Life Begins at Thirty

I’ve always thought that I would celebrate my 30th birthday with a grand party or something similarly extravagant. But owing to my crazy schedule, I felt it better to just postpone or even altogether cancel it. My birthday always falls on a month-end/quarter-end, and for five long years, was also a fiscal year-end; non-accountants may not be able to relate but I’m sure my accounting friends can totally understand. Plus, I am not really a party person; I always feel better celebrating special occasions with a good book, a good movie and lots of comfort food: ice cream, chocolates and chips.

I have also come to realize, that, hey, age IS nothing but a number. A lot of people see the 30th as a milestone of some sort. While it may be true, I felt that celebrating it kind of pre-empts all the good that I can still do after I turn 30. I am not undermining what I have done for the last 30 years, as a lot of them have been life changing and brought with them lessons which I am proud to have learned (and am still mastering).

Getting Married at 24 and Starting a Family


I had always sensed that I would marry before the age of 30. Not that I actively pursued this end – I was only too happy earning money for myself and spending it any way I wanted (my parents never bothered to ask for a cent and would even return what I would give them). But love (or blindness or stupidity, whatever you want to call it) swooped in on me and the rest was history.

What I am very proud of though, is that Ipe and I managed to pull off our wedding almost entirely by ourselves. In fact, we had reserved and paid for the major suppliers (Church, reception venue, caterer and photo/video) before we even informed our parents (this way, they would be hard-pressed to say no, ha!). Planning it was fun although nerve-wracking at times, with Ipe telling me all my ideas are either so expensive or labour-intensive. I will probably make a separate post on wedding planning because, in case you haven’t noticed, I loooove weddings.

The most challenging and life-changing event in my life was when I had Joey. I love kids. And I think kids love me back but I had no idea how to be a parent. I mean, no one is exactly ready to be one, no matter how hard you practice or study or prepare for it. It’s simply a matter of trial and error and trusting your instincts. Joey’s only four but I think, judging from the way people perceive him, that I am quite successful in raising a bright little kid who I call my little man and my biggest treasure (to which, he would always reply: Mom, treasures are supposed to be buried. I’m not buried like a treasure!).


Being a wife and a mom has been the best learning experience as well – I learned to be considerate of others, from the simple things as hogging the bed and pillows to asking for permission/advice whenever I have to go on a trip or switch jobs (I am used to getting my way; I was born stubborn and had pretty much been independent so learning to ask is a new concept for me). 

Joey at one week old

I used to think the world revolved around me, I would go on shopping and eating binges for myself but now, my world revolves around my family. I still shop a lot, but m shopping habits have now gravitated toward home furnishing and stuff for the hubby and kid.

But perhaps one of the best lessons I learned is how to be a better person. I have a kid now who will look up to me and emulate me, and I would want him to have a good role model and this is one thing I just cannot fail. I can fail in anything and everything but in this aspect. And I guess, I learned to be selfless as well, which is a very trying accomplish, as I am naturally selfish, and have to make a conscious effort not to be.

Career and Personal Pursuits

I’ve been to six companies in the last nine or ten years, three or four, if you count the ones that truly matter (meaning, eliminate those where I stayed less than a year). I am on my 6th employer (third or fourth of the ones that matter) and still currently enjoying it. Honestly, this is perhaps the longest I have gone in years without ranting about my work. I am not yet where I want to be, career-wise – there are still so many things to accomplish and learn but I am hopefully getting there. I know I’ve made a lot of wrong career choices which, looking back, I cannot believe I made because they were so obviously wrong. But what I learned is that you cannot really be good at something you don’t enjoy doing, even if you are initially good at it. Because it’s the passion which will keep you striving to outperform and reinvent yourself. Success IS a choice and I’ve always believed in choosing to excel (there also the circumstances and luck but then, not everything can be attributed to them anyway).

