Monday, November 30, 2015

Cerebrally ALDUB

I was a late fan. In a sense that I became a serious fan only after their second meeting (yes, the kidnap episode). I've known of Aldub ever since their inception as I closely follow Maine Mendoza during her Dubsmash days. Back then, I was there just for her and paid her screen partner, Alden Richards, little mind.

But my perception changed when I saw real "kilig" in Alden's expression during their "kidnap" episode. He suddenly became more handsome before my very eyes and he continues to change as the days passes. Here's a youtube clip of what I mean (go to 1:26). That smile is now known as one of his kilig smiles.

Much has been said about their tandem and how far they have come this last four months. I was there during Ang Tamang Panahon at the Philippine Arena and it was one of the most powerful and intense events that I have ever witnessed.

I closely follow their episodes and have bought all the magazines that has featured their tandem. A friend knowing of my fascination with the couple even had a fan sign made out for me (see picture at the top of this post).

Friends are puzzled over my fascination over their love team. I myself am wondering why I'm going gaga over them when I was never like this while growing up. Even when my favorite actors or celebrities are in town, I won't exert the same amount of effort that I'm giving for Alden and Maine. Other than the hardship that we encountered just to get to Bulacan, I also went out of my way to visit them at Alabang Town Center just to watch them film their movie.

Maybe it's because I feel happy whenever I watch them. Maybe because their chemistry blurs the line between real and reel. Maybe because they look good together and they're actually falling for each other--and watching that love bloom is something beautiful to behold. Whatever the reason, I hope to still be here when/if they end up together and even if they don't. Both of them are such humble people and I do not regret giving them my support and adoration.

My ultimate fan dream is to have a picture taken with them. Of course, I would also want them to end up with each other but who are we to dictate their feelings? But if the behind-the-scenes takes are to be believed, then that is not far coming. Never have I wanted for two people to end up with each other as I do with Maine and Alden.

US 2015 - West Coast Edition

This is my third time in the US since I got married 8 years ago. The first time was in 2011 when I visited with my husband. The second time was just last year when we attended the ordination of Leo's cousin. This time around, my visit was to celebrate my 40th birthday with my twin sister at Vegas. This was totally unplanned in a sense that my mom and I only put everything into motion three months ago. Usually, our US trips are planned almost a year in advance.

Initially, I was supposed to surprise my sister at Vegas (she's supposed to go there on the 1st with my mom for a convention). But due to extenuating circumstances (a death in the family which almost lead me to go NYC instead--which I was not looking forward to since it's SO cold there), my mom had to inform my sister which ruined the surprise. We ended up still pushing thru with the Vegas plan.

I'm now in California staying with my mom's brother and his family. The last time I was here was almost 30 years ago when I was 11 years old. I remember my mom just putting me in the plane from NJ and my Uncle Dan just picking me up at the airport where I stayed with him and his family for two weeks. I don't recall much about that visit except a visit at Universal. This time around, I was able to visit the tourist places and even had my first taste of Thanksgiving, US version.

Will post more when I am able to download my pictures from the phone.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Farewell, Michael

Me with my friend, Michael

I am not a fan of farewells, unless I'm saying goodbye to something awful (like this August 2015). But it's hard to say goodbye when it's something that made a difference in your life. That difference is my friend, Michael.

Almost twenty years ago, my family transplanted from Paranaque to Mandaluyong. It's only a mere 20 kilometers away but it felt like a different world. Growing up in a city of open spaces and manicured gardens, we transferred to a place where you can hear your neighbors argue and it was the first time that I saw people trying to kill each other. It was a big culture shock for us but we kept to ourselves and tried to stay out of trouble.

A few years into our residency, I joined Singles for Christ with my sisters and from there, I was invited to also serve at Villa San Miguel (Archbishop's Palace) as part of their choir. Singing was an accidental talent for me as I never thought I had one but I was encouraged by my friends to join, so I did.

