Thursday, December 6, 2007

My Christmas TV Ad

Whoever said that truth is stranger than fiction must have led a pretty interesting life.

Several months back, we were tasked to create a Christmas campaign. I've then fumbled into making about 20 storyboards, all of which got disapproved or deemed too cluttered or usual and just ended up as yesterday's recycled paper. But on the last stretch of presentations, I just asked myself what was Christmas supposed to be...

I reviewed my life the past year, and wrote it down. Told my boss, "here, this was MY Christmas." It wasn't entirely sad, but not happy either. They loved it. The clients loved it. People around the region loved it. And for a country/society that shies away from the thought of divorce or separation, I'm quite relieved that there was good feedback.

So guys, here's a semblance to my autobiography.

By the way, this is the project that had post-production in Sydney. Directed by multi-awarded Aussie director Kriv Stenders.

DOWNSIDE: At the office, I got either really odd, sympathetic looks or eyeball-rolling and comments like "get over it already!"

UPSIDE: This spot actually made Sandra feel good. It made me feel good as well. It also got the highest scores in consumer research. After the hours of overtime work, I just got a pat on the back.

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Political Melodrama

Except for snow, this country has seen it all. Yesterday was the biggest staging of military hysterics, with Senator/soldier Trillanes demanding the madame president to step down and asking the people to come join his cause. With the bloody rain and tons of work, does he actually think (even if the rumors of Arroyo's shady dealings are true) that I'm gonna go out there and rally for his cause? Geez, what was he thinking? I've met a lot of gay people, but this guy is definitely the biggest drama queen as of yet.

To make matters worse, an equally melodramatic president retaliated by gassing and pouring bullets on my favorite hotel (yeah, that was really necessary to capture two people). And as a show of her control, she imposed a curfew to make sure there would be no public gatherings in support of Trillanes.

Let's get this straight, the people are so f*ckin' tired of rallies. (I've been doing them since 1983, waayy before I got my period). They can't expect people to join an Nth coup d'etat! We Filipinos are finally making sense of putting this country forward, by taking care of real business and leaving politicians to yap endlessly by themselves. The Makati business community didn't even budge when the military trucks and tank (singular) rolled in. We now realize that if there's anything this country needs, it's a semblance of progress. And this never-ending banter about who should stay in power is embarrassingly childish.

Preparations for the next presidential elections are under way, can't you guys just wait instead? Whether Gloria Arroyo is corrupt or not, is beside the point (I expect all presidents to be corrupt anyway). The point is, political hysterics and a negative business atmosphere create more damage to this country. You guys just unnecessarily shredded Manila Peninsula Hotel, let's keep it at that.

Meanwhile, this is a picture from of Singaporean tourists, posing with the bullet-riddled Manila Pen at the background. Geez, they're all-smiles like they just visited a circus... and the sad part is, that's what it is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Ad Congress Parade

Last week, we all trooped to Subic for the 20th Philippine Advertising Congress. So aside from the conventions and the awards, the highlight of the event is the PARADE OF AGENCIES. Each agency represented an endangered specie or medium in this changing world. I got "volunteered" to be one of the mannequins for our presentation.
DOWNSIDE: I was forced to wear a white cat suit for the parade, and I couldn't refuse.
UPSIDE: My undies never showed, We won first prize, and when I showed this to my daughter, she thought I was pretty cool.

Here are some of the parade participants:

THEME: Death of Radio

THEME: Death of the Landline

THEME: Death of Snail Mail

THEME: Death of Asian Culture

THEME: Death of Haute Couture
CREDITS: Monica of McCann

Us performing on stage. In case anyone's wondering, I'm the second girl from the left.

The winning pose! I'm on the furthest left.

After the parade, posing with the giant cheque prize, which isn't so giant considering it got covered by someone's head dress.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sleepless in Sydney

After 21 storyboards and three months of working overtime, there are perks to my job. Post production in Sydney! After a gruelling 12 hour overnight trip (there was a stopover at Brisbane) we arrived just before 7am. And my colleagues and I figured, oh it's a nice spring morning, why waste it catching sleep? So we headed off to the Sydney Opera House (yeah, I'm soooo much like a tourist). Never mind that I haven't slept a wink in my claustrophobic economy seat. This is a celebration of my project finally seeing itself through. The half smile-grimace comes with the embarrassment of posing like this, you know, for posterity's sake. (Hi, Mom!)

And oh, the birds. They're definitely not shy. They virtually attacked us as we sat down to have lunch in one of those al fresco cafes in Circular Quay. I asked the waitress what kind of birds were they and she replied with thick Ukranian accent "Duh? Seagulls?" Gee, I thought seagulls were bigger, and cuter. (Pardon my ignoramusness but my only reference was the cartoon Finding Nemo. These critters don't exist in SEAsia). And if my memory serves me right, I think their diet consist of fish. So how come they were stealing my french fries?

On our first night, we headed out near The Rocks in search of dinner. Our client was looking for a certain seafood restaurant called Doyle's. It was supposedly a great reasonably-priced restaurant. But we ended up in a place called Peter Doyle @ the Quay and we assumed it was the same thing. Let me tell you, the oysters were excellent, sweet and fresh; the lobster had a melt-in-your-mouth texture; the scallops were to die for. The view was top-notch, with luxury cruisers and yachts passing by the illuminated opera house backdrop -- And the bill was over $600. That's the only time I realized we were at the high-end Doyle restaurant. (I was told the original Doyle restaurant only charges $20 for a bucket of prawns so imagine my dismay!) Anyway I'm so glad the supplier paid for it. Now that's a real company treat.

Of course, we had to work sometime. The post production facility was right smack in Oxford street, which happens to be home to the biggest gay mardi gras parade. Anyway, there was a glitch in the film encoding and we wasted time staring at nothing. This pose (we pretended to stare at the monitor) was proof of the lull time. And just in case anyone noticed, the crossed arm pose had been constant for me the whole time I was in Sydney. That's because I was shivering. I can't withstand temps below 15 deg Celsius!

Walking down the street from the office, there were a lot of interesting shops. Let's see... Optometrist... Adult shop... adult show... Fetish paraphernalia... Me definitely not in Kansas!