On a more personal level, I have now gone back to writing, albeit inconsistently and rather sloppily, via this blog. I know, I know, it isn’t much. I sometimes cringe when I re-read my posts and see grammatical and spelling lapses which I never committed before (which is why I’ve always preferred the typewriter and/or notebook to the computer à it forces me to re-read and be more thoughtful before writing down my thoughts). I am trying to find the time to explore more writing avenues; I haven’t written a decent essay in years or a poem in a decade. Not that I was particularly exceptional, but still, I miss doing them once in a while. Which is again, why I put up this blog in the first place. Some people put up blogs to earn and gain popularity but for me, my main reason is selfish: to have my own space where I can just type away whatever I want. This blog was not made to please anyone but myself; it’s my online diary after all. If you find it entertaining and helpful, well, that’s well and good.

Someday, I will fulfil my dream of winning literary contests and publishing a bestseller book (not just A book but a bestseller). The former, I have done but only on a small scale; I have yet to test my mettle in a full-pledge writing competition. As for the book? A girl can dream right? And I dream big. J

Finances

Well, guess what? I am not yet rich. Hmm, this one did not go as planned. Where did all my earnings go? Think, think, think – oh right, it went to my wardrobe and books and countless dinner outs and whatchamacolit – I’m having a Carrie Bradshaw moment here, right about when she said she’s going to be literally the woman who lived in a shoe. I would probably be the woman who lived in her closet and shelf.

Seriously, at least my goal of having a house and a car before the age of 30 was met. Now, I am slowly trying to get to financial freedom. Ipe and I had agreed to work our asses off for the next 5-10 years, then we will both pursue what we both love doing à something related to fashion, travel and writing for me (they go hand in hand for me), and being a tour guide for him. I think all of us would want to be free of the constraints of being in an 8-5 job. We all know the corporate world is not as glamorous as it’s portrayed in all those TV series; it’s usually a cat-eat-cat jungle full of cutthroats dressed in fancy clothes.

So, What’s Next?

Typing the subsection title above somehow reminded me of my friend Lei’s valedictory speech back in high school, when we were discussing how it would be cool to inject Winona Ryder’s valedictory speech in the movie Reality Bytes; the one which contained the lines: “What does the future hold for us? The answer is, I don’t know” (well, her speech guide was blown off by the wind so she was stuck with “I don’t know”).

But really, you never know what the future holds. You can only dream, plan for those dreams and execute your plans as best as you can. And maybe, with a little luck and lots of prayers, some of them just might come true. So, cheers to my first thirty years! Hope to see you again in the next thirty (if I live that long).

Daily Fashion: Masks

Found another trinket which I am so loving right now:
Yep, another ring! At Php100, it’s another steal from Fudge Rock at Market Market. Too bad Joey doesn’t like me wearing it – he keeps telling me it’s scary. 
Kinda reminds me of this little souvenir I got from Indonesia a couple of years ago:

Daily Fashion: Ring Finger

Discovered this cute little trinket shop that sells really cheap accessories.

Bangles, all from Accessorize; camera and cat ring, Fudge Rock


Can you believe they each costs only Php100???
Fudge Rock is being sold in the kiosk near Maldita at Market Market. There are so may more items I just go nuts. 😛

The World According to Joey: School Edition

I realize I have been kind of remiss in updating Joey’s antics online. Let’s see… Joey’s going to school now. Nothing fancy, just your typical neighbourhood pre-school. We figured we’d let him enjoy this school year before we transfer him to a “big” school next year. And so far, Joey’s been having the time of his life. Didn’t even give us a hard time every morning like all the other kids who cry for their parents or who refuse to wake up (he does sometimes but only on nights when he slept too late- and he still insists on going to school even then).
And I am proud to say that almost every day he gets stars on his wrists, as many as three in one day! I can’t exactly figure out what they’re for coz whenever I ask him, he just shrugs and tells me matter-of-factly: “Teacher likes me a lot so she gives me stars.”
He’s such a smart kid (and I am not just saying this because I’m his mom) – whenever he has a homework, all I have to do is show him an example, and he can finish them by himself. And I was one proud momma when his teacher asked one time if Joey’s had gone to school before – seems like he’s the brightest kid in his class and gets perfect scores in his quizzes. 🙂

