Travel Make-Up Kit

When I was younger (teens and my early 20s), I didn’t care much about make-up and skincare. In fact, I never owned anything remotely related to beauty. It was only in my late-20s that I discovered and cultivated an obsession with cosmetics and since then, I’ve become some sort of hoarder, although I have yet to get to the part where I actually learn to use them. 
 
But even though I am practically clueless when it comes to putting these products on me, I have a tendency to pack every single one I could into my luggage whenever I travel. You know, for that unforeseen event when you would have to do your own make-up and everything. And because I have this weird notion that I know and have the time to put them on before I step out my hotel room for the day, so that I would at least look decent in my travel photos. 
 
Ahh, such trivial pursuits. Hehe. 
 
But, packing five bottles of foundation and a dozen lipsticks can be quite problematic for those of us with limited baggage allowance (not to mention my overpacked kikay kit is bursting) so I figured, why not edit a bit, right? So I stared long and hard at my dresser drawer and figured out which products I use on a daily basis (in an ideal world).
 
  • Primer. I’ve recently discovered this primer, That Gal, from Benefit which I absolutely love. It’s pink and it brightens my usually dull and pale skin, plus it smells like strawberries! I’m usually allergic to fruity scents but for some reason, this one agrees with my nose. 
  • Lip/Cheek tint and blush. Also from Benefit , this nifty little box of tricks is a lifesaver. I mean, it has a small bottle of bestsellers Benetint (lip/cheek tint) and High Beam (a highlighter), a powder blush, a creamy gloss, a brush, and a pocket mirror. With matching instructions to boot! I normally just use the tint and highlighter though, since I’m too lazy to use powder blush and I tend to “eat” the gloss. 
  • Cream blush. On days when I really want to look a little made-up or more presentable, I put on this Nars Orgasm blush. This has been voted the best blush-on many times and what can I say? It lives up to the hype.
 
From left: Kikay kit from Benefit contaiing tint, highlighter, powder blush and lipgloss; Nars Orgasm cream blush; Benefit’s That Gal primer

Oh, and one other thing I love? This little wand from Benefit which has the tint on one end and a clear gloss on the other end. See? You only need this in your bag and you’re good to go! And did I mention that the tint smells oh so rosy? As a finishing touch and when my face feels a little too oily, I pat down this minty face balm, also from Benefit. It works as an oil absorbent and also to set your make-up and it smells citrusy. But again, for some reason, my nose loves it!

 

Clockwise from tip: Benefit’s Pocket Pal with tint and gloss; L’Occitane’s Rose hand cream; Benefit’s Dr. Feel Good face balm; Clinique spot correcting cream; Benefit’s high-beam. These are the minimum carry-ons in my kikay kit.

And I just have to add this little power-packed moisturizer. During my last foreign trip, my skin got so dry (I think it got confused with the weather – 31 C during the day and 11 C during the night) it started cracking. None of the moisturizers I packed (the Tea Tree line from The Body Shop) helped so I asked the kind girl at Sephora to give me her strongest moisturizer and she gave me this FAB Ultra Repair Cream. FAB actually stands for First Aid Beauty. And it truly lives up to its name. 
 
FAB repair cream; Benetint lip balm with SPF – smells like roses!

On a side note, I’m stuck in bed right now and since I don’t want to be totally unproductive, thought I’d write about some of my latest make-up purchases. These babies aren’t exactly new – just a very late post. Hope you get to try and like them as much as I do!

Bayview Park Hotel

Checked in with my boys at the Bayview Park Hotel for NYE. I would have preferred checking in at the Hotel H2O since we were having dinner there, but it was fully booked, and the other hotels were too expensive so I just settled for Bayview, where I got the standard room for only $65 (around Php2,700) over at Asiarooms.com. Lucky us, when we got there, our room got upgraded and we got free buffet breakfast for two. Happy New Year indeed!
As usual when staying at hotels, the first thing Joey does is to check the beds. Tons of jumping, or as Joey and I like to call it, “boinging”. This time, Joey was more hyper as he kept jumping from one bed to the other that I almost had a heart attack.