Trivia: not all Asians love videoke, but we definitely love the camera. No matter how embarrassed we are and how inappropriate it may seem, we just need to snap something for posterity (I once attacked Imelda Marcos with my phonecam, but that's a different story). Anyway, in a place seemingly ordinary to the native Australian, we decided to pose yet again, but in a less eager manner. Simple controlled grins, no V-signs on the fingers. Just pretend we're blending in the background kind of pose. After which, a guy suddenly approached me and said "wow, it's amazing how you mates just walk in different stages and look back at the cam. Perfect blocking!" All I could respond was... "Moshi! Moshi!"

On our last few days there, we went to the Sydney Aquarium, which connects right to the open sea. I would think Ocean Park In Hong Kong is a lot more impressive, but the species in SA are much more varied and interesting. Lots of sharks. Didn't find Nemo, but I got to meet Bruce!

As a parting shot, here's me holding for dear life in a ferry on the way to Tarronga Zoo. The wind was chilly, it was drizzling, the kangaroos and the koalas were practically hibernating when we got there. But all in all, it was a fun week. So fun, it made me sad that I couldn't bring Sandra along. Oh well, my visa's valid until next year. Who knows? :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween @ Work

DOWNSIDE: The Halloween theme for this year is Video Games. I decided to come as Chun Li from Streetfighter, but because I couldn't find a blue cheongsam and white boots, I made do with what's available. So I ended up looking like a hooker from Miss Saigon the Musical.

UPSIDE: I looked like a damn good-looking hooker from Miss Saigon the Musical.

(I bought a pink wig in Hong Kong about 5 years ago and never really knew what to do with it. Its now put into good (?) use when I lent it to my boss who is dressed in drag, pretending to be the character in "Alias".)

Halloween is a BIG event at the office. Bigger than Christmas. I suppose it's because Christmas is spent with families and is a more solemn occasion. But Halloween is when we're given license to be a little silly and be a spectacle to clients as well as other companies in the same building.

Here are some characters at work. From Left: Velma from Scooby Doo, A character from Harry Potter, Winx, me, Darth Vader, a Jedi from Starwars snuggling up to the Mushroom of Mario Brothers, a witch, a medieval video game character whose name escapes me, and the nerdy girl-character in GhostBusters.

Sandra also came for trick-or-treating dressed as Sabrina the Witch, but she refused to pose normally for the camera, saying that camera flashes would kill her. One click and she croaked. Oh what fun. Sigh.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

BOMBING IN MAKATI, and what really hurts

From my desk, I have a great view of the Makati Skyline, including Makati Medical Center. And at about 2:15 pm I saw rows of ambulances heading to the ER receiving area, with a sizeable crowd milling about. Heard the faint sound of sirens and I knew something must have happened.

Then we got a text message. Bombing at Glorietta. Oh God. Not again.

I've always thought bombing is a cheater's way to waging war. Childhood memories of water bombs being thrown at me when I least expected it didn't seem to be a fair way to conquer the playground. And now, it's a lot more treacherous when the intent is to instill fear on unsuspecting people.

The wreckage is big but not something so big it can't be repaired in a month. The casualties involved 9 dead -- That's still small compared to the bomb that exploded in Pakistan which involved over 100 deaths. I was monitoring the news and the Philippines didn't even make the headlines on CNN and BBC. Not that I'd like us to compete for most bombed city, but you get what I mean. This country is not that bad.

I guess what really hurts is that the Philippines has great people, has progressive thinkers, and we are on the verge of fast-tracking development and globalization. The Philippine peso has strengthened against the dollar at P44. Things are starting to look up. And then shit happens. The rest of the world (which may be ignorant to the woes of this country) will just dismiss us as a volatile nation. Investors will pull out. And we may go back to square one.

And at dinner last night with the Coke team and the Aussie film guys, the joke was they can't wait to get back to Sydney because they don't want to be here when the country implodes. Gee, thanks.

There's a lot of speculation happening now on who did it. The finger-pointing is surreal. Did the terrorists do it? Did Gloria order it? Nobody is making a claim. Goddammit, I thought bombing a place is all about making a political statement. At least the Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for 9-11. But what happened yesterday was all about making people scared of no one in particular. The news feed from Inquirer (where I got this photo from) and Star were so depressing, I had to stop watching or reading the news.

But I simply can't shut it out of my mind. This is my neighborhood. Doing groceries will now be a task filled with paranoia. Everytime I'd remember Kids at work (the daycare that collapsed in Gloretta) I'll always have that chilling thought of injured kids. The next time I'd sit at my cubicle at work, I'd remember the rushing ambulances with victims who never made it to the emergency room.

And while everything on Monday will be business as usual, peace of mind will not be what it used to be.

ADDENDUM 10/29/2007: Police says it's a diesel leak accident, blaming the explosion on Ayala. Ayala says the diesel tank is intact (if it was the source, then it should've discombooberated) and that something or someone may have triggered the explosion. Lots of finger pointing happening now. Meanwhile, is it safe to do some shopping?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My Favorite TV Ad

Still brings me the giggles... :-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Birthdays, Mothers, Daughters

Sometime on the last week of September, the dreaded day came. Not that I'm dreading about turning a year older, but because just like a senior in college, I am cramming to fix the rest of my life... You know how all those school projects, case studies and thesis made you think you knew everything? Well, turned out I didn't. And in the school of life, just when I'm half-way through, I shifted to another course.

But before I blab about how I'd be planning the next three decades of my life, let me focus on this day.

Nanay (my beloved term for my Mom) called me up at 6 am just to make sure she greeted me first. I guess if there's anyone who shouldn't forget a birthday, it's gotta be the woman who gave birth to you. She asked me what my plans were and I said I had work that day. Also told her I can't splurge, since my quarterly rent was due end September.

I could tell by her silence that she felt a bit sorry for me, and she went out of her way to say maybe I should go see you today. I didn't want to be responsible for the elevated blood pressure she might get travelling from Kalookan to Makati, so I said I'll just see you on the weekend, mom.

"But you have to celebrate your birthday. I always did, even when you're not with me" her voice cracked.
Translation: You are my baby and I'm glad I gave birth to you.