***
Joey: (holding my face in his hands and looking t me earnestly) Mom, when I grow big, can you buy me the Colgate 360? The one with the tongue cleaner?
***
While I was away at the office one time and the two boys were left to fend for themselves:
Dad: (frustrated that Joey keeps crying) Joey, play the computer.
Joey: Dad, did you stop me from crying by letting me play the computer?
***
At the mall with Joey, looking for rubber shoes for his PE class…
Me: Joey, let’s look for rubber shoes you like okay? (drags him to the lesser known brands which are of course, cheaper)
Joey: (turns to the Florsheim section) Mom, I want the white and blue one.
Me: (looks at the price and turns the kid the other way)
Joey: (after a few minutes of walking around) Mom, let’s go back to the white shoes. I want it. (looks up at a higher shelf). I changed my mind mom, let’s get the black one instead.
Me: (gives up and pays for the shoes)
***
Still at the mall…
Joey: (Stops abruptly and enters a Red Ribbon by himself then goes up to the glass display and motions for me to follow him inside) Mom, come here!
Me: (no choice but to go in)
Joey: Mom, do you see that one? (points at an oreo chocolate cake) Can you buy it for me?
Well, what can I say? He’s just like his father.:P

Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The good news: the movie is well worth the money and wasn’t messed up as say, the 6th installment of the franchise.


The first applause should be given to the wonderful use of special effects in this movie: the scene where the professors at Hogwarts were protecting the castle from Voldemort’s forces was very impressive, with the glowing, almost electric dome encasing the castle and the armed clay and steel statues coming to life under Professor McGonagall’s spell. Equally remarkable was the trio’s escape from Gringotts on the back of an albino dragon. The effects were seamlessly woven onto the film and it is almost believable that these things can happen in real life, until of course, you exit the cinema and real life takes over. 
Special mention should also be given to the set of the movie, which carried me straight-on into the battle for Hogwarts. 
But the other, more sublime draw of the movie is how it makes a generous display of the rich acting talent that is so abundant in Britain (and makes you wonder why so many no talents in Hollywood are more famous than they are – the saying, shallow water makes much noise suddenly come to mind). We all know that Helena Bonham Carter is a very skilled actor and this movie franchise has probably brought her to the minds of more audience than all her past films – here, she shows her versatility in playing just about anything by playing the cruel and murderous Bellatrix Lestrange and having a very brief five minutes to play Hermione impersonating her. It was a hoot to see her acting exactly like Hermione, from the facial twitches, to the breathing, to the mannerisms. 
Professor Mcgonagall totally won me over in her two shining scenes when she admonished Filch by saying, “they’re supposed to be out of bed, you blithering idiot” (or something like that) and when she used the spell, Piertotum Locomotum and commented rather giddily, that “I’ve been wanting to use that spell my entire life.” Wasn’t it just too cute? 
And of course, everybody’s favourite ambiguous character, arguably the richest one in the books, Alan Rickman’s Processor Snape also gets his share of the limelight, and I shed a bucket of tears in the scene where he was attacked by Nagini and I could not help but sob out loud when he asked Harry to look at him as he dies, wanting to die looking up into the eyes that reminded him so much of the one woman he had loved: Lily, Harry’s mother. I could not help but feel though, that Snape should have had more scenes. As it is, his presence on screen was rather too short. 
Fiennes as Voldemort didn’t quite impress me as it did the others, though. He looked like a snake/cancer patient/clown and the only thingnotable about his acting was his raspy voice. 
Of the three main characters, I would still say that Ron has shown the most promise, acting-wise, followed closely by Hermione. Harry sometimes feel lost, or starts out great but then mumbles his way to the end. And I can’t help but be annoyed sometimes by his hand gestures when he speaks, although, looking back, these subtle traits of his made Harry very real, like an extension of Daniel Radcliffe. 
Now, while I wouldn’t dare pick on the story line, as it was as perfect as any fantasy story could be, there were some key scenes which were excluded from the movie, probably because their inclusion would have made the movie reach a part 3, but which were crucial at providing the necessary insights. 
The movie assumes everyone watching has read and re-read the books before coming into the cinema but if you have not, or did not refresh your memory, you would be at a lost at who Aberforth Dumbledore is, or Ariana is, and what caused the irreparable rift between Albus Dumbledore and his brother. The duel scene between Mrs. Weasley and Bellatrix were too short, and felt like it was just added in to appease the loyal readers of the book. But if it was done to do just that, they should have just done away with it, altogether. There was also the omission of the Weasley’s reunion with Percy (although this is quite trivial).
Certain liberties were also taken such as when it was Hermione who suggested breaking out of Gringott’s on the back of the dragon (it was Harry in the books), and how Harry broke the Elder Wand after defeating Voldemort. But perhaps the most glaring one is how Nagini was left crawling all over Hogwarts when it was supposed to be the last know Horcrux (Harry was of course, the 7th and last Horcrux that Voldemort was unaware he had made) and always stayed protected in an invisible cage or near Voldemort. 
The book, as all the others in the series with it, was a magnificent work of Rowling’s genius but some of its magnificence didn’t quite translate to the big screen or got lost somewhere in Yate’s direction. The movie wasn’t as grand as it could have, and thus deprived the beloved characters the grand finale they should have had. It was good, but it never quite reached the epic scale of say, the Lord of the Rings, and did not leave me with the feeling of wanting to relive the scenes over and over again.
Will I watch it again? Yes. Undoubtedly. But because I am a Harry Potter fan and not because I genuinely loved the movie.
 *Photos grabbed from google images.