Getting ready to jump to the other bed
Not much really to report on the room – the only good thing was the bed. It was clean and comfortable and the pillows were soft. But overall, the hotel is old and it reflects on everything: the furniture, the flooring, the carpet. There was even a huge stain on the carpet and I felt quite icky walking around barefoot so I made do with the thin slippers that came with the room.
One queen and one twin bed

The CR, while just fitted the basic necessities such as shower, sink and toilet, is at least clean and bright.

A good thing Joey didn’t ask for a bath tub; this is the first hotel we’ve stayed at that doesn’t have one

The buffet breakfast was nothing spectacular as well. It’s a good thing we got it for free as I wouldn’t want to pay Php495 for it (Php295 for kids). At that price, I was expecting a feast with cold cuts, cheese, and many choices. I only saw tocino, meat loaf, sausage and egg. Oh, and congee and two types of cereal. There was salad, but it didn’t look appealing – just the leafy greens and tomato and boiled eggs. The fruit juice selection was also kind of disappointing: cheap pineapple and orange juice (suspiciously like the powdered kind, or the concentrate one which you buy by the litre and mix with gallons of water). 

The kid disliked it so much he didn’t eat at all. A good thing he got in totally free otherwise, I would have had to demand a refund. As it was, we had to go to the Starbucks outside to eat some chicken pandesal.

The only redeeming factor for this hotel is its staff – they were all so nice. Not stuffy at all and all the bell boys were so helpful. So for that, I would consider staying again at this hotel.

Penguins and Sea Lions!

Finally! After a month’s worth of nagging on my part, hubby relented and took me and Joey to see the penguins at Manila Ocean Park. See, I’ve always liked penguins – maybe because I grew up having a penguin play set, the one which has three tiny penguins climbing up the stairs then sliding down. Plus, I find them cute and funny, the way they walk sideways, always looking like they’re about to topple down or something.
We got the Penguin Delight Package C for Php600 per head, which enabled us to watch the Sea Lion Show, Penguin Exhibit and Trails to Antarctica, and the Aquatica Musical Fountain Show. Priced just right, given that the upkeep of these animals must be expensive.
First stop – sea lions! Pardon the exclamation points. I must warn you this post is full of them. What can I say? I love the water, and that extends to all the inhabitants of any body of water. Ok, back to the sea lions. Did you know seals are different from sea lions?
Cuteness overload. While the sea lions performed the usual tricks of rolling over, swimming, and catch, it was still fun to watch. But I must say the performance of the sea lions at Ocean Adventure in Subic is better (but I believe it’s also more expensive). Joey would have enjoyed it except that we watched it out in the sun at 2PM so he was sweating and being an all-around bratty kid. 
Stadium where we watched the sea lion show (and the musical fountain show later that night). HOT!
 
Say hi!
Anyway, a good thing we went to the penguins after that, our main agenda for this visit. The area is actually on the second level (with the Oceanarium at the ground; we skipped this part since we’ve been there twice already); nothing grand here but they have installed a slide for guests (four at a time can go). Joey wanted to give it a try and I immediately said yes but as we were waiting for our turn, my knees were turning to jelly – what the heck was I thinking saying yes? I have a fear of heights and this slide spans half the perimeter of the massive room. Not to mention that I have to hold on to my seat and make sure Joey doesn’t let go of his, as otherwise, he might tip over and plunge to the side or tumble head first down the slide.
In any case, Joey did start to let go of his seat but a good thing that before he could remove both hands (and before I fainted or had a heart attack), the ride was finished. 
After that, it was penguins galore. If you’re just looking to watch the penguins, well, that’s precisely what you will do as they’re all locked behind a glass enclosure half-filled with water. But if you’re willing to spend Php250 (for one printed photo) or Php 400 (copies saved in a CD), you can go inside their “habitat” and feed them fish. Of course we were more than willing to pay Php400 for that. 😛
Feeding time!

