Saturday, September 30, 2017

September Shenanigans

It's the last day of the first "ber" month. And despite being bone tired dealing with and completing work-related requirements, I just thought of writing about a rundown of the things I dealt with this month:

I joined a meaningful endeavor for the benefit of our country's men in uniform currently deployed in Marawi. You can read more of that here.

I am among those individuals featured in this quarter's issue of a finance magazine, MoneySense about Millennials & Money.

And it feels giddily good being interviewed and discussing what I do for a living for the last five and a half years.

Speaking of magazines, I am making a "mini comeback" as a contributing writer for the upcoming issue of our company's internal publication. And I'm so excited. For any writer, getting to see your name in print is the best feeling in the world. That's their form of fulfillment.

This month is also a month for new discoveries. Like a new place to stop by for my morning fuel -- coffee! Finally, after months (which almost turned to a year) of waiting, the Tim Hortons branch which is just three minutes away from my office is finally open!

I also discovered a food tent that serves good food and drinks -- not in the metropolis but still in Rizal during one of my trips on the way home from work for the weekend. I might go back to explore more of the food the place can offer because some of the stalls were still prepping up when I arrived at around 6pm.

Of course, a month without indulging in brain food? Sadly, I missed this year's Manila International Book Fair. I read while this year was a bigger event, it was filled to the brim with attendees too. Call it an ultimate measure of katanderan but I wasn't sure if my patience can take the long lines of people this year. But that's not a reason for me not to find a book to read. After months of searching and ranting that I can't find this book authored by one of my friends, I was finally able to buy one from Book Sale in SM Megamall. Yep, humble secondhand bookshops are a gem too. Not only they are selling secondhand books (that look brand new) at a cheaper price, sometimes they're a place for hard-to-find titles too.

I'm ending my month with another movie to cross out on my list for my 12 Movies Project. I was torn between watching this in SM Megamall or just see it in my hometown but the former won. Last Night is the ninth movie on my list and it's a good movie worth paying for and watching. While it's seen as a romantic film, it's not tackling just a typical lovestory in its premise. While I did not get the kind of ending I expected, the movie offered an unexpected twist that somehow I was able to let go of the "ending I wanted but didn't get" . Piolo and Toni played their characters well -- or even above what the audience expected. And for someone like Bela Padilla, who everyone is familiar of an actress, this movie proved that she's more than that. Her scriptwriting skills for this movie showed promise. If you are intrigued and haven't seen the movie just yet, I suggest that you run to the cinema and buy a ticket. I am telling you, it's going to be worth your money.

There goes my September. I wonder how things will be like next month :-)

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Stranger's Letter to a Deployed Soldier

It has been four months since the battle of Marawi started. In between a busy workload in the office, attending meetings, watching the news and burying myself in those unread books at home, different humanitarian activities have been spearheaded. A number of which I have always wanted to participate in but there would always be obstacles -- either lack of allowable time or resource showing up.

I really wanted to do something meaningful -- but how? 

The answer came through a blog post I found in one of the blogs I follow, Mommy Fleur. She wrote about this campaign of fellow mommy blogger, Tin of Manila Fashion Observer about sending letters to deployed soldiers in Marawi. To which I thought it to be a brilliant idea. In this day and age of instant communication, people seem to have forgotten the beauty found in putting "personal touch" to some of our daily activities -- writing letters included.

I don't know how to address the recipient so I did the greeting that way.

And so, yesterday, in spite of fighting off my disappointment over an appointment that never materialized, I took time to sit down and pen a letter. In a way it was hard to find the words at first especially with the fact that I won't know to whose hands my letter will fall. The only thing that is sure is that it will hopefully be received by someone in uniform, who is making a sacrifice of being miles away from loved ones to respond to a call of duty.

I never tried writing a correspondence to a stranger. In the process of doing so, I have to put myself into the shoes of the person who might get my letter. Sure, allowing my hands to do the work was hard, because as I was putting down my thoughts, my tears would fall at the same time. However, if there was one good thing about shedding those tears in the process of writing, it's that I got to clearly and sincerely find the right words.

As much as I would like to write the content of the letter and post it here, I opt not to do it. Just so it would be genuinely reserved for the soldier who will receive it. But it's mostly about uplifting someone's spirit and the hope of a peaceful end to this chaos, a hero's safe return and hopefully, if the Universe would allow, a chance to meet the recipient -- the courageous person in uniform whose sacrifice meant ensuring that people like me (and others too) would live in a secured, free and peaceful country.