Food Trip: Burgoo

What was supposed to be a dinner/movie/coffee date with our friend Leah (who’s on vacation from SG for a couple of days with hubby, Erwin) yesterday turned into a food trip at Burgoo and ghost story sharing/gabfest at Starbucks Araneta. 
Was fighting off flue brought on by the ever-changing weather and a myriad of other factors; had to back out on a birthday party with the kiddo (though I managed to take him to the mall for a KFC date and to buy the latest Bumblebee toy before my sneezes and runny nose got out of hand) and a planned weekend work (which meant I had to make up for it the next day). I was a bit groggy though – I initially took antihistamines, thinking my sneezes were just due to my persistent allergies but decided to take flu medications when it started getting worse. So I was a bit light-headed with lots of drowse-inducing meds in my system. 
The rain was a bit of a damper though, and it’s a good thing Carli lives just a couple of block; otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the push to haul myself off the bed. 🙂 Traffic was light though, even with the rain. 
Was so so hungry when we got to Gateway but the food more than made up for the wait. I hardly ever eat at Burgoo because there isn’t a branch within my radar (or maybe because I just don’t have it on my radar?) but I think it’s going to be one of my favourites.

Seafood Caesar Supreme salad – my favourite of the night. I’m a sucker for shrimps (though I’m unfortunately allergic to them) and squids. And crabs. And cheese. Which is basically what this salad is made of. J And I loved that the greens don’t taste bitter.

I could have eaten this plate by myself

 
Supreme Sampler – buffalo wings (they’re good), spring rolls (less than average – didn’t taste all spring’y to me), chimichangas, and onion rings. Served with three dips. 😛
Pizza Sampler – four flavours in one! 
Now, I normally would have just gotten mango shake or bottomless iced tea but I just couldn’t say no to a shake called marshmallow float. Loved it’s pink base and mini mallows in yellow, peach, pink and white! It looks too fluffy and pretty to drink. And they didn’t scrimp on the mallows. Up to the last sip, there were still mallows and I even had to scoop them up. 
Too pretty!