Next stop, it’s the Snow Village. Honestly, it’s like walking into a large freezer, except that this one has plastic pine trees and snowmen and Santa. It was freezing cold in there; too bad I wasn’t prepared for this trip (we weren’t really supposed to go to Ocean Park that day) and didn’t bring my furrry winter jacket and mittens. We had to make do with the jackets they lend out for free, which, given that lots of people have used it, practically reeks of bad odor. Oh well.
Giant freezer. Brrrr!
Joey didn’t budge from the moment we stepped in to the moment we stepped out – Ipe had to carry him from one place to another as he refused to move or let his hands out of his jacket because of the cold. 

The sea lions, penguins, and Antarctica took a good two and a half hours and by 4:30, we were famished, having missed our lunch. And after standing in line for the most part, we really didn’t want to eat at the fast foods at the ground level. A good thing we spied this dimsum all you can at Makan Makan, the in-house fine-dining wing of the Ocean Park Complex. There’s only so much dimsum you can eat, but at Php350 per head, it was a steal, right? Plus, we needed the energy as we still had one activity – the Musical Fountain.
We almost didn’t get to see the Musical Fountain show as Joey wanted to go home already, but we managed to reach a deal with the little big boss and got him to stick around long enough to finish the light show, which started at 6PM. And a good thing we stayed. Joey couldn’t stop saying “wow” everytime the fountains would rush high up into the sky and when the mists would envelop everyone. 
I took a video of the entire light show but, it’s quite long, and rather than post it here, I’d recommend you go see it yourself. It’s not much but I’m sure kids would love it. I’d say it’s the perfect ending to our Sea Lion/Penguin trip on New Year’s Day. And judging from Joey’s contented sighs, I think this is the best New Year’s celebration we’ve had so far. 
Contented little boybie (my term of endearment for the kiddo – combination of boy and baby)
Check out the Manila Ocean Park’s website for the schedule and prices. If I’m not mistaken, their promos are only until January 15 so you’d better hurry!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!
It’s actually the first NYE that the little family unit spent away from our house. The usual routine would have me cooking something for the media noche feast and then lighting up some sparklers while simultaneously blowing our horns in the streets with the hubby and kid.
As luck would have it, I was sick for the last four days and while browsing through the net one time, I figured, why not eat at a buffet for a change and check-in somewhere in the Metro?

Arctic Hall at Hotel H2O

first live band of the night, played while we were getting food

yep, it’s food come tonight

salad – just had to pretend; of course I ate it, along with the other stuff you see in the photos

mallows and candy-coated chocolates!
dumpling and siomai 😛
halo-halo, which was really good! what milk did they use?

I can’t really say much about the food – wasn’t really spectacular. Lots of choices yes, but I didn’t like any of them, save for the thermidore and fish fillet. A good thing I got the 50% off deal over at one of the group buying sites as it’s honestly expensive to pay Php1,500 per head for the kind of food served that night. Even the dessert was lacking and I only like the halo-halo for its milk. 

Joey met another boy at the party and started blowing the free horns handed out my the hotel staff
Joey’s newest furry friend, Angry Bird, just had to join us

 

Anyway, they started giving out free cocktails around 11PM so I didn’t feel too bad anymore. In any case, there was a live band playing and they were REALLY good. Seriously. The girl sang Adele’s and Katy Perry’s songs effortlessly.  Plus, we were right by the bay and you all know how I love the ocean.
The Chill Factory – I love them; they’re good and you rarely hear me say this of live performances.

And hey, it’s new year’s eve, I’m feeling much better (after downing two painkillers), I’m with my family. That’s all that counts.

.