Even if I was an outsider, I felt like I belonged and was easily befriended by the community which comprises of mostly people living near the church. It was also there that I met the Juyad siblings. I was so fascinated with them because their whole family was serving the church in different capacities (choir, altar server, lector, reader etc). They're also a close bunch which made me admire them more. Michael made an impression because not only was he friendly, he was also quite funny and livened up our practices with his antics and Mark Logan impersonations. His bass voice was also very distinct and when he and his brother joined forces, it made us sound like we're close impressions of the Madrigal Singers (in our dreams)! :)

Probably my most memorable moment with him was when my family was going through a rough patch. I remembered that it was an Easter Sunday and we were seated outside the chapel after mass. I can't recall what we were talking about but I suddenly started crying. He just offered his shoulder and let me cry it out and gave his words of wisdom. It was one form of kindness that I could not forget and one I could never repay. 

When I paid my last respects earlier at Loyola during my lunch break (same place 4 months ago where I personally offered my condolences when his younger sister died and 2 years ago when their mom passed away), I started crying when I opened the door and saw two of his siblings. His youngest sister immediately approached me and gave me a hug. I found it so touching when I should be the one offering comfort but his family ended up comforting me instead. I could not approach the coffin yet as I knew I would not be able to stop my pitiful sobs and I needed to be strong for my friends. So I sat down and listened to their stories of Michael's last moments as well as updating them of what has been happening to my life for the past 10 years. When my lunch break was almost up, I knew I had to approach the casket to say goodbye.

For the past few years that I've been visiting funeral homes, I barely know the people who were laid out in those steel (or even wooden) boxes except that I'm friends with their respective families. But this time, it's different. It was a person who had so much life and was a big source of inspiration to a lot of people, especially his students who all seem to love him (basing on the multitudes of posts on his Facebook wall).  I stood there for several minutes, saying my last goodbyes and fortunately, drier-eyed. Like all people in death, he did not look like the way he was when he was still alive. He was thinner due to his illness and of course, the added make-up did not help at all. In my mind, he was Michael, a person full of joy and happiness and that is the Michael who I will remember for the rest of my life.

When I said goodbye to the family, we started crying again and they expressed their thanks for my presence and for keeping in touch throughout the years even if I live so far from the city (with the traffic, it really feels like a hundred miles away). I could barely stutter through my words of condolences as my tears were clogging my throat.

Goodbye, Michael. Know that you are very much loved by those whose lives you have irrevocably touched. May you be an angel like your namesake and watch over us until we meet again.

November 3, 1978 - September 9, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Nakikiramay Ako

January 25, 2015 was one of the bloodiest days in our Philippine modern history. 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers were killed in a deadly encounter with militants belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). They were killed at Mamasapano, Maguindanao after conducting an operation where they eliminated a known terrorist bomber.

When the news came out last Monday, I ashamedly ignored it at first as the Mindanao clashes are already common news. But when stories started trickling in my FB feed and I read the accounts of what happened, I knew I cannot be apathetic to it no longer. Being a fan of NCIS, I am familiar with how fallen heroes should be honored and the SAF 44 are no different.

courtesy of
These SAF 44 served and protected our country and they should be honored as heroes. We are safe because of their efforts. We enjoy moments of peace because of their sacrifice. They should never be forgotten and justice should be served for their violent deaths.

What really made me weep today was when I watched the eulogy of one of the SAF 44's widow. Her words were so true and she uttered one of the best quotes, "Behind every brave SAF trooper is a strong wife." From everything that I know of soldiers, being a spouse of one requires a degree of bravery more than your soldier. Everyday, you would watch your husband leave your house without knowing whether he will be coming back to you alive or in a coffin. Her bravery, as well as that of the other wives, are admirable and heartbreaking.

I pray for all the fallen heroes and the families that they left behind.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Diet 2015

I'm at it again. This will be my nth attempt to lose weight. This time around, I'm more adamant and steadfast in doing so as I am turning 40 later this year. I want to say that I lost a significant amount of weight before my birthday--some sort of bucket list.