I guess it's a less obvious way of saying she loves me. And that alone warmed an otherwise stressful day.

Now for the other female in my life. Sandra was jumping around all week saying she had a gift for me. That morning, she presented a nice little parfum with a vanilla scent. Personally, I prefer citrus or clean scents rather than sweet ones. But she said she picked the perfume herself, and this is how a Mommy should smell like. And I wouldn't want to debate on the taste of a 7-year old. Especially if it came with intricate gold wrapping from Rustans. I thanked her and texted thanks to the Ex as well (no doubt, he paid for it).

But what really got me was this... The birthday drawing. She started doing them for me since she was two, and I've looked forward in receiving them, and seeing how the artwork improves with each year. And being in 2nd grade, and only given pencils, crayolas and craypas, she thought of it as a special grown-up treat to use the "forbidden medium"... Colored ballpens. I must say that it does look nice on my cubicle wall.

That night, we ate at TGI Friday's. Just Sandra and me. She had the kiddie platter, I had the Santa Monica Nacho Crusted fish, which was surprisingly excellent. Extra crispy and spicy on the outside, and melt-your-mouth Dory Fillet on the inside. Sandra even got envious and kept forking my fish. We topped it off with an Oreo ice cream sandwich and pretended it was a cake.

Then she said to me, " Can we tell the waiters it's your birthday? I want them to sing for you."
I replied "Never mind, baby. I'm a bit embarassed because there's only the two of us, it's not like we have a dinner party or anything".
And then she hugged me and said "Oh mom, you think too much."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Alcohol-Laced Observations on a Gay Night

Went bar-hopping with gay friends and it was pretty amusing. The lack of men and the abundance of vodka has brought about much mental masturbation and bitching on simple truths. The following thoughts were pondered after the 4th round. If they don't make any sense, oh well... They did at the time we thought of them.

1. The New Look of Power. This vampy woman is by no means a night crawler, but the current iron butterfly of the leading cellphone brand. Thank Gawd the suits no longer wear suits. However, on a night of Hed Kandi and cosmopolitans, the only thing that separates her from the night crawler would be to examine her outfit’s cut and fabric. And unfortunately, only the gay men can distinguish that it’s a Pucci. (Or is it a Morgan? Geez, even I don't know!)

2. The New Hetero Go-Go. There are men-only girlie bars. There are Chippendales and women-only strip clubs. There are bars just for gays. I'm just glad a new breed of Go-Go is coming into this mix. Went to O bar in Malate and found it refreshing that there was a guy and girl tandem on stage. Except for the slightly skimpy outfits, they didn't strip down. They were just up there dancing like the flyboys and flygirls of MTV Grind. It was good, clean fun. Sort of reminds me of a time when people go to discos to dance and just that. Also noticed that people don't come on to each other too much in that atmosphere. The whole atmosphere feels a wee bit platonic. Maybe it's because the flygirl was clothed, not for sale, and is really a deans-lister at La Salle and just dancing for fun. Or maybe it's because everyone danced to Madonna's Jump and that killed the sleaze factor altogether. Or maybe because the bar is owned by gays (though not a bonafide gay bar) and the male and fale patrons can't really mess around bec its neutral ground...

3. The Emerging New Face of the Filipina. We (myself along with colleagues, college buddies, etc) have always been asked, how come you don’t look Pinay? And defensively we answer, how is one supposed to look anyway? The trouble is, we are expected to be petite and brown-skinned and dusky, with a figure that would fit a size 1 from China. But the Filipina look is changing. Centuries of interracial breeding has finally created a more diverse-looking population. I can’t help it if my nose looks like an Italian schnozz. Or if my hair is naturally curly. Filipinas do have curly hair, it’s just that they’re brainwashed into hair straightening. The point is, the mestizas (Eurasians, mongrels, mudbloods) of questionable descent are also facing the world stage, representing the Philippine race, and are proud to embrace this culture. Sure, we get some perks and can demand a little more respect from anyone with a colonial mentality. But there's still that they vs. us. We can't haggle in Divisoria market because they think we're not a local. That's the price one has to pay for not being brown.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Losing Innocence

With the brouhaha over Disney girl Vanessa Hudgens, I would say she's not the only one who lost her innocence.

Last week, my daughter clicked the Internet Explorer icon and out came the MSN homepage. And on the headlines, she read DISNEY BACKS VANESSA HUDGENS NAKED PHOTO. As she was reading the article, she asked a barrage of questions:
Mom, isn't she the girl in high school musical?
She has a photo with no clothes on?
Oh, she wanted to give her photo to a boy... To Zack?
Is he her boyfriend?
Do boys like it when they see girls naked?"

Not really wanting to lie, I just answered as matter-of-factly as I could.
I don't know.
The last question, though I struggled, I answered Yes.

Ohmigawd. I am totally unprepared for the day that she would ask sensitive questions about sex. But I'd rather she asked me, than go off researching on the net.

"Mom, I feel bad".
"Because I thought she was a good girl".
"Well, it doesn't mean that she's a bad person, baby. People make mistakes. Her mistake was not thinking of consequences".

Sandra did look disillussioned. Nobody likes to see their idol defamed. It's as bad as the Jollibee Mascot sex video joke.

"Mommy, anyway... how did her boobies look like?
That I didn't answer.

Pretty Offended

I was rushing to a talent casting session yesterday. The corridor leading to the casting room was dotted with prospective talents with their managers and agents. Being always in a hurry, I just squeezed myself in and huffed a quick "excuse me, coming through" for people to make way.

Then this guy, whoever he is, goes Miss, you gotta fall in line"
I looked back, not quite getting what he's saying. I'm in a rush here. So I asked, "hello? why do I have to fall in line?"
And then he answered "because all the models have to register".

Oh, man you should've seen my face!
I then politely told him I'm actually from the ad agency, and my presence was needed to pick the models, not to act as one. But I did manage to commend him for keeping the session organized. I also managed to keep myself from grinning and not snort a giggle.

But deep inside... tee hee hee hee...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Setting: In line at a Coffee Counter.
Woman ahead of me places her order to the barista.