Family picture on the deck, waiting for the strike of 12

Opus

Kicked off the Christmas week via a party at Opus with my girlfriends from my former employer – which I almost missed. Actually, it’s a good thing dinner lasted three or four hours and Ipe agreed to take me, otherwise I really would have missed it. Anyway, I’m fast becoming an expert at grand entrances (translation: always late!).
Since they were all done with dinner, hubby and I ordered separate meals. Oh, and it was a buy one take one for their specialty cocktails from 7-9PM; though, being late, I only managed two orders spaced ten minutes apart. Ha! Nothing can keep me away from a good deal (though I had to keep myself in check – still had to report for work the next day. Big bummer. Haha.)
Anyway, it was my first time at Opus; though we live quite near Newport, hubby and I are too lazy to drive and almost always end up somewhere at the Fort. Plus, we’re not really big on clubbing and drinking (I hate the stinky smell that stays on your hair and pillows even after a week of washing your hair daily). It was quite impressive, what with the glass enclosure (though, unfortunately not sound proof; we were too engrossed with poking fun at the “foam” that comes with each dish we didn’t realize the chef/owner Carlo Miguel was at the next table) and murals on the walls. And the gleaming, sparkly cushioned seats! I felt right at home! I should have worn something sparkly but I wanted to stay low-key at the office.

Complimentary appetizer, which was really yummy!
Hubby and I ordered the Opus Tasting Menu and an extra main dish of pork belly. Quite pricey but really worth it – it was so good and I loved every single bite of it. Note though that each “menu” is only good for one – it’s a full course meal.
Pumpkin Sage Soup Bacon and Parmesan Ice Cream

Grilled Japanese eel and seared foie gras, cucumber jelly, pickled radish salad

Quail & Bacon Ravioli Mushrooms, Braised Leeks, Truffle Foam

Crispy skin pork belly and roast kurobuta pork tenderloin
cauliflower foam, braised red cabbage, pommery mustard jus

Crispy skin salmon fillet, basil foam

Dark chocolate fondant with salty caramel ice cream and malt foam

Now, as I mentioned earlier in my post, it was buy-one-take-one til 9, and a good thing hubby and I got there with a little over thirty minutes to spare (miracle that we made it from Makati to Newport in less than fifteen minutes too!) so I quickly ordered drinks even before our dinner. Can’t waste the opportunity. 
White Peach Margarita with Cuervo 1800 drizzled with Strawberry Puree with a Pink Salt and Sugar Rim

“Opus Magnum Mojito” Bacardi Silver muddled with Organic Spearmint. Kaffir Lime leaves, Lemongrass. Ginger, fresh citrus and topped with Sparkling Wine

The mojito is probably the best I’ve tasted so far. If I could go on drinking glass after glass, I would have (uh-oh, alcoholic much)

My lovely fasyon girlfriends – feels like I never left the company though it has been two years. Can you believe that?

Yes, Tin made it! She got there even later than I did, though of course, she came all the way from Eastwood so I didn’t really have an excuse

Arrgh. I need to go on a diet. Seriously.

I so love Leah’s skirt!

Til our next night out girls! Merry Christmas!

Theater: The Sound of Music

Who has not fallen in love with The Sound of Music when they were kids? Practically all of us have grown up listening to the songs from this musical and have watched the movie (or even the animated version shown over ABS CBN many years ago). Well, Ipe and I are huge fans; in fact, the hubby has even kept tabs on the stars well into adulthood. Needless to say, when we heard about the production being shown at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, we knew we had to watch.
Hubby was lucky enough to get three front row seats, right smack in the middle where you can see even the tiniest beads of sweat or the quiver of a lip of the performer.
The Story
For those unfamiliar with the Story of Music (I must ask you though, under what rock are you living under?), it’s actually the tale of how Maria Rainer, a postulant at the Nonnberg Abbey, was sent by the Mother Abbess to be a governess to the seven children of widowed baron, Captain Georg Von Trapp, during the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany.
A decorated naval officer, the Captain’s household is run with military precision, with all members of the household, his children include, responding to a whistle and their daily exercise consisting of coordinated marches. After the death of his wife, the Captain spent less and less time at their estate in Austria, and forbid music in their home. As a result, the children grew up not knowing him, and would always get rid of their governess since they knew that without one, their father would be forced to come home to hire a new one.
Maria, being the rule breaker that she is and with the best of intentions, brings out the children’s inborn love for music and teaches them how to sing in the Captain’s absence, and in the process forges a genuine caring relationship with the children.
By the time Captain Von Trapp returns home with his soon-to-be-fiancee, the Baroness Elsa Shraeder, the children have all undergone a great change in their demeanor, even learning to wear play clothes as opposed to the uniforms the Captain makes them wear. Needless to say, Maria and the Captain soon discover they are falling for the other, or rather, the people around them discover it.
Maria runs back to the convent, afraid that falling in love with the Captain is against her chosen vocation until the Mother Abbess convinces her that “just because you love the Captain, doesn’t mean you love God any less.” The two eventually get married and with the threat of the Captain being forced to lead a naval fleet as part of the German contingent (forcing him to choose whether to side with Germany for his family’s safety or keep true to his patriotic nature and refuse), must figure out how to survive while keeping their family intact.
There are subtle differences between the musical and the movie versions such as how the Captain and the Baroness broke up because of political differences (in the movie, the Baroness broke up with him because she realized he was in love with Maria), and how the Postman let them escape (again, in the movie, he wasn’t as nice; he actually alerted the Nazi of the Von Trapp’s plan and whereabouts); am not sure why, but either version works well with me.