I started my diet last Wednesday with the help of my sister based abroad. Thank God for Viber and Facebook because it's so easy to get in touch with each other. Hopefully, I will get to sustain this and eventually lose the much unneeded weight.

If I'll be successful, I'll definitely blog about it as well as the supplements that I'm taking.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Cooking Mama (Part 2)

It seems that it's only during Christmas season that I get to practice my cooking skills. (As proof, it was in Christmas also of 2012 that I was able to cook as much which I wrote about here.) I've cooked and learned to cook several dishes last month and I'm so proud that I was able to get the taste right. Here are the dishes/pastries that I was able to make:

1) Chicken Afritada
Chicken Afritada
 The chicken afritada I was able to cook a few days after Christmas when our cook and back-up cook (who also happens to be our driver), went on vacation. My mother-in-law asked me to make something for dinner and after scrounging around in the freezer, I found chicken and other ingredients for afritada.

I cheated a little by buying afritada mix and using that as the sauce base. With a little help from Google, I managed to come up with an edible and tasteful dinner. The potatoes and carrots were softened just right and the chicken was cooked to the bone. I think I added tomato sauce to the afritada mix. I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. The sauce tasted the way I wanted afritada to taste.

2) Carbonara
The spread on the right is part of our Christmas Day lunch. It was potluck so different members of my hubby's family brought the rest of the food.

The one that I cooked was carbonara (refer to the red arrow). I also cheated here by using ready made carbonara sauce but I mixed in all purpose cream as well as cream of mushroom. I also added pasta cheese while it was bubbling away. Afterwards, I sprinkled bacon on top and it tasted really delicious. It was cheesy and creamy. It must've been really good because it was gone in less than an hour.

3) Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Cookies
 The cookies on the left are actually my signature cookies. I've been baking them for as long as I can remember. I baked them again this Christmas so Basti can give them away as gifts to his classmates. I made the mistake of letting my son help and turning my back on him as the dough suddenly turned out to be really hard. I don't know if he put in more flour or if I overmeasured. I had no choice but to make another batch and that was enough for his 20+ classmates.

I changed the recipe this time around by substituting the one bag of choco chips (I use 2 12 oz bags in my recipe) with Reese peanut butter chips. It was a successful experiment as I love the additional taste of peanut butter in the cookies. Hopefully, I'll be able to replicate them again soon. I just love cooking for my son and this is one of his favorites.

4) Chocolate chip cupcakes
My top team gifted me with a Martha Stewart cupcake recipe book on my birthday. As I have never baked cupcakes before, I guess it's time that I learned how to do so and with the long break (which I wasted 3 days on bed because of my bum foot), I decided to test the recipes out.

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
The chocolate chip cupcakes were my first attempt. The taste was spot on however, there were some flaws with the result. For one, the choco chips sank to the bottom. I checked the recipe again and it DID say to roll the chips first in flour before adding them in the batter. I skipped that part and just dumped them in mixture.

Next, the icing was too soft. I wanted to use my new piping tips but the mixture was too soft. I didn't dare add any more confectioner's sugar as it was too sweet already. I just slathered them on and they still tasted decadent. Next time, I plan to get the Ghirardelli's chocolate buttons for that really yummy Belgium chocolate taste.

Another flaw was that I mixed the vanilla with the flour. As such, the vanilla formed little flour balls which you can taste with the cupcake. I don't know if I misread the recipe but I'll definitely will not do so again in my next attempt. 

One thing about the cupcakes, I finally was able to melt the chocolate buttons the way they were supposed to be melted. I always see them in cooking shows and how the bakers melt the chocolate. It absolutely looked wonderful when I did that. Unfortunately, I was not able to take a picture.

5) Kalabasa with Sitaw
Kalabasa with Sitaw
 The picture on the left is Kalabasa with Sitaw. I originally wanted the one with coconut milk but I did not want to risk it as I have never cooked with gata before.

My mother-in-law asked me again this morning if I knew how to cook kalabasa (squash). Again, thanks to Google, I was able to find a very easy recipe.