To read more about how you can participate on this campaign, please visit this blog.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Vertigo Recovery By Food at Hideout52: A Late Post

 Just as the title stated, this one's another late post. I'm feeling and doing fine as of this writing compared to how I was in April when Kim and I went out to have an unplanned food trip at Hideout 52.

It was an afternoon in April 30 when Kim sent me a message asking when we could go out for a food trip. She was free (read: no scheduled events to attend). While I was just at home free to do anything that day, I was recovering from an episode of vertigo which started the day before. Two years ago, during my first vertigo episode, the doctor advised me that next to betahistine medication and some prescribed exercises, I was told to move whenever I could -- and yes, it included going out if my body permits it because next to dizziness, vertigo sufferers deal with balance issues at the same time. Thankfully, the medicines were working and my symptoms have subsided a bit. So upon getting a go signal from my mom, I went to see Kim for an impromptu food trip.

Kim ordered their murder burger and nachos while I had carbonara. Hideout 52 is an unassuming hang out place located along Manila East Road in Angono, Rizal few meters across from Iglesia ni Cristo. Their menu is interesting -- just as how delicious it is once it arrives on the table.

I loved how they prepared the carbonara. Warm and the noodles were cooked just right -- not tough nor rubber-y. Al dente it is. Nothing much to say with the sauce but I loved that there's mushrooms in it (I'm a sucker for mushrooms!) and they didn't scrimp on the amount they placed in my order.

I didn't have the chance to taste Kim's murder burger. But I think it was good too because she was able to finish it -- despite that it's a huge burger and she's the only person to consume it. We also ordered their nachos (which we failed to photograph) which is also a must try. I'd like to think they make their own nachos because the way it was made and prepared is different from the store-brought ones.

These were the drinks we ordered. I forgot what Kim ordered. While I had the strawberry smoothie.

This was how a vertigo-suffering customer looked like after finishing all the food we ordered. We stayed at the makeshift deck near the window. Overall, the experience we had there was okay. Save for the loud music, their food was good and affordable and their staff are accommodating too.Those are enough reasons for me to return there. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Dreams and Butterflies

Last night, I had one of those weird dreams. I don't get to dream about a particular person but last night was among those random nights someone made an unexpected appearance in my dream. I don't know but all I could remember was we were having this silly time together. He just kept asking me kung gwapo ba siya. But on the other hand, I was not even answering.

Sa panaginip ko, tawa lang ako nang tawa sa mga tanong niya.

And while it was happening in my head, in the wee hours of the day, and despite being in an unconscious state, I was feeling those strong flutters similar to that of butterfly wings in my stomach. For years, I remember wondering how "getting butterflies in the stomach" felt. I even had to ask a college classmate about that at one instance.

A friend told me, what we dream of is part of our past. It's the first time I heard of this (and that scientific explanation of those butterflies in the tummy) and yet, I was asking myself "sa paanong paraan kaya naging part ng nakaraan ko yung taong nasa panaginip ko?

Maybe, that's something only time might tell.

And just when I thought that scene was already odd,  the conclusion of that dream was another thing. For I just saw myself approaching an unfamiliar venue -- the podium of a big session hall -- similar to that of the House of Representatives. Kung anong reason at kung paano akong napunta doon next, hindi ko rin alam. And as to that guy who was asking me about his looks? He was among those in the crowd -- looking at me wearing a smile on his face.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Three Lessons and a Fastfood Commercial

Just months ago, at the height of all the Valentine's hype, I was able to watch the TV ads of Jollibee and I must admit two of those ads made me cry -- particularly the TV ad "Date" and "The Vow". I felt disappointed mostly with how the latter ended. Yeah, there were tears -- both for sadness and disappointment about how the advertisers concluded the story.

But the past few weeks, another brand new TVC for the same fastfood chain is making rounds online. Only this time, the bestman who was friendzoned in the earlier commercial was given a happy ending.

Or should I say hindi lang siya. Dahil maging ang girl na secretly in love at na friendzone ni bestman ay naging masaya din.

Yes, there was actually that kind of twist in the story that no one had seen nor expected in the earlier commercial.

Oo. There was a hopeful conclusion for them at the end of the TVC.