Woman: one broddycap.
Barista: (confused) uh... Mocha Frap?
Woman: No, Broddycap.
Barista: Ma'am, we don't have caps or hats.
Woman: Broddycap! Yor selling it! I see it on sign board!

I guffawed when I glanced up at the menu board.
Yup, the woman was right.
They do have brewed decaf.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hi-Tech Toilet

I get amused with the simplest things... Having been around SouthEast Asia, I'm quite happy just seeing a clean toilet. But when I managed to see one of these babies in Greenbelt, talk about being impressed. I was like, whoa, holy crap!

So um... Anal massage anyone?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dear Santa

Another cheap thrill. My daughter is one of the kids who voiced for this Radio spot. I'm so impressed with her, she has done TV, print and radio at age 7. And I swear, I had nothing to do with it. :-)

Note: For some reason, the video plug-in has bugs, depending on the browser. For this reason I switched from Safari to Firefox. Holler if the video (well, radio ad) doesn't play.

Two Seconds of Fame

Well, not really fame. Sort of like a really cool cheap thrill for me and my daughter. Here are a series of ads for car headlights released in Manila Bulletin last August 25.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Click, Click, Ow!

DOWNSIDE: Annual Medical Exam interfered with work. Not only did I (ok, we) have to line up for the blood test, I had to multi-task and think of a promo tvc while in line. On top of that, I almost passed out from not having breakfast.
UPSIDE: Blood test may finally prove that I am anemic, have low blood platelet count, extremely low cholesterol levels due to not eating properly and not getting enough sleep. And maybe the office will see how weak I am and grant me some time off! A vacation, finally!.. Well, I can dream, can't I?

UPSIDE: Free pap smears, to be conducted by our friendly Medicard medical technician. And it's done here, right in our office! No need to go to Makati Med!
DOWNSIDE: Cannot fathom idea of having my privates poked with a speculum while hearing the clickety-clicks of neighboring keyboards. Or worse, officemates hearing my gasps (definitely not from pleasure) from the next cubicle. I'll pass, thanks.

UPSIDE: They said I am eligible for a free ECG exam.
DOWNSIDE: I qualified because of my age.

DOWNSIDE: The FGD room has a one-way mirror to another room -- this is where we ad people view consumers' reactions to certain ads. Nothing bad about that, right? Try having the X-ray procedures done here. And be told to strip down and face the mirror braless. Hello, world!

DOWNSIDE: Our urinalysis and fecalysis samples are temporarily placed next to the pantry area.
UPSIDE: Office-wide appetite loss.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

My Mr. Brazil

Ever since I got neuro-gassed at Sandra's birth, my memory has been awful. So awful, I can't even recall the name of this model whom I personally picked and shot. To think he's deliciously cute!

So what's the point? Why do I have a Brazilian hunk on my blog? Well, let's say that apart from needing some eye candy and make my posts less sad (that's the general feedback lately), I got pretty amused with him.

He's about 21 years old, eats carb like a cop, gorgeous but not too full of himself and just about the most professional kid (young model) I've met. He's FOB from Sao Paolo, and not because he was flown in specifically for this project. He flew in by himself. Sort of gambled on his luck, charm and good looks. He wanted to make money and knew that SouthEast Asia is a good place to boost his modelling career. With all the demand for more Eurasian-looking talents, I practically knew he'd get approved by the clients the minute I saw him. Plus, those rock-hard abs were pretty convincing.

But what really moved me was at a young age, he knew what he wanted. Times must be hard, so he gave up school and marketed himself to modelling agencies around the globe. He was driven by need.

Geez, what was I doing at 21? I was trying to decide whether to be a journalist, or be a copywriter. I was concerned with boys and fashion. I still lived with my MOM! I didn't have a savings account. I had no sense of what would happen in the future.

He on the other hand, has travelled across Europe, North America, Asia... has been saving money, has tried to learn the language of every single country he's visited. He's only been in Manila for 3 weeks and could already understand conversational Tagalog.

If I were his Mom, I'd be so proud.

By the way, his Coke Light billboard is at Greenbelt 3, Makati Ave side. His abs are in posters around the malls as well.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jesus, You've Got Mail.

I've mentioned before in an earlier post about wondering why and how did Sandra's teachers and guidance counselor took a special interest in the fact that her parents are separated. And now I know why.

Went to her school for Parents' day. The ex and I agreed (well, we fought first. sigh) that I should be the one attending it, you know, to avoid making a scene. I was late as usual. The classroom was already packed with earnest kids and matching doting parents, the sight that would be teeth-tingling if I totally lacked any wholesome Brady Bunch family empathy. I was alone, but okay. Maybe just a wee bit envious, but I thought if I can just go through the motions as quickly as possible, this event would be painless.

Or so I thought.

There were lots of cards displayed on the class bulletin board. Parents' day cards with a Dear Jesus letter. I thought it would be a great idea to go scoot over there and look at 'em cards and avoid socializing altogether. I caught the teacher making a sideways glance at me as I approached Sandra's card. And before I could say Holy Press Release, I caught The Dear Jesus part in her missive. I don't want my parents to have problems and pls try to put them together and love each other agin (sic). Talk about bringing in the big kahunas, my daughter is now asking Jesus what she couldn't ask me. The thing is, THIS card isn't a personal letter, it's a class project for the teacher, the whole class and all the other parents to see. I glanced at the teacher again and she smiled at me. Hmmm... So this is what it feels like to star in your own reality show. LOL

At home, I asked my daughter about the card, and she told me not to worry about it. "Besides, I asked Jesus, Mommy. Not you. You don't have to do anything about it".

I wish it were that simple. I wish I can call on divine intervention and have my prayers answered. But even the most pious of people cannot afford to have that much faith, or be just fatalists. And oftentimes, people being human, would pray for the wrong things anyway, and God knows (if and when he's listening) if he'll take these prayers seriously.

I thanked Sandra for the prayer. Yes, maybe Dad and I shouldn't fight anymore. I'd pray for that. But right now, just that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Breakables

UPSIDE: Wow! They're finally giving the trophies away!
DOWNSIDE: Um, Er... Where should I put them?