One thing I like about the recipe was that it taught me how to render the fat from the pork. I initially let the pork boil in 1/2 cup of water until all the water evaporated. When the oil came out, I took out the pork and used the same pot to saute the garlic and onions. It smelled absolutely delicious!

I then added the shrimp and the pork that I cooked. After letting it saute a little bit, I added the kalabasa and sitaw. I then added water and let the squash soften. For additional taste, I threw in a shrimp cube and salt and pepper. I initially wanted to use the shrimp heads in lieu of the cube but the helper threw them away before I could give the instructions. The recipe also asked for patis but I forgot to buy and we do not have any in our pantry.

6) No-Bake Cheesecake
No-Bake Cheesecake

The picture on the right is my no-bake cheesecake. I got the recipe from my friend, Johanna, and asked her to teach me how to make it. There were no exact measurements on the recipe and the reason why I'm so proud of it was that I got the taste just right.

The sweetness was just enough as I used sugar on both the crust and the cream filling. So I made sure not to overdo the sugar. I made the mistake of not using enough Knox Gelatin but it still tasted divine. My son said that this is his new favorite dessert and has not stopped asking for it ever since I made it.

7) Red Velvet Cupcakes
My red velvet cupcakes are more successful than my chocolate chip cupcakes. In fact, it's easier to make! It took me less than an hour to make this while the choco chip was so labor intensive.

I also got the icing right in terms of consistency and taste. I want to put it everywhere! However, I need to get a bigger cupcake tray as I want them bigger. The molds that I got were so small.

Hopefully this new year, I'll have more chances of cooking again and have more opportunities to learn new dishes.

Last Year as a 30-Something

I rarely enjoy my birthdays. In fact, I don't go to work during my actual birthday. I usually just go to mass, stay at home or go to the spa. Afterwards, have dinner with my family. Nothing spectacular. Just something to mark the occasion.

On my last year as a 30-something, I decided to go to work on my birthday. Because one, I've already ran out of leaves and second, I wanted to take my birthday leave somewhere near Christmas.

Good Morning!

The morning of December 3 started off somewhat disappointingly. I woke up at 430 in the morning because I got home so late the night before. My body clock is so weird that if I sleep past 11PM, I end up waking up one hour earlier than my 530AM wake-up time. I did my usual bathroom ritual and when I checked if my son was up, my son's yaya started giving me some crap about lost toys etc. I just shrugged and let her be. What made it more craptastic was that my son did not even greet me happy birthday! To be fair to him, he's only 5 so I won't expect him to remember those things. But I expected that his yaya or his dad should've prompted him the night before to greet me. They did it in the past so it shouldn't be any different with my birthday.

I then drove to church to hear mass and spent time ruminating about my birthday and I was so tempted to slip into depression mode--which is my usual penchant during my natal day. But I fought the feeling because I believe that happiness is a decision and I will not let a bad start influence how my day would turn out.

I went back home to change as I remembered I scheduled our department pictorial on that day. I surely do not want to appear in the pictures wearing an all black outfit. I changed into something lighter (if you would consider gray, lighter) and started the drive to work.

During the drive, a former colleague texted and her greeting made me cry. It's a quote by William Barclay: There are two great days in a person's life -- the day we are born and the day we discover why. I know already found my reason for living and my calling but on that day, it somehow made me doubt everything. I blame the melancholy for that.

While I was ruminating about the text, I received a voice call from another former colleague. Hearing her voice lifted my spirits and furthered my resolve to make the day the best ever!

At the Office

At my workstation with my top team
Since I attended mass, it was almost 9AM when I reached the office. I was surprised to see my workstation decorated as such. Though a part of me acknowledges that I somehow expected it considering I'm a boss, it was still a pleasant surprise.

My top team also gave me a book filled with cupcake recipes. I don't know if they are aware that baking is already a hobby but I appreciate the gift. I had them write their dedications to me on the book and I will definitely test the recipes out during the long break.

with my November celebrants
I was quite harassed that morning as I had to do a lot of updates considering I was out of the office the previous day. At lunch time, I had a scheduled lunch with my November celebrants as they invited me weeks prior.