In a way, I felt good, even hopeful after seeing how the girl who "waited in vain" (and maybe became a victim of an unrequited love) got herself a happy ending later on -- and kay bestman pa rin at that. In a way Jollibee redeemed itself from the heartache and disappointment that their earlier commercial elicited to a lot of people (even Hollywood's Matthew McConaughey shed tears watching that commercial). Somehow, the TV ad fueled hopes for those folks struggling with the "friendzone rut". Because it proved in a way na kahit na-friendzone ka, pwedeng ka pa ring manalo at mahalin ng mismong nang-friendzone sa 'yo sa huli.

At one point, I wanted to question my thoughts kung matutuwa ba akong ako ang nagwagi after kong ma-friendzone sa guy na sa tingin ko ay the right one (if I were in the girl's shoes). But I don't want to spoil the good mood that the conclusion gave people (me included). And next to crying happy tears dahil finally ay nagka-lovelife na si bestman at hindi na siya Pambansang Best Friend lang) I was caught with these three lessons that proved to be true based on this TV ad, which I would rather focus on:

1. It pays to be (extremely) patient. Quoting the lines of the girl towards the end of the TV commercial, "minsan, kung maghihintay ka lang, darating din ang perfect para sa 'yo." Sure, the waiting game could be excruciating, exhausting even. But patience is indeed a virtue. At wala mang perfect na tao, the right one arrives at the right time. Good things do come to those who wait.

2. What is worth having will always be worth waiting for-- the same thing applies to love and the right person.

3.Be careful about the people you put in the friendzone. Whether you're a girl, or a guy, no one wants to be put in that "dreaded situation". At yung sinasabi ng mga matatanda na "mabilis ang balik ng karma" ay hindi lang basta kasabihan. It's something na in a way ay kailangan mo ring paniwalaan. Minsan, kung sino pa yung taong nasaktan dahil sa pangpi-friendzone mo, ay siya pala talagang nakalaan para sa 'yo.

Ikaw, na-friendzone ka rin ba? Have no fear. Kaunting pasensya, paghihintay at tiwala lang. Kung si girl on the TVC found her perfect pair, for sure, ikaw rin. You will find a fitting conclusion for the patience and for waiting. :-)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Date Nights at Music Wizard Coffee and Tea Shop

One of the best ways to make up and give myself a well-deserved "me time" after a busy week is to go somewhere quiet and enjoy some good food. I know I have planned to go on a food crawl and fill this blog with food-slash-travel related posts but just like what I often say, so much things to do (particularly at work) so I've got little time to blog.

So when I am able to, and to welcome the weekend, I would invite friends for dinner on Friday nights just around town. Such has been my version of date nights and lately, we have been frequent customers of Music Wizard Coffee and Tea Shop.

The first time I visited was last month. They moved to a new location (the previous branch was a few steps away from their sister restaurant, Inang Bina's along A. Tiamson Street) just along Manila East Road. And at the time we visited (with my friend Batch) they have been opened for around three weeks. Funny but the reason for this first visit was because of a shallow reason -- I was craving for cheesecake.

The last two instances that went to Music Wizard was for meet ups with my former college professors who have become my friends. We love staying on the coffee shop's second floor. We prefer it best because of its relaxing ambience (read: not too crowded) which is definitely good for me. If you deal with tons of things at work, the least thing you would want at the end of a tiring week is to park your exhausted mind in a place that can provide some peace to it. Some place where you can just sit quietly near the window staring at the lights, people and cars passing by at night while having dinner.  And that's precisely what "our perfect spot" does to me.

Of course, next to relaxing after a week filled with work, we frequent the place for the food. Here are some of the items on the menu that we (or should I say, I) have tried so far:

This was from the time I visited with my cousin and her daughter. I'm not much into carbs so whenever there's pasta on the menu, I make it a point to order even at least for once. But I must say I'm easily enticed with white sauces so Carbonara is something I can't miss for the world. We also ordered the Kitkat Shooter and the Strawberry Smoothie which I preferred to go with the pasta. I loved their Carbonara (which was served warm -- earning a plus point), the dish itself isn't nakakaumay (thus other people tend to make this pasta dish last on their list) and their Strawberry Smoothie because it's not too sweet -- which is good for me who is watching on sugar intake despite I am not a diabetic.