Lots of changes happening now. Our Chief Creative Officer is revamping the Creative Department -- not just the organization, but also the decor. Among those eased out were the old trophies from the past Ad Congresses and Creative Guilds Awards. So when they announced if it has your name on it, you can get it , I grabbed mine. Having them now fills me with both pride and regret. I remember being a young writer, winning an award and feeling like a hotshot. But now that I'm handling accounts that are more hungry for profit rather than accolade, it's harder to get this chunk of glass.

Anyway, since I don't have the space in my flat (and would be petrified having breakables around) they now sit on my cubicle window. So when I get writer's block or when I feel blue I could always say hey you, you didn't do too bad. .

Friday, August 17, 2007

Here Comes The Rain

It's more like a storm, actually. It's been raining for days, and I've been coming to work drenched to the skin. The city I love is engulfed in a dull gray hue, even after lunch, which is when I snapped this pic. Being a closet clinically-depressed person, I took pains to appear peppy in times of gray. I play music, I put on make-up, and unlike the UV-ray avoiders here, I am the only one in the creative department who'd pull up the window blinds. I like looking at the cityscape, the coastal view, the sunset. It really takes so little to cheer me up. Blue skies and white puffy clouds enchant me most of the time and I stare at them when I'm brainstorming by myself. But now, with the skies so dim, so is my disposition.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


UPSIDE: People mistook me for a very educated Japanese American with an L.A. valley girl accent, thereby sealing a preconception that I must be a sophisticated, cosmopolitan woman.

DOWNSIDE: Except for being educated, I am not any of these. And I'm not comfortable being in a social circle that only accepts me because they thought of me differently. Like, "she can't be pinay, because she doesn't project 3rd world".

The international community would often perceive Pinays to be either dowdy, or if they put on some bling they must be hookers. Only the mestizas and Eurasians can get away with flash. That's Manila for you. Perceptions haven't changed since the Spanish Era of colonial brain washing.

But globally, cultures are accepting change and cities are becoming diverse. So to some, my own eurasian look and accent are misleading, but to others, these are just manifestations of being a global citizen. One who works in an international community therefore must have the look (and in my case, accent) that is acceptable and understandable.

I am Pinoy as one can be, with an improved system and packaging.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Magic of Roses

I must've looked like I'm at my wit's end for someone to hand this to me. I would rather get pity, or money, or make-up --anything. But Flowers are different. They symbolize a lot of things, and open a lot of questions with answers I'm not sure I want to know. Flowers have the power to make me gush, a feeling I almost hate to admit. Historically, I only receive them when there's an occasion (get well, valentine's, birthday, mother's day) but never without one. When asked what's the reason for this, the answer was charity. A forlorn rose peddler with no sale was the subject of pity. And the second subject was me, with my obvious streak for glum, paranoia and lack of confidence, I must have been the perfect recipient. I placed them in an old crystal vase, in between bills and clutter. And in the middle of that disarray, was a ray of light. a thing of beauty. It's like seeing hope.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Trip to the Guidance Counselor

There it was, a note on her student diary. She has been interviewed by the guidance counselor again. Those words filled me with apprehension. What do they want with my daughter? Much as I'd like to think of her school as just another mass money-making educational facility, I am slightly pleased, surprised and yet scared -- yes, very much so in fact -- that they have taken an interest in my daughter's psychological well-being. An interview means they're making assessments. Of what, I have no idea.

So I asked her. She replied carefully, in short sentences, as if she was focusing on keywords and thinking about editing them if I make the slightest wince. They talked about her favorite subjects, where she lived, playmates if any, etc etc etc.

I was cutting pictures for her art project and I was hoping to keep my hands steady. I'm quite certain they asked about me, about her Dad. For crying out loud, they have 13 sections on the 2nd grade, why this particular interest on my daughter? They must be taking into account that she's a product of a broken family, and therefore needs special attention. And I was right.

"Mommy, there are three of us in my class who have separated parents, and they talked to all three of us", she said. Aha. Oh well, I expected that.

"So what did they say to you?" I asked.

She smiled and shrugged, "oh stuff I already know. They told me IT will be ok. And I already know that".

I hugged her. Yes, darling, it will.

On Dina Lohan and Lynne Spears

I stumbled upon this article a couple of days ago at and got a bit affected by it. People are just quick to dismiss that a child is the way he or she is because of the mother (and just the mother, as if dad has no influence whatsoever!)

I guess what struck a nerve is I do have something in common with these moms (and no, my child is not a superstar). I am like them, a single mom, human enough to do the occasional partying -- though I hardly drink and I don't smoke -- I try to raise my child as protectively as I can, but I am the unconventional mother. I urge my child to question, to fight back, I drill her with schoolwork but at play, I allow her to make mistakes. After all, children as well as mothers are just human. And the mistakes will happen, whether you're a fun-crazy mom or straight-laced tight-assed matriarch.

Published: July 29, 2007

“I FEEL bad for Lindsay. I feel very strongly it it her mother who is her worst enemy. She has planted that seed in her that the party crowd is the place to be.”

“i blame her mom. father wanted to do the wright thing.”

“her mom doesn’t even act like a mother figure, she acts more like a sister to lindsay!”

On Tuesday morning, just hours after Lindsay Lohan was arrested on charges of driving with a suspended license, driving under the influence and felony cocaine possession, the typically vituperative posts (also, typically, grammatically challenged and typo-ridden) showed up on celebrity gossip Web sites like TMZ and Us Weekly.

Dina Lohan, Lindsay’s mother, was their target — not her father, who has served time in prison, battled his own addictions and was mostly absent during Lindsay’s childhood. While some people may point fingers at him for her problems, most bloggers and celebrity-gawkers see him as a lost cause, and put the onus on her mother.

“People like to blame Dina Lohan,” said Janice Min, the editor in chief of Us Weekly. “I think there’s a belief that mothers will do anything for their kids, while fathers come and go.”
(Dina Lohan did not respond to requests for comment for this article; after her daughter’s arrest, she told the celebrity news TV show “Insider,” “We are doing everything in our power in support of Lindsay and I won’t give up. This is my daughter and we love her.”)