During lunch, they surprised me again by having the waitstaff of Max's sing Happy Birthday to me. It was embarrassing to have everyone look at me while I was being presented with a cake but I truly appreciated the gesture. Little did I know that the surprises will keep on coming during the day.

Best Surprise

with my cakes presented by 2 members of my staff
When I got back to the office, I remembered that some of my staff scheduled a meeting with me to discuss our Department Christmas party a couple of days after my birthday. I was not even able to brush my teeth yet when they called me to the conference room.

They started discussing some problems when one of my team leaders entered the room. He said that he scheduled to use the conference room when the rest of my 50-strong department came inside with a couple of cakes. After blowing the candles on the cake, they said that they have another surprise for me. They then showed me the AVP that they made below.

Most of them are inside jokes but some skits are rather funny. I was touched by their gesture and the effort that they exerted to have this done. In fact, I was crying and laughing while watching the video. When they asked me to make a speech afterwards, I was barely coherent.

Like the past couple of years, we had merienda at the 3F where I treated them with my usual pancit, puto and lumpia.

with my son
Back home

Earlier in the day, I shared my disappointment with my hubby on how my son did not greet me. When I got home, he certainly made up to me by presenting me a bouquet of roses. I could not resist not to have a photo op.

I usually have dinner with my family on this day but my father in law was not available so we resolved to just schedule it on another day. 

Other Celebrations 

The next day, I had lunch with my top team at K-Pub, a Korean Barbeque restaurant a few meters from our office. I was again surprised by the singing waiters.

That weekend, my family and I stayed overnight at Crimson. My son loves hotels so it was a treat for him as well.

We were supposed to meet up with my college friends that same weekend but we were all under the weather so we met up a couple of weeks later.

I also had lunch with my bestfriend, Kay, over here at Acacia. She also had the waiterstaff surprise me with a birthday song.

Overall, it was the best birthday ever. It's the right way to celebrate my last year as a thirty-something because next year, life will definitely begin. I didn't have to throw a party to celebrate with my family and friends and I prefer it that way. The individual lunches and dinners made it more meaningful and I get to spend quality time with all of them.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

English Only, Please! Surely!

I don't usually watch MMFF movies, in fact, I can't remember the last time I watched one. Ten years ago, I would resent the festival as it would not let me watch my Lord of the Ring series until January. However, the recent years has shown an influx of quality movies. Though I was only able to watch one this year, it was definitely worth the P500 that I had to shell out.

Century City Mall Premiere
Since my husband refused to accompany me, I made plans with a friend to watch it at a mall that I haven't been before--Century City Mall. 
It's an upscale mall found in the middle of Makati's red light district--Kalayaan corner Makati Avenue. First time I saw a Pandora store and it also has Uniqlo and Cotton On--even TWG!

After having lunch at a Japanese restaurant, we found out that the movie is showing at the mall's premier cinema which costs P500 per ticket. It comes with unli popcorn and a 16oz drink. We were very pleased also with the seats as they were very comfy recliners. There as I was posing in the empty theater (we got the first showing and we were the first people inside the theater).


I first knew about the film after seeing the trailer above in my FB feed. I was charmed by the actors and the dialogue so I knew I had to watch it.

Even if the story might be familiar to some, I like the way it was presented. Julian (Derek Ramsey) searched online for a tutor to help him translate a hate letter into Tagalog and after an extensive search found Tere (Jennelyn Mercado). Apparently, Julian's Filipino girlfriend left him and he wants to get back at her by following her to the Philippines and telling her how he felt in Filipino. Tere is also a stupid person when it comes to love as she lets herself be used by an ex-BF who continues to cheat on her.

Jennelyn Mercado's acting was very real (she somehow reminds me of Sarah Geronimo when she first acted with John Lloyd Cruz). Mercado's take on Tere Madlangscay was very likeable and you will identify with her and her stupidity when it comes to love. 