Of course, there are also differences between the theatrical version and the real-life story of the von Trapp family but on the whole, remains true to the main story. 

The Production
Honestly, I have not watched many stage productions, and so my cannot compare it with much. Given this, I must say the production exceeded my expectations – from the set, to the costume, to the orchestra, to the actors.
Every scene is rendered vividly with the aid of a LED screen occupying the entire wall of the stage, reportedly one of the biggest in a theatre in Asia, further enhanced by backdrops that are so far one of the most elaborately prepared sets I have seen in the country. In fact, the props alone made me think that I was getting way more out of the deal than what I have paid for – it was quite obvious that no expense was spared for the production to be as faithful to the story’s setting as possible.
The transition from each act/scene was also seamless – each change of backdrop perfectly timed and coordinated and I didn’t feel or hear any scrambling going on onstage, even though I was seated just a few feet from the edge.
And for the ticket price (VIP tickets cost Php 2,000), I wasn’t really expecting a live orchestra to play but there they were! Being an accountant, I got quite preoccupied estimating the musical’s expenses, which I am expecting, is stratospheric compared to its revenues, even though they were performing for a full house (and I heard tickets are almost all sold out). Geeky ole me.
The Actors
Of course, the gems of any stage production are the actors. Really, you can get over an ugly set but will never get satisfied by a mediocre performance. I was looking forward to seeing Joanna Ampil who I have yet to see onstage but Cris Villonco was playing Maria last Saturday. I remember her from her days as an aspiring recording singer and while her voice was clear and  had depth, she never really reached full stardom, perhaps because of her too wholesome image, and the fact that her the songs she recorded were not really that memorable. So, I was initially less than thrilled that I would be watching her.
But to my pleasant surprise, she gave a powerful performance and really impressed me that night. I love, love, love her voice, how she effortlessly switched between notes and jumped octaves and conveyed her emotions through her voice. She brought me to tears several times (also, I was seated right in front of her that I could see her tears glistening onstage), especially when she realized she had fallen in love with the captain and that he was going to marry the Baroness, and in that scene when the Nazi’s were after them and she was telling the captain that his decision (whether to side with the Germans or escape) will also be her decision. I know some feminists will not like this part, arguing that she should have her own opinions, and while I agree with this view, there are some things wherein you will really have to respect your man’s decision.
The Captain was portrayed perfectly by Audie Gemora, no doubt my favourite Filipino stage actor. I was a fan of his even when I was younger and I must say the quality of his voice has not changed. He makes singing look so easy and I could feel the tension he was feeling as the Von Trapp family was performing at the Festival, with the Nazi waiting to take him away right after their performance. Really, I cannot say anything more other than he was damn good.
I must say though, I didn’t initially feel the attraction between the Captain and Maria, until well into the second act. And I found it quite amusing that Cris probably used to play his daughter in one musical or another but now plays his wife, though of course, we know that the love story of the captain and the novice was really a May-December affair.
And I must not forget to mention Pinky Amador’s performance as the Baroness and Sheila Francisco as the Mother Abbess, which were stellar. Marvin Ong as Rolf Gruber was also brilliant – I think he was my second favourite singer in the production, next of course to Audie.
Perhaps one of the best surprises of the night was seeing Debraliz as Frau Schmidt. It was a non-singing part but Debraliz was so hilarious and you could tell the audience was looking forward to her scenes as some of them give tiny whoops of delight whenever she was onstage. Indeed, she got one of the loudest claps at the curtain call.
There are some weak links in the line-up though, mostly on the actors playing the seven Von Trapp kids. Tanya Manalang as eldest daughter Liesl was okay but she should practice her breathing technique as I could hear every catch in her breath when she sings and there were instances when I was almost fearful that her voice would break. Paolo Ocampo, as eldest son Friedrich, was probably the wost singer in the bunch, and possibly the worst actor as well, given that, well, he couldn’t do either. But since the character doesn’t really have a solo number and just limited one-liners, this was not a big problem.
Oh, and a little bit of trivia: Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales’ baby girl Atasha plays Brigitta, the third youngest kid. I must say this kid has a bright future – she’s pretty and from the looks of it, inherited Aga’s acting chops as well.
The Final Say
I couldn’t sum up how good the production was but to repeat what I said above, I felt like Newport charged too less, considering the caliber and quality of the musical. And what better affirmation can I give you that it was good, other than that and to mention that all throughout the three-hour long musical, Joey sat still on his seat, occassionally even swinging his legs to the beat?
Souvenir program “Sazburg Gazette” showing current events in 1938; inside are primers about the production
Production runs until December 11 so hurry and get your tickets at Resorts World or at TicketWorld.