She is hardly the only mother of a high-profile daughter to be verbally tarred and feathered. Kathy Hilton, the mother of Paris and Nicky, and Lynne Spears, who is now estranged from Britney, have also been held publicly accountable for their daughters’ wild-child antics like homemade sex tapes and padding around public restrooms barefoot.

And though Dina Lohan told Harper’s Bazaar earlier this year, “You can’t blame parents for kids,” in the same interview she chastised Lynne Spears for not defending her daughter after Britney’s quickie first marriage fell apart.

What have Dina, Lynne and Kathy done wrong in raising their daughters? That’s what the media and bloggers want to know. Meanwhile, most of the public doesn’t even know the fathers’ names. (Michael, Jamie and Rick.)

Mother-daughter relationships have long been a topic of Hollywood and media fascination. And mothers have always been an easy target for public condemnation, said Devra Renner, an author of the book “Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most and Raise Happier Kids.”

“I think most people feel they can give a more informed opinion about someone’s parenting than about the Hollywood industrial complex,” she said. “And, of course, moms are still seen as the primary parent.”

Indeed, though statistics show that fathers are now more involved than ever in their children’s lives, the perception remains that mothers are ultimately responsible for their children’s behavior. Not to mention that experts say that since the 1980s, expectations of what a so-called “good mother” should do have grown.

“We have a long history in this culture of mother blame,” said Susan J. Douglas, an author of “The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How it Has Undermined Women.” In World War II, women whose sons wouldn’t fight were condemned for tying them too closely with their apron strings. A host of illnesses, including autism, were once traced to mothers, often with dubious scientific proof.

And without mother blame, where would Freud be? “An ideal was set in place by pop psychologists and Freud that the big problems in American society could be traced to excessive mothering,” said Beryl Satter, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University, Newark. “Mothers who smothered their children with affection created unstable characters,” she said, and yet mothers who were withholding were perceived to have created problems as well.

To be sure, it’s not as if some celebrity mothers haven’t brought an extra level of scrutiny upon themselves by seeking the spotlight. Ms. Hilton was the host of a reality TV show, “I Want to Be a Hilton.” Ms. Lohan, Lindsay’s mother/manager, or “momager,” is not exactly a shrinking violet when it comes to media coverage.

Most mothers don’t ask for that kind of attention. And media images of the “bad mother” serve to police all mothers, said Professor Douglas, who is the chairwoman of the department of communication studies at the University of Michigan.

By portraying Lynne Spears, Kathy Hilton and Dina Lohan, who was essentially a single mother raising four children, as bad mothers, “we get these class stereotypes about bad mothering that are meant to flatter middle-class mothers,” she added. “What Britney Spears evokes is this whole down-market, ‘trailer trash’ upbringing. Paris evokes the opposite — very rich parents who spoil their kids rotten and set no boundaries.” It’s as if these “bad mothers” couldn’t achieve the balance that middle-class motherhood prizes. They did everything for their children — but maybe too much. They became their friends — but maybe to an extreme.

Worse, perhaps, is that they refuse to apologize for their unconventional behavior. Ms. Lohan freely admits to partying with Lindsay at clubs when her daughter wasn’t old enough to drink.

No one is saying that parents are blameless when it comes to their children’s risky behavior. “Parents are the strongest influence, positively or negatively, in decisions by a young person to engage in drinking, smoking or drug use,” said Susan Foster, the director of policy research and analysis at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

But the amount of derision directed at mothers seems out of proportion.

“We still have a virgin-whore binary in American pop culture, and this governs motherhood as well,” Professor Douglas said. The same way in which girls are labeled either good or bad, so are mothers. The same level of censure does not seem to apply to sons, whose risky behavior is often seen as merely a rite of passage.

Professor Douglas thinks the reproach directed at some celebrities’ mothers speaks to the particular kinds of lessons that mothers are supposed to teach their daughters — lessons Lindsay, Britney and Paris seem not to have learned. “It’s supposed to be a mother’s job to train her daughter into how to domesticate her various desires,” she said. “If we see a young woman who hasn’t done that, the mother has failed her tutorial.”

Part of the anger toward seemingly bad mothers may be an outgrowth of the fact that the mother-daughter tie is the strongest of all intergenerational relationships, said Karen L. Fingerman, an associate professor of child development and family studies at Purdue, noting that research shows that this is because both parties are women, and women are the ones who are taught to nurture relationships.

Mothers are now seen as responsible for their children well into adulthood, Professor Fingerman said. Ms. Lohan’s detractors are “not just saying that the mother screwed her up but that the mother should still be there — that’s a societal shift,” she said.

From the mid 19th century until the 1920s, Professor Satter noted, middle-class mothers were held up as some kind of ideal, one that working-class mothers were supposed to aspire to. But she noted that many women realized this wasn’t a good strategy. “The more politically minded and savvy understood that blaming other women for not being good mothers was ridiculous,” she said.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Funny Internet Observation

Stumbled upon this while surfing mybloglog, and chuckled a bit. There's some truth to it, you know.

Online Dating with MySpace and Facebook

I know somebody who's a total Mac fan who stopped dating a PC advocate because they just kept arguing about processors and programs. And as for people who keep inviting me to Facebook, sorry, it just won't work out. Facebook is banned at my office.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Musings on Rugby

Watched the Tri-Nations Rugby Final yesterday between the All Blacks vs the Wallabies. A friend asked who I was rooting for and I didn't answer. They were sort of expecting that since they support the Kiwis, I should as well. Hmmm. This reminds me of La Salle vs Ateneo rivalries where I had to cheer for La Salle because of "affinities".

In the first place, I'm not even a Rugby fanatic. I followed the Football (soccer) World Cup last year and stayed up until dawn. And even then I had no allegiance to any team. Rugby is a sport I just started to understand and now appreciate more than Football. Maybe because I find Football players faking injuries quite wimpy. Whereas Rugby players would have blood gushing about and would still keep on playing. Anyway...

