can keep me company when she is away...

1. The Lovely Bones.
2. A Case of Need.
3. Red Dragon.

Why should I get these? Like I's something tangible to remember her by :-) Of the three I've only read the first one, and I want it for sentimental reasons. The other two are written by authors I've always enjoyed, hence my desire to have this in my collection.

Lastly, if I win, then Cigarette Girl would have taught me something new again: that sometimes all you need to do is ask and you get it :-)

I wonder though if this will work if I ask for Prozac Nation too... to continue reading...

January 4, 2009

Rediscovering Photoshop

Over the past few months, I've been dabbling with Photoshop. I haven't really had the time to sit down and fiddle with it to my hearts delight, however. Also, having my so called uncomplicated friend around (who is quite amazing with it!) has made me less than eager to really get to know it. However, since she's been busy with other stuff, plus the fact that she's leaving soon, and topped off with the notion that she can't do it for me forever, I decided to give it a shot.

Here's one of my major projects ;-) During the holiday break I decided to make a photo calendar for a friend who is leaving for Australia.

Can't wait to explore more...haven't even attempted the special effects and all yet!!! to continue reading...

January 1, 2009

Home for the Holidays

For the past eight years, I greeted the New Year basking under the warm Bora sun and celebrating with mega parties going on all around me with only the most amazing fireworks displays I've ever seen. Not that Manila does not have nice pyrotechnic displays, it's so different when you see it with no distractions such as lamp posts, trees, and wires all around...just the open skies.

Given that introduction, suffice it to say that the last few days of the year since 2001 was always sunny and bright (except for that one rainy December two years ago) and spent literally lounging around and just relaxing and having fun. The only thing missing all those years was spending the New Year with Bubba.

However, this year, I found myself home for the holidays. I kinda didn't know what I would be doing at first especially since my usual companions were away for the holiday or have gotten used to not having me around. Then the perfect no-plan came along: "let's go on a food trip" said my JTRAPS friends. And so it was set. December 30, 2008, the perfect way to bid 2008 goodbye. I decided to let the gang handle all the planning, and just to go with the flow. The only known plans was that meeting place would be in front of DLSU in Taft at 9 am. So I texted P and T to schedule a meet-up so we can go together. To my dismay, T had to back out due to "circumstances beyond her control". Much as this put a damper on things, we decided to push through and just see how it goes. So P and I met up at 8 (and yes, first time ever, ako yung late!!!) When we got to DLSU, we were surprised with the fact that McDonald's was closed so we decided to wait it out in Starbucks. For me, this was the start of my gastronomical experience. Had a tall Cafe Mocha, which gave me just the right kick of caffeine to start the day.

trying out P's new camera while waiting

At 9 A and J came, and again, we got another bit of disappointment when we found out S went up to Sagada and would not be joining us for this (as P puts it) gastronomical flavors of the north. So anyways, we headed off to Quezon City, all the while A still kept mum about where we would go.

Finally, after checking out a few stops that were still closed at 9:30 am, it was decided that Stage 1 of the food trip would commence at Mr. Kebab, all the way at West Avenue. We almost missed the place because a. half of us had no idea where it was, and b. we were talking and laughing way too much in the car.

In order to successfully work out our un-plan of food tripping (plus cost-efficiency as well!) we decided to get stuff to share so we can try out a lot of different things in all the places we go to. We ended up getting an order of keema (yummy), ox brain with their roti (I think that's what it's called), and a yogurt shake. Yummy enough, but not super yummy for me ;-) Next time maybe I'll try a kebab or something. Total expenditure thus far: 112.50 per person.

With some food in our bellies, we started plotting out our next venue for food domination. Given that I am the dessert fanatic, I didn't stop making kulit until A agreed to take me to 5 Cows in Trinoma, a dessert place I've always wanted to go to. Added bonus was the fact that I had long wanted to see Trinoma as I've never been there.

I gotta admit, I was kinda disappointed with Trinoma, as I expected much, much more. Nonetheless I loved the resto! Super cute lay out and a fridgefull of desserts. HEAVEN!!! P and J loved their rocky almond bar, but were not so keen on the Ferrero Crunch. I loved, loved, loved my Belgian Chocolate Mint Ice Cream. Expenditures: about 180-200 per pax. This was probably the most expensive place we went to hehe...especially since this was a non-sharing kinda food!!!

Next stop was the famous Bite Club in Katipunan Avenue. When I was still a student in UP, I wanted to check it out, but because it's a bit hassle to get to, I never got the opportunity. For about 200 bucks, you get a giant (I mean GINORMOUS!) burger. Flame broiled, tender and juicy...yummy!!! A got his own burger (he still had a lot of tummy space since he didn't get dessert) but P, J and I shared a Bombarella.

By this time I could barely breathe from all that food!!!

But off we went to our next stop: Morning Sun Eatery. It's a little turo-turo in a street parallel to Katipunan, just a corner behind Bite Club. However, since we were still super full, we decided to take the food with us to A's secret hideaway.

the animals feasting in the park

I have to admit: it was one of the best barbeque's I've tasted. For 20 pesos, you get a pretty large bbq that's really yummy!!! We also tried out the liempo, which P loved the most, but it was just average for me.

Again, the dessert queen's sweet tooth acted up and we decided to go off to Chocolate Kiss in UP after our late lunch (which coincidentally happened after our hour-long walk/tour/camwhoring in Nature Parks and Wildlife...who would have thought there is such a beautiful hideaway in the middle of the city!!!)

We had two stops in UP. I was really glad to have the chance to go back to the university where I graduated from, and a lot of things have changed, yet a lot still remained the same. We first had dessert (again) in Chocolate Kiss then proceeded to the famous isawan in front of Kalayaan Residence Hall.

I was a bit disappointed that P and J didn't enjoy their desserts so much, because those were my favorite ones! They only enjoyed the Devil's Food Cake while they were unhappy with the yummy sour cream cheesecake and Kahlua butter cake.

We decided to walk off the full tummies to the isawan so J could be initiated into the fine art of street cuisine. She gamely tried a pork and chicken isaw. Lesson from this stop: may listahan pala sa Mang Larry's, so before you order, ask the girl to take down your order!!!

Although we repeatedly asked "talaga bang mag lalamb chop pa tayo for dinner?" after having our isaw's we got back into the car and headed towards Javi's in Sikatuna Village. I used to live in that area but that was a big surprise for me. I think at that time it wasn't there yet. It's right across the old Glo-ri supermarket. We had the most amazing lamb chops for less than 200 pesos. Ok, it's not the best quality, fine dining lamb chops, but it was soft, tasty and filling. No doubt worth the bucks!!!

It was past 8 when we made it back to Taft...which made our food trip a 12-hour adventure. Talk about a gastronomical feast, all for only 700 bucks, give or take a few pesos! It was a great end to 2008...and while I do miss the Bora fare (Jonah's fruit shakes, Aria's pizza's and Margaritas in Cocomangas), this was one food trip for the books! to continue reading...

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