Ayala Triangle

It’s funny how I never really appreciated the Ayala Triangle before. My office is practically right across the park but I rarely get to visit it, and when I do, I’m usually in a hurry and there are too many people for me to just enjoy the view. 
Bright afternoon, right before it started to drizzle. Confusing weather we have!
So, as one of the silver linings to an otherwise sad working holiday, I asked hubby and the kid to have lunch with me at the Triangle last All Saints’ Day. Most of the restaurants were closed – understandably, since their clientele consists mostly of office workers, but a couple were open: Omakase, Momo, and Banapple.
Since we just ate at Banapple a couple of weeks back and it was so crowded and Joey doesn’t like Japanese food, we settled for Momo. I love this place – food is good (not spectacular, but still good) and the place is bright and homey.
Slow Roasted Herb U.S. Roast Beef Finger
I shared the beef fingers with hubby – I always order something new when I’m here but this one dish is constant. I could never finish it off myself though. It’s good enough to feed 2-3. 
Boneless Cornflakes Crusted “Country Fried Chicken”

I’m quite disappointed with the chicken, though. It was too bland for my taste. Cornflakes sounded like an intriguing substitute to your usual breading but I wish they just added more salt and pepper to liven up the dish a bit. 

Melted Crab and Spinach Blue Cheese Dip
I do love their cheese dips. Simply heavenly. Oh, and just thinking about their cheese pimiento (which you get free, along with two pieces of bread) is enough to make me salivate. I’m a sucker for cheese – I can eat an entire bar in one sitting so please forgive me for drooling now. Haha. 

*Momo has another branch at Eastwood Mall.