In a semi-detached fashion, i just watched and considered the whole atmosphere of the game. The weather was a nasty downpour of rain that made the ball and the players skid more than usual. The All Blacks were playing on home soil, and the extensive amount of cheering must have fed their adrenalin. And in desperation, the players would usually commit errors and be confused when they have the ball. They usually couldn't decide whether to kick it, pass it on (sometimes they just throw it to no one in particular) or just run with the ball and get painfully tackled. The referee was also consistently fair, though he threw more penalty kicks in the All-Blacks favor. And these were factors why the Wallabies lost.

Both teams were pretty good, though I would think the Aussies had more solid defense. I also was admiring the consistent performance of the Wallabies' Gregan and the leadership of Mortlock rather than the All Blacks' McCaw. The All Blacks were good but they were also lucky. So in an existential sort of way, I'd say the stars just aligned for the All-Blacks.

Life is like that... You can always try to be the best you can be, but sometimes life won't pull enough aces for you. But you get up, ignore the pain, and ready yourself for another tackle.

More Tri-Nations Photos and news at PLANET RUGBY

Friday, July 20, 2007

Woes of a Clinically-Depressed Pinay

This piece of news has been disturbing me a bit. Here's an excerpt:

By: Pia Lee-Brago, Mayen Jaymalin, Philippine Star: 7/18/2007

A mentally unstable Filipina is now under the custody of the Italian police for allegedly killing her husband and son and seriously injuring her daughter, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed yesterday.

The DFA received the report about the arrest of Teresita Aguila Lleva after she reportedly slit the throats of her husband Wilson and 10-year-old son Brian on Friday while they were sleeping, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Esteban Conejos said. Lleva also tried to slash the throat of her eight-year-old daughter Bea, but the child fought back, sustaining wounds on her throat and hands.

The daughter was rushed to hospital for treatment and is still in the intensive care unit, although Conejos said reports reaching the DFA showed that the girl is out of danger.

Information gathered from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) revealed Lleva had a history of emotional and mental problems since last year when she attempted twice to commit suicide by slashing her wrist then taking an overdose of undetermined drugs.

Lleva underwent a series of psychiatric examinations in Milan last year, and in October went back to her hometown in Batangas where she continued her medication.

In February, Lleva returned to Milan. Two months after, she started acting strangely, refusing to live in the town of Melegnano where her husband worked as a warehouse caretaker. Lleva reportedly urged her husband to move out of their place, but he refused because doing so would be costly for them.

Her unfulfilled desire to transfer residence reportedly triggered her depression.

I know how it feels to be miserable and not knowing how to snap out of it. Short of like having J.K. Rowling's Dementors suck out all the happy thoughts from you, it takes a lot of struggling. The misery seems so great, and the issues go into a loop again and again and again. In the same light Teresita must have felt trapped in her situation that she simply lost it. Nalokah in every sense of the word.

Speaking for myself, all one needs is to be out of the situation, find a change of scenery and think of the issues from a different perspective. Sure, I snapped out of it by over-swiping my credit cards, but at least I didn't do any bodily harm to myself or anyone. Anyway, if you feel emotionally burdened, here are a few (personal) pointers on how to deal with it:

- It's easier to deal with issues if you have a grip on them. Be systematic. Know why you're sad, and devise of ways to deal with your issues.

- talk about what ails you. Take up kickboxing or any sport that releases aggression. Travel somewhere and displace yourself, if that's not possible, just go to the next room. Take a walk. Write a blog (hmm, that's familiar)

- stop thinking about what other people might say or think, and focus on yourself. There's no point in putting up a front when your emotions feel like they just came from an Osterizer.

- Alcoholics, drug dependents and serial credit card swipers are never truly out of their misery. In fact, they get even more deeply entrenched into already miserable lives.

- If talking to a psychologist is too clinical for you, try seeking a life coach or a counselor.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


DOWNSIDE: I look like a nerd in glasses. I look like a librarian or a school marm that time forgot. But I have to wear them for my astigmatism and for UV protection.

UPSIDE: Nobody does those annoying wolf whistles anymore. The construction workers have ignored me. Ha ha! Plus, nobody sees my eyebags.

Beauty and the Bully

Last night I asked her, "how was your day?" She looked at me, shrugged and said it was ok, just an ordinary day. We then did the mommy-daughter bonding thing, took her scooter around Salcedo park and I bought Hi-protein bread at Delifrance. We laughed at the cute Korean kids who raced their neon scooters around, then we headed back to the flat. Had dinner and then I gave her a bath. While scrubbing her back, I told her how much I love her and how precious she is to me.

She then had this pensive look. And then she said "I want to tell you something. But please don't be mad".

As every mother would know, a line like that braces you for something. But I put my protective gear down and put on a friendlier face. She then proceeded to tell me that she saw an old bus mate at school, one that used to bully her and she thought she'd never see much of again.

Last year, she must have wanted not to add to the domestic problems (the separation) and decided to keep the bullying all to herself. This Bully would put trash on her bus seat and that would force to her to stand up the whole ride from school to the house. When she told me this last year, I fumed and cried. She was only a 1st grader, 6 years old, and the bully was on the 5th grade, She's technically still a baby compared to him. I ranted about how rude this kid was and how inconsiderate and I would talk to his parents, etc etc. But Sandra just said "It's ok Mommy. I'm on a different school bus now. I won't see him again. Besides, I don't even know his name."

"Anyway, so what happened today?" I asked.
"I saw him again, he was with his friends" she then reminded me "Mommy, don't be mad, ha?"
I gave a non-committal shrug hoping for all the patience in the world to be bestowed upon me.
And then she said the Bully saw her and yelled "Hey, let's go kick her bag!" So they kicked her pink stroller around like some football in the school corridor. Her stuff got sprawled on the floor, and they laughed as she picked everything up.
"So what did you do when they did that?" I asked, my voice trembling.
"I said something bad." and then tears fell from her beautiful eyes "I said, YOU'RE A JERK! GO TO HELL" and then she sobbed in my arms. "please mommy, I didn't mean to say something bad, I'm sorry..."

The first thought in my mind was how much of a good person Sandra is. That she actually feels guilt for cursing someone who wronged her. The second thought was motherly rage. No one has the right to do this, especially to a much younger child. But it wasn't the proper time to be mad. I first have to be my child's rock. So while holding her close I just said "Honey, we have to be smart about this. So no tears. Don't get emotional. When he does it again, let him kick your bag as long as he wants to. Make sure other kids witness him do this, But meanwhile, find a way to get his name -- on his name tag, on his school stuff, just get his name. Then Mommy will take care of the rest."