We ordered clubhouse sandwich and mojos (slightly photographed) during the dinner with my college professors a week ago. Their clubhouse is filling with all the ingredients in it, I was already full by the second piece. I also got to try their mojos -- and while it could be compared to mojos of a commercial pizza restaurant, I prefer this once because aside from it's affordable, it's not too salty too.

And the original reason why we discovered the coffee shop was my craving for cheesecake! I am not a fan of blueberry cheesecake but that "unreasonable craving" went on for weeks so I knew I had to do something about it -- dismissing it wasn't an option. And while there are blueberry cheesecakes offered by "high-end" (read: expensive) coffee shops, they didn't appeal much to me taste-wise. But the blueberry cheesecake at Music Wizard sealed the deal for me. Upon inquiring, their staff told me that the bakeshop which is also found at the coffee shop's second floor regularly supplies the cakes on their menu. 

I've had a pleasant dining experience in the three instances that I have visited Music Wizard Coffee and Tea Shop. Given that it offers good (and affordable) food, relaxing ambience (with IG-worthy interiors) and accommodating staff, their worth recommending to friends who wishes to spend quality time over good food and a great view.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bonding with Moms at the Mommy Fleur x Bliss Bowls Brunch

I am temporarily taking a break from the series of delayed post to write about an event I attended about two weeks ago. I was invited by Fleur of the blog Mommy Fleur to a brunch meet up with some of her blog readers at Bliss Bowls in SM Megamall. I have been reading her blog and I won't deny that I also wanted to see the girl behind the stories I've been reading so the invitation was something I wouldn't miss for the world.

Photo: Mommy Fleur, Michelle Pineda
The meet up was held at Bliss Bowls. Most of us arrived at 10 am just as Fleur requested. Being the weekend lakwatsera that I am, I have been familiar about this place existing in Megamall but I only had the chance to try their products during the meet up. All of us shared our preferred smoothie bowls -- yummy treats that are basically thicker than your usual smoothie that you enjoy in a bowl. Their smoothies are made from pure fruits and vegetables topped with superfoods but what's surprising is it doesn't contain water, ice, dairy or sugar. It's a treat that anyone who's serious about dieting or even just wanting to eat healthy can enjoy without feeling deprived at all.

I am a sucker for strawberries, bananas and anything chocolate. So when Fleur asked us on her blog prior to the event about our smoothie of choice, I picked Cacao Kiss -- which is just what I got on the day!

This is my smoothie bowl side-by-side Mommy Lea's Green Dream. It's a mix of spinach, bananas, strawberry and mango.

We also got to try Amazing Kale. While I've known and seen kale in grocery stores, it was my first time to taste it at Bliss Bowls. It's got a mild leafy taste from the kale but the other components of the smoothie such as banana, strawberries, spirulina, coconut milk and chia seeds among others make a green leafy bowl a treat to the tastebuds.

Photo: Mommy Fleur, Michelle Pineda

Back with the event, I was hesitant to join at first despite the invitation because I knew most of them are legit moms and (working) housewives. It was funny though because there were cheers when I told them that I am the divergent in the group of species (read: single, no husband, just married -- to a job!)

Photo: Mommy Fleur, Michelle Pineda
|What is a gathering without introductions and stories. Most of the ladies present were either stay at home or working moms. But of course, the highlight of the meet up is hearing stories from the event organizer, Fleur.

And as luck would have it, next to Fleur, I also got to meet Michelle Pineda. Next to being the "official event photographer", she is also Fleur's best friend. Her name rings a bell to me because of my brother Jay Ar (who is also in the same business of documenting events and weddings like her). Michelle is the owner of Michelle Pineda Photography. And just when I thought she was a client of my brother, apparently, she is one of Jay Ar's friends and is a ninang to my niece Sofia. So yes, this event was also a small world of some sorts :-)  She even asked me why I got hooked reading her friend's blog to think that it is a mommy blog (so what in the world does a single girl have to do with it, right? Well, the truth is next to a form of positive diversion, I'm not really sure. All I know is nakaka- good vibes ang mga kwento niya on her blog (at bakit ba, eh magiging misis din naman ako. Maghintay lang kayo! so might as well try to get some points to review and ponder about.)

They always say there's always a first time. But this is a first time that's worth it. I never thought that somehow I could kind of blend in a different crowd. And the experience felt good.

Bliss Bowls is at the 4th Floor Building A of SM Megamall Mandaluyong City