Manila Zoo

Finally! We were able to take Joey to the Manila Zoo after several months of planning last November 1. I’ve wanted to visit the Manila Zoo for several months now, coz four or five years have passed since my last trip there and I kind of missed the animals (seriously). And before that, I think an entire decade since the last one. So I was really curious to find out how the animals were doing as I had been reading not-so-nice articles about their plight.
The Manila Zoo is actually the oldest one not just in the country, but also in Asia, having opened its gates in 1959. Not that hard to believe as the place itself speaks of its age. And come to think of it, even the animals.
Mali, perhaps the biggest (literally) attraction at the zoo, donated from Sri Lanka:
If I am not mistaken, Mali is the same elephant I used to visit when I was a kid. It was so sad seeing her so old and living in a rundown and unkempt cage. Even her skin was all dried up and full of wrinkles. I mean, I know she’s old but I don’t think that’s the reason for her peeling skin.
Aside from Mali, I didn’t find any other interesting animals. Nothing against the tigers, monkeys and birds, but I was really looking forward to seeing the orangutan and the giraffe, the latter of which can only be seen at this zoo (except if you go to Calauit). But then, I realized that the orangutan has died (OF BOREDOM!) and I don’t know where giraffe is.
As I said, I saw lots of tigers, birds and monkeys. But I didn’t see any lions. I remember lots of lions – were they transferred somewhere in the zoo that I wasn’t able to visit?


Do you see the sleeping tiger?
More tigers
There are other attractions in the zoo, one of which is the kiddie zoo where you can ride a horse and have your picture taken, and of course, where kids can freely roam and play. But you have to pay separately. 
There were some colorful birds but I didn’t take photos. Not because I have lots of them (which I do, from the Tagaytay Highlands Zoo) – but because you have to pay a fee just to take a photo (yes, even if you won’t touch them or pose with them – YOU CAN’T TAKE A PHOTO!).
Hubby showing the kiddo the zebra. Can you spot its stripes?
I could tell Joey didn’t really like what he saw (there are more and better-kept animals at the Avilon and Zoobic, which he had visited already) but he enjoyed the man-made pond where you can rent a boat for Php60/half hour. Better psych yourself for this, as you’d be the one to paddle your own boat. Hubby and I were reluctant at first but Joey gave us his big puppy eyes (ala Puss in Boots) and started singing Row,Row, Row Your Boat that we couldn’t help but give in. All I can say, it was an unexpected exercise. We couldn’t believe we managed to circle the pond and make it back to the dock.
And as a souvenir, one of the roaming photographers took this photo of us, which I kind of like and will display somewhere around the house. Didn’t cost much – just about Php50. The hubby liked it so much he bought two copies. Ha!
Blurred – we only had the printed one and I didn’t have time to scan it; I just took a photo of it with my phone . 😛
It reminds me a lot of the family picture we had at the zoo twenty years ago (when it was just my sister and me – our brother had yet to be born). It didn’t change much, not even the boats. 
Which in turn, reminded me of this picture taken twenty six years ago (when I was still an only child):
Now this one, is really blurred. It’s a very old photo of mine. In fairness, at least it looked like they painted the boats. 

Joey was singing so loudly while waiting for our boat and a lot of people found it amusing. It was part of the “deal” – Ipe and I will row, but he has to sing. Hehehe. 
All in all, I think it was a good trip. But I really, really wish the government would renovate the place. Or just give it to the private sector. A lot of people, myself included, wouldn’t mind paying higher entrance fees as long as we get our money’s worth. 

Entrance fee: Php40 for non-residents of Manila/Php20 for non-resident students. I believe rates are half for Manila residents, just bring your ID.

National Museum

Ipe and I almost always find ourselves in the Intramuros area whenever we don’t have anything to do and this Sunday was no exception. But given that it was high noon and it would have been torture to roam around under the sun, we decided to go to the National Museum first, as it had been over a year since our last visit.
Luckily for us, several wings have been reopened to the public AND you can go in for free! Apparently, Sundays are free so better make the trip. 🙂
Hall of Masters
First on our stop was the Hall of Masters. You can’t really miss this as this is the main hall of the entire building and it’s directly in front of the museum entrance. Here, you will find the masterpieces of Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo: the Spoliarium and the Assassination of Bustamante. 
The Assassination of Bustamante

