Monday, December 31, 2012

the sights at the Royal View Seafood Restaurant

To celebrate Ate Grace's and Kuya Nat's good news (they're going to have a baby!), Tita Ising brought Anna and me out to dinner at the Royal View Seafood Restaurant at the Mall of Asia.

The restaurant reminded me of the restaurant where Ate Tin hosted my graduation party in Brisbane three years ago. There were live seafood swimming in tanks, yellow lights glowing overhead, mirrors reflecting the yummy food... Royal View Seafood Restaurant is one swanky eating place!

Tita Ising bought so much food, all of them delicious, that I had a difficult time walking and breathing after dinner. What an opportunity to watch "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", right? I burped my way through the first half of the movie. By the time the movie had ended, I still did not have room for dessert. The following day, my stomach still felt full!!

Thank you, Tita Ising, for the delicious dinner!

LOTR: The Two Towers and paradigm shifts

I write this as I watch The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on HBO...

A few years back, I was taking a series of seminars on the Purpose-Driven Life. The lecturer, Uncle Sam, was talking about paradigm shifts. These, according to Uncle Sam, are changes in the way people think.

As an example, Uncle Sam made the class watch a snippet of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (and this was when I wasn't an avid fan of the book or the novels yet): 
Frodo and Sam had employed Gollum and he was leading them to the Black Gate of Mordor.  While they were resting, Gollum was debating with his alter-ego, Smeagol, about whether "Master" Frodo should be killed to get the Ring or not.  
At the beginning of the trio's journey, Sam and Frodo saw Gollum as nothing more than a creature who they couldn't trust; but as the time went by, Frodo began to trust Gollum more and more. Frodo's turning point (his paradigm shift, as Uncle Sam pointed out) was when he saw what he could become if the Ring consumes his mind; he began to take pity of Gollum. Gollum was no longer just a guide to Mordor; he was also someone who could potentially be saved.
Since that day in the seminar, I always remember "paradigm shift" (a term introduced to me on that day) whenever the movie gets to the Frodo-and-Gollum scene. 

Yet another reason why this Lord of the Rings movie trilogy has a special place in my movie playlist. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Sisterakas (2012)

Before "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" began, trailers for entries of the 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) were shown. I noted three films that I want to see during the MMFF season. However, the first one I watched wasn't one of them. This film, which I caught in SM Sta Rosa the other day, is "Sisterakas".

"Sisterakas" is top-billed by Ai-Ai delas Alas, Vice Ganda, and Kris Aquino. It's about half-siblings who had a falling out and how they redeemed their relationship. As if the drama of sibling revenge wasn't enough, the people who worked on the story inserted subplots about competing players in the fashion industry (taking inspiration from the reputation of an infamous fashion magazine editor) and a half-baked courtship story between a younger pair of actors. Vice's cross-dressing character moved the story forward, relegating his co-actors to supporting roles. Even the Tirso Cruz III was pushed to a very minor role (and he is great at playing villains!).

Throughout the unraveling of the three stories, I couldn't help but look around at the audience who were laughing at the verbal swordplay, led by Vice Ganda. The scriptwriters took advantage of slapstick, Vice's impeccable timing... and more importantly, his signature brand of comedy to bring in the laughs. The scriptwriters also veered close to the fourth wall, by referring to the cast's product endorsements, television shows and movies, and personal lives.

For someone who isn't so keen on watching local television (except for the evening news), it's puzzling to see what's so funny. My sense of humor differed from what the target audience had. It will take a different type of comedy to get me laughing heartily, I find. I did find the wordplay assigned to Vice Ganda to be very quick-witted. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

IRRI Bowling Tournament 2012

I'm not yet allowed to play. But that doesn't mean I couldn't watch and take photos. :) IRRI held its bowling tournament last November 10 (finally!). There was some drama at the beginning of the games; however, the games began in earnest as people settled down to strike as many pins as possible. I wasn't taking a lot of photos due to bad lighting in the SU bowling lanes, so I just ended up with these...

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

On the night I couldn't breathe properly because I ate too much, Anna, Tita Ising, and I went to the SM Digital Theater at the Mall of Asia to watch "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey". I made that suggestion because (1) I am an avid fan of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, (2) I loved Peter Jackson's take on the trilogy and wanted to see his interpretation of The Hobbit, and (3) I couldn't walk because I was too full! I needed to sit down and let my stomach settle first before moving any further.

As soon as the movie began, I felt like I was back in Middle Earth. But instead of going back to the land of Mordor or to Fangorn Forest or to Rohan, I was introduced to Legolas' and Gimli's homelands: Mirkwood and Erebor... and to their kin as well. Throughout the movie, I felt at a loss because I didn't see the Nine Travelers being led by Aragorn (but mostly because I didn't see the future king of the Reunited Kingdom). I guess it will take some time to get used to the presence of Thorin and his band of dwarves in lieu of the Travelers. After all, I don't think Aragorn was already a warrior during the timeline of The Hobbit.

The movie was great! I liked the way the story began just before Bilbo's party and how Frodo's presence bridged this movie with Fellowship of the Ring. I can't wait for the next two movies!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

"I don't want to miss a thing..."

On Christmas day, I was asked twice about my experience on December 21, the last day of the world as we know it -- supposedly -- except that the world continued to move on. :) And one of the things that happened struck me as having impeccable timing...

December 21, 2012
3:00 pm (or thereabouts)

It's the last day before the Christmas vacation. With people in markedly more relaxed moods, someone started singing along to Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (I'm not sure if it's playing over the radio or was an mp3 file). Coincidentally, I had watched Armageddon earlier that week on cable and so I blurted out that the song was well-timed for the end of the world later that day.

For me, the song was perfect as it was the last day before the vacation and it was supposedly the end of the world too. Unfortunately, my statement fell flat because nobody in the group I was talking with had seen Armageddon recently and so they didn't know (or had forgotten) that "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" is part of the official soundtrack... or they didn't get the memo that the world was supposedly ending later that day.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Since the world did not end last Friday, Christmas celebration is on!

The lyrics of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has struck a chord in me, particularly the lines 
"Through the years we all will be together, if the Fates allow..."
Perhaps because it has been my Christmas wish for several years now. Maybe it's because my family has been spending Christmas Eve in opposite sides of the globe for eight years already. Or it must be because this will be the first Christmas that the paternal side of the family will not be having a potluck at Lola's house on Christmas Eve.

In any case, Christmas Eve this year will just be Anna and me. No Christmas tree (I didn't have time to put it up, sadly) BUT I did make my first pot roast... on the slow cooker... perfectly timed for Noche Buena at 10pm. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My top 8 simple joys this Christmas :)

While I may have outgrown the excitement that gift-wrapped presents used to bring, I am always thankful for blessings that come my way, no matter how small, coincidental, or unwrapped they are. My dad calls these "simple life, simple joy". And so I list them down, my version of "simple life, simple joys" this Christmas; akin to Sister Maria singing about her favorite things so she won't feel so bad.

Here's my current* Top Ten Simple Joys this Christmas:

  1. bumping into classmates fr high school at a local coffee shop & seeing that they're happy.
  2. catching up with friends who make it their business to make the world a better place to live in.
  3. driving on the road less traveled and seeing that the new route is scenic.
  4. drinking hot chocolate (soy) milkshake with peppermint syrup on a cold, windy evening.
  5. crossing yet another item off my to-do list as the holiday fast approaches. What a sense of accomplishment!
  6. after a tough day, I sit back, relax, and watch "The Muppets".
  7. having unplanned lunch with bestfriend-since-grade-school Noan.
  8. having some down time to read the newspaper while having brunch at a restaurant on a weekend.
* I aim to have 10 simple joys this Christmas season.

Friday, December 21, 2012

the world ends (again) today, they say.

The last day on Earth... supposedly (again!).

Will the interpreters of the Mayan calendar be wrong? So far, the events in 2012 (a 2009 movie, if I'm not mistaken) have not yet come to pass. 

But if the Mayan interpreters were right, what will the world look like tomorrow? And will anyone live to tell the tale?

We've got 24 hours (Philippine time) to find out.

See you on the other side.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

GQNC marks its 8th year

The Grain Quality and Nutrition Center (GQNC) at IRRI is now eight years old! 

A lot has changed since the GQNC began. The name of this organizational unit has changed several times over the years and people have come and gone. But the biggest change of all, so far, is the departure of its first head, Melissa Fitzgerald

New things are definitely in store for the GQNC as a new leader goes on board next year.

In the meantime, here's a link to GQNC's "family" photos of anniversaries or Christmases past.

Another one of those squirrel look-a-likes crossed my path

A bit over four years ago, I came across a mysterious animal -- a squirrel- or raccoon-like animal -- along Pili Drive in UP Los Banos. At that time, I had thought it to be an oddity because as far as I knew, there are no squirrels, skunks, or raccoons in the Los Banos area... but browsing the Internet proved me wrong.

Fast forward to a few days ago.

I wish I had a camera to take a photo of the animal that crossed the road!

Once again, I was driving late at night along Pili Drive. Once again, a furry, bushy tailed, dark-colored four-legged creature darted across the road and hesitated right in the middle of Pili Drive. If I were driving too fast, it would've been roadkill. The animal looked confused; it couldn't decide whether to cross the road or not. Its hesitation allowed me a closer look at the mysterious creature as I slowed to a complete stop. The animal had a grey body with slick fur (like a beaver's) while its tail was a thick furry black stretch (like a raccoon). There were no markings on its fur nor on its tail.  

Was it a beaver or a raccoon, then?

Based on the tail color and shape, I'd think it wasn't any of the two possibilities. Plus, a raccoon is too fat and too tall to be the mysterious animal. A beaver is of the wrong fur color too.

I related my sighting to people in the lab and they think I might have seen a civet this time around. Their idea might have some bearing. After all, scientists from the US have found evidence of two species of civets in Mount Makiling. According to references cited by Corazon Catibog-Sinha, the civet species in Mount Makiling are Paradoxurus philippinensis (palm civet) and Viverra tangalunga (Malay civet).

If the two mysterious animals were civets, I wonder what they were doing so close to human settlements. Are they pets? Have they escaped from cages? Where they looking for food? 

Maybe I'll see one of them again someday. Until then, I'll continue wondering.

That's got to be one of my more exciting evening drives in a long time!