Derek Ramsey is his usual charming self. His character's attempt to speak Tagalog was very delightful. I'm glad he didn't have to do some pa-cute stuff and he acted his age. Though you would have to suspend your disbelief on how one can spend $1000 to ask someone to teach him tagalog. Julian must indeed be heartbroken over his ex-gf.

My only complaint was that most of the laughter-inducing dialogues were featured in the trailer. It's a movie that won't make you fall off your seats laughing (like what Kimmy Dora did to me), but you'll definitely feel good afterwards and won't make you feel that you were robbed.

Oh and they featured the song below in the movie. One of the best songs in my 90's childhood. It's my LSS up to now.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Product Review: Olay Moisturizer and Beauty Bar

Disclaimer: I got the product for free but we were not required to write a review. I am just happy that I found a product that actually works!

I'm not usually a fan of beauty products. Growing up, I didn't pay too much attention on my skin. I just started wearing moisturizer and using facial cleansers after I graduated from College and was able to buy my own. Prior to that, it was just soap and water for me. 

I remember starting off with the usual supermarket variety--Eskinol and Nivea were my staples then. I didn't wear make-up so I felt that there was no need for a facial wash. As I grew older and moved companies, I met colleagues who were more skin conscious and who gave me useful pointers on how to put on make-up. I also studied informally but I feel like I need to learn more.

Since I now wear all these gunk on my face, it was imperative that I find the right product to wash my face with and of course, moisturize. I'm not actually sure what my skin type is but I noticed my face gets dry a lot, especially after taking a bath. When I was also a child, I remember the skin on palms peeling off during cold season as my skin lacks moisture. Make-up base powder also changes color after being applied on my face. So, I must have dry skin and acidic to boot.

It took time until I found the product that is suitable for my skin. My mom sends us products from the US and after trial and error, I found out that my skin was  compatible with Neutrogena or Cetaphil because of its hypoallergenic properties. I also stocked up on Ivory soap as it's gentle enough for my skin, as well as my husband's.

For more than 7 years, I have always used Neutrogena as my day and night moisturizer. I loved it enough that I also used their facial wash and scrub, as well as toner (although, I still have to figure out when to use it). My skin was just ok. Nothing spectacular. I figured since these are mild products, I shouldn't expect much.

A few months ago, I got a text from Citibank saying that I was qualified to be given a gift pack from Olay. Since I've always been curious about Olay, I called the given number and they said they'll deliver my samples in a few days. True enough, I received a couple of products in the mail: Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Moisturizer with spf 15 and Olay Total Effects Moisturizing Bar.

I was rather hesitant in trying them out. In fact, it was days before I actually opened the pack. The only thing I knew about Olay was I have associated it with my grandmother as she's a regular user of their moisturizer when she was still alive. 

Anyway, I first tried out the facial moisturizer. Since I was not sure how it will turn out, I just used it during the evening. After a few days, I noticed that my skin felt smoother and the lines actually disappeared! Moreover, my face does feel oily in the afternoon. Encouraged by the results, I also started using it as my moisturizer in the morning prior to putting on make-up. After almost a month of using it, I could gladly say that I am a very pleased convert and will definitely buy another bottle when this one runs out.
Just recently, I remembered the beauty bar that they also sent. I didn't want to use it as my experience with moisturizing bars were not that good. Dove, which they say is 1/4 moisturizing cream makes my face and skin dry up. I've never attempted to use any other moisturizing soap ever since. So I was not really sure if their beauty soap will also be a dunce. But my curiosity won the battle so I unpacked it and used it last weekend. 
Lo and behold, their soap also works! My skin felt smooth and silky after use and my face did not feel tight afterwards. In my excitement, I immediately bought 6 bars afterwards and told my husband to just use the Ivory soap while I use this. I also use it alternately with my Neutrogena facial wash and scrub.

Other than the 2 other products, I also use Olay Eye Cream which also works wonders!