Spoliarium
I love their work and while I can’t decide who the better painter is, I personally prefer Hidalgo. His paintings look so life-like, especially his portraits. Even the gradation of light to depict creases and wrinkles on the skin is rendered so masterfully. If you stand a few feet back from his paintings, you’d think they were photographs.
Unfortunately, most of Hidalgo’s paintings, indeed all my favourites of his, are located in a different museum – at the Bangko Sentral Museum to be specific so you might want to check it out (it’s just a few kilometres away).
One painting of Luna that I particularly like, is his Portrait of a Lady. I can’t determine what draws me to it, perhaps the colors or how the face reminds me of European paintings (we have the Louvre coffee table book full of paintings at home and I browse through it in my idle time – a sort of present/souvenir from hubby from his trip there).  
Portrait of a Lady
 
Amorsolo
The Museum has an entire gallery devoted to Fernando Amorsolo’s works – from his sketches to his paintings. Fitting enough, considering that he is our country’s first National Artist for Painting.

some of Amorsolo’s portraits

Walls full of sketches
Favorite Paintings
Several galleries are devoted to paintings and indeed, there is one devoted entirely to National Artists such as painters Joya, Edades and sculptors Abueva and Tolentino. Masters who belong to that distinct group of last men you address only by their last names. Funny though that I felt like I was rattling off the names of condominium towers at Rockwell. 😛
Modern Maria Clara by Victorio Edades, 1958
Kagampanan by Napoleon Abueva, 1970

Bust by Guillermo Tolentino

The Hills of Nikko by Jose Joya, 1964
There were also other paintings which I particularly like, spread out across various galleries.

Up Site Today, Dominador Castaneda, 1945
Fugitive from the Japanese, Dominador Castaneda, 1945
Bonifacio Brother by Carlos Valino, 1973

Death March, Dominador Castaneda, 1948

Hmm, I seem to favor a lot of paintings by Castaneda. I love the theme – mostly WWII. Nothing gory but it somehow evokes strong emotions from me.
Mother’s Revenge by no less than Jose Rizal

Some of my favorite halls, especially the “checkered” hall – reminds me of San Agustin Church in Intramuros and Baclayon Church in Bohol:

Senate Session Hall

One notable portion that Ipe and I were really excited to see is the old Senate Session Hall at the 3rd level of the building. It was based on the original design of Ralph Harrington Duane as revised by Juan Arellano.
The ornaments were done by Isabelo Tampinco and his sons Angel and Vidal. If I am not mistaken, this is one of very few structures, if not the only one, in the country with such intricate statues of Greek and Egyptian gods. The statues though were too far up for me to see and my trusty camera can’t get a good enough zoom photo of them; but while these lend grandeur to the hall, I was a bit confused as to what this myriad of characters was supposed to represent.
In any case, the hall is still under renovation; I honestly didn’t think hubby and I should be there but the workers kind of forgot to close the main doors so we just assumed it was open for viewing (and only as we were exiting the place did we see the “No Entry” sign).

The Progress of Medicine

A recent addition to the masterpieces housed in the museum is Carlos Francisco’s Progress of Medicine – a set of four panels depicting the evolution of medicine in the country from pre-colonial, colonial, American and the Modern Era (up until the time it was painted in any case, back in 1953). These paintings were commissioned by Dr. Eduardo Quisumbing, Dean Agerico Sison, Dr. Florentino Herrera Jr., and Dr. Constantino Manahan, and were originally installed in the entrance hall of the Philippine General Hospital.
The paintings should be viewed chronologically, clockwise, from top left
Obviously though, being exposed to the public in uncontrolled temperature and humidity had deteriorated the paintings so badly that several restoration works had to be done to salvage them, until finally, it was decided that they be transferred to the Museum where they can be better preserved for future generations. As a compromised, a detailed replica was installed in its original location.
Under Renovation
There are still lots more rooms under renovation; indeed, there are more closed rooms than open and I am almost giddy with anticipation for when they do finally open. I saw a note on one of the hallways that the renovation cost for the entire place is budgeted at Php10MM and I was, to be honest, dismayed. Even without much knowledge in construction, I knew that budget was too small to fully restore the museum to its old grandeur. That amount is barely enough to cover one floor, let alone a mammoth complex. I wish rich art patrons would donate to this cause because there’s a lot of potential for it to be really attractive and worth tourists’ money.

For those who haven’t visited yet, you can take the 360-degree tour here.