I cuddled her to sleep. I prayed for strength. Thanked my lucky stars for having a wonderful daughter. It broke my heart that she has a cruel world to face. But it makes me feel good that even mean people couldn't change her.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Inspiration from Frank Hoefsmit

Several years ago, I took photography classes at The Alcove: Portraiture, Figure Lighting (nudes) and Black and White Film Photography and Developing. I worked with both film and digital, but fell in love with film more. During that time, I was trying to make sense of the loneliness and the invalidation in my life. It seems poetic now, but it was an act of desperation then. I needed to be passionate about something... anything. And I seemed to have discovered it in photography and film developing. But as love affairs go, my love (for photography) was met with foolish notions and a lot of insecurities. I felt inadequate next to the geeks with the fancy digicams and their $3,000 lenses. As I balanced never-ending working weekends, or weekends doing nothing but chores or family obligations, I was envious with the people who actually had the time to pursue their passions. So in time, my love for photography died like a teen summer infatuation. But the desire for validation and soul expansion lived on.

Last thursday, I got a text from Frank. One of those marketing textblasts for an upcoming Photo Exhibit. It was held at the Piedra Bar at the Fort and was a brand-sponsored party by San Miguel along with two other fashion photographers whose names escape me right now. Anyway, though Frank had his fashion stuff being flashed onscreen, he also had his "Silence" collection on the walls of the bar. "Silence" is a series of abstract photography artwork that was part of his early works. When I say early, I mean his 2005 collection. I'm not sure what to make of abstract work, because despite of my being illogical at times, surrealism confuses me. There is one photo I liked though. It was a pink picture of a tree with digitally streaked lines. And I don't even know why I liked it (see, abstract actually requires more thought! ha ha). Okay, maybe I just liked pink.

Anyway, what's the significance of Frank and his work in all of my ramblings? I guess the point is, he was my classmate. We tinkered with cameras at the same time, made the same mistakes, felt our way through photography and fell in love with it along the way. But his love affair went on a different path from mine. He's now got photography exhibits as well as a newfound reputation as a hot fashion photographer. Me? All I got was 3rd place for one photo competition (architecture) and a lot of regrets for never finding the time nor the resources to pursue it. Romance cannot survive without finance, so my romantic inclinations with the camera had to die.

Frank is a Belgian expat who has his own software business here and services a lot of international clients. When I met him that night, in the middle of hugs and pointing out his cute significant other, he told me he plans to sell the company and pursue photography full time. I pondered over the pay cut he must be willing to face considering photographers in Manila (with the exception of advertising photographers) are grossly underpaid. But he looked good. He grinned the whole night, obviously in love --with someone and the life he's leading. He looked happy with the choices he's made to get where he is. And I thought, how inspiring! Life should be like that. To be lived with the pursuit of passion. I feel so happy for him, and I beamed with pride by saying "Frank Hoefsmit? I know the guy. He was my classmate!"

For more of his works, please visit
Frank's website!

Lunch at Verbena in Tagaytay

It's not often that I make my way out of Makati, much more out of town. So I do consider it a blessing that I found the time, energy and wonderful company to make it to Tagaytay this Saturday. Discovery Suites in Tagaytay is a wonderful, country-style inn with a lot of warmth of character. I've heard about Verbena Restaurant which had great reviews as well. And that was the reason I was on this road trip, to actually squeeze this restaurant in the itinerary.

When I look back at my once-married life, I get nostalgic about attending the Cheese Club at Manila Polo Club. My ex loved cheese and I guess he opened my eyes to it as well. But now that's a distant memory, and so is cheese. Sure, I can have the uninspired slices from Landmark supermarket or order fried mozarella at any bistro. But that would be eating cheese for the sake of it. Much as I love cheese by itself, I would sit upright for cheese that's prepared with a little more imagination. And that is why this Organic Mozarella Cheese Pot at Verbena melted my heart. On top, your basic mozarella. But under it hid a delightful Tomato Sugo with just a hint of spice. If I weren't with a companion, I would order three of these and not have an entree at all. It came with focacia that lets you dip in it fondue-style. I only touched a slice of that because I wanted this baby by itself. Yes, the cheese monster in me lives. Oh, I also liked the thoughtfulness of this being kept warm with flammable gel instead of the usual denatured alcohol. The flame was practically smokeless and odorless. So at least i got that played-with-fondue feeling without smelling like i played with kerosene.

For the Entree... The problem about rarely going out is that once I do, I hunger for everything. As in, everything on the menu. But since I'd rather keep my waistline as it is (actually, I'd rather have it smaller but that's a diferent issue) we settled for a bit of everything. And this is the phonepic that doesn't do justice for Verbena's Sampler Plate. At Php650, it's quite a good portion plus it has three of Verbena's best sellers: BBQ Lamb baby back ribs with polenta fries (there's two pcs of them there), the Salmon Fillet with Arugula-mushroom salad, and Short Ribs Goulash with Potato puree. Of the three, I liked Salmon the most (growing up in a Seafood loving family, I was trained not to prefer meat so my prefernce may not be fair). The goulash is very tender and the ribs just ok. The revelation here is the arugula mushroom salad tucked under the salmon which had a nice zing. That deserved special mention because I despise arugula, yet managed to eat this one. Yes, there's hope for green vegetables with a weird bitter aftertaste.

All in all, the visit to this restaurant is delightful, and I would suggest it to anyone driving up to Tagaytay. And much as I hate ending this like some stupid press release, I might as well put down the link:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stumbling Upon a Secret

Had a tiring day and arrived home late. My little girl is fast asleep, with her books and notes sprawled on the bed. She must've been studying for her exams (and for a 2nd grader, she seems to be getting a lot). I was fixing her things when I saw this.

It was a homework for her Christian Living subject, that asked to make a letter to somebody. She never showed me the letter. Regardless of its brief thought, I can feel it was all heart as I was reading it.

How wonderful it is to be loved. :-)