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Showing posts from May, 2014

Review: Maleficent (2014)

Royalty, nobility, the gentry, and... how quaint! Even the rabble.
I haven't been excited about seeing a movie since Johnny Depp was cast as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland! I have always imagined Angelina Jolie as the perfect actor to portray one of the baddest witches in the Disney princesses' universe... and it became true! She was nothing but excellent in the movie. In fact, all the other characters (even Sleeping Beauty herself) paled in comparison with Maleficent. She was the star of this movie, after all.
The movie is a retelling of the 1959 classic cartoon Sleeping Beauty but from Maleficent's point of view. It was an interesting take since I have never understood why King Stefan and the Queen didn't invite Maleficent to the christening of their daughter, Princess Aurora. The plot details of the live-action movie largely deviated from that of the cartoon; in the end, Maleficent was not the baddest after all. The evil stepmother in Snow White has seized th…

Starbucks with a view

To cap our Tagaytay road trip, Tita Ruby, Cindy, Crystal, and I made a stop at the city's newest Starbucks branch... my first time to visit with the sun still up in the sky. I had been here with my parents and my sister one night a few months ago and the parking lot had intimidated me because it was so steep! Anyway, lucky that I wasn't driving this time around. All I had to do was to enjoy the view while sipping my customized drink order.



This Starbucks branch