And of course, what event would it be without a group shot? We were so hungry at Burgoo that we forgot to take pictures and Jere had left already before we realized we hadn’t documented our latest get-together.
My friends for over a decade now

Our topics last night evolved on only a couple of things: updates on our lives, especially those who weren’t there (sheepish grin and chuckle), the Philippine Volcanoes, and ghost stories (triggered by a discussion on the distasteful prenup photos, taken at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, circling on the web) which left us with goosebumps. One day, I just might write down those stories for your guys to read here.
But as a fitting dessert to cap off our night, our conversation went back again to the Philippine Volcanoes, with the hubby even mimicking their poses while slurping on a venti frappe. Trust, the mental image is quite hard to erase. 
Well, I guess, the collective opinion went something like – why take down the billboards when it inspired and made so many people happy? 😀

Kutz and Ernan’s Wedding: 070211

I am a sucker for weddings – I love seeing the gown of the bride and the entourage and I always feel blessed that my friends would want me there. 
This time, it was for my friend Kutz’s 2nd wedding. Yes, you read that right: 2nd. What can I say? They just love each other so much they had to do round 2.

The very lovely couple

What can I say, this wedding was impeccably planned. Now it’s confirmed: Kutz is a control/neat freak. Hahaha. Anyway,the church ceremony was already halfway when I got there (fine, I overslept having done some OT work the night before, and couldn’t figure out what to wear). I would have hit myself if I missed it. I’m not really in favor of those who go straight to the reception – it’s just tacky and you look like you’re just in it for the food. I would rather miss the reception but not the church ceremony. But to each his own. 🙂
But boy, the food was great. And the thoughtful couple that they are, guests were served cocktails while they had their photo shoot at the church. Wasn’t able to snap pics of the cocktails though as my hands were full with my glass and hors d’oeuvre. Hahaha!
Scattered around the garden of Blue Leaf were select photos from their prenup shoot, which had a John & Yoko theme. I have to say, this is very creative and the concept was very well executed. I can’t even remember any friends of mine having themed prenups (I personally wanted to have a fairytale theme for our own, complete with floral crowns and wings and garden-y scenes but Ipe would obviously not have approved) so this is a first and I just keep looking back at their prenup album. And note that they didn’t even go far as the pics were taken right in their neighborhood. 🙂


 Of course, my friends and former colleagues from my previous employer  had to take advantage of the location and had our own photoshoot.

This was supposed to be a Temptation Island thing but I guess we were too smiley-faced for it to work

Cute: our seat assignments are themed as well. Our table was the yellow submarine.


Once inside, I just had to take pictures of the centerpiece. The pastel colors of the flowers (which were I think similar to what the bridal bouquet had) reminded me again of our own wedding – my entourage had worn pink/green/blue/yellow dresses because I couldn’t settle on just one color (actually, Ipe had vetoed yellow, saying our entourage would look like overgrown bananas) and I just love pastels. And surprise, surprise! We have eggs on our table! We later learned these eggs symbolized Kutz and her siblings and that they have now hatched and left the nest. Nice touch! I almost thought we were supposed to eat the eggs or have a game with it or something.


I purposely did not take too many shots of food lest I get scolded again for eating way too much lately so I settled for just one shot, and this just proves I didn’t eat too much considering that the food was oh so yummy (by K Cunanan who also catered my friend Gelle’s wedding three months ago):


I loved so many of the details about this wedding but perhaps the most is how laid-back the atmosphere was and how everyone seemed to know everyone and are close to the couple. Even though the guest list was long, it still felt intimate to me and the speeches were some of the best I’ve heard at weddings. And I am just speechless at their opening number,  their own, live rendition of Come What May from Moulin Rouge, which is like, one of my favorite duets ever! And how cool was it that they got the lead of Alamid as their emcee? 🙂
Ok, I’ll stop gushing now. Like I said, I just love me some weddings. Best wishes, Kutz and Ernan! 🙂

Food Trip: Mom and Tina’s

I didn’t have any grand celebration for my 30th as my weekend was chock full of things to do and places to visit (plus, I was super tired and didn’t have time to organize a mini-get together) but hubby managed to drag me for dinner the day after at one of our favorite places: Mom and Tina’s.
I haven’t been to this place in months! Perhaps even in a year. Not because I don’t like the food, because I do, but more because it has been under the radar and a bit out of way (the branches are across SM Hypermart in Pasig and near the Prince Condo in Makati, near Greenbelt). I love the interiors of this place, reminds me of a country home with its oak furniture (though I doubt it’s really oak :P) and floral wallpaper. Cozy.
Starters:
Mango Kani salad – i love the bits of seaweed, gives it an interesting taste
Main Course:
Shepherd’s Pie – melt in your mouth mashed potato with ground pork
Lasagna
Both are served with yummy, freshly-baked bread (I think it’s potato), which on its own, is enough to fill me.
Dessert:
Sansrival – Ipe can’t stop gushing about this

Sugar-free mango walnut torte – hmm, I can’t decide on this one. I like the walnuts but I’m rather disappointed with the overall taste. Maybe because I got the sugar-free version?
Prices are okay – each main dish cost around Php180 and dessert at Php100. What more can you ask for? 😛

Museo Pambata

There are very few kid-friendly tourist attractions in the country, so Ipe and I were both excited to attend the birthday celebration of my high school bff Mheng’s second baby yesterday at the Museo Pambata. We had some scheduling conflicts but thank goodness we were able to go as Joey enjoyed it tremendously.
Daddy and the kid enjoying the food.

Ok, so I pigged out again for the 2nd time this weekend.

Too bad the instructions were in Tagalog and Joey had a hard time keeping up. 😦
Now, Joey didn’t get to participate much in the party games but he sure more than made up for it during the museum tour.
The Museo Pambata, located at the old Elks Club headquarters along Roxas Boulevard (near the US embassy, Manila Hotel, you get the picture), was initially built in 1910 to house the  Elks Club, a group of American businessman. Over the years, it has been home to various organizations and museums, until it was finally turned in to a children’s museum in 1994. Entrance fee is at Php100 per head which, I might add, is totally worth it, looking at how well-kept the place is and noting that it is air-conditioned as well, so kids need not sweat while running around the place.
Even before we entered the place, Joey already had lots of fun riding the chopper at the parking lot and looking at the miniature jeepneys.
Probably my favorite display is the typical bahay na bato, scaled down to fit kids below 7 yrs old. The furniture are all fit for kids. 🙂
There are various sections all devoted to making the museum experience interactive and fun and not bore your kid. In short, the goal here is to make your kids feel like they’re playing while learning basic science, history, and home economics. Joey totally enjoyed it and didn’t even once ask to go home early.
My other favorite, the marketplace:
The sweet little kid served his mom and dad with “food” from a carinderia stall
And of course, Joey enjoyed the cars the most – firetrucks, trains, etc. He even tricked his dad into joining him in the fire truck, with matching cap!
Now, this one, is probably Ipe’s favorite – a miniature Binondo church, complete with miniature altar.
You can open the door (or crawl, if you’re small enough) to go inside the “Binondo church”

And one of Joey’s favorites, the tree house:

The place is quite huge and it took us two hours to complete the tour. Needless to say, when you take your kids to this place, be sure to stack up on energy and drink lots of water. You’ll need it for when you chase across rooms and stairs for your kid. 
* Apologies for the crappy photos. I haven’t seen the need yet to get me a new cam (or rather, the hubby would not let me buy a new cam) so I am kinda working on just my crappy phone and I could never figure out the correct settings indoors (hey, it is crappy considering that it’s supposed to have a high pixel like my previous phone, but takes crappier photos than the hubby’s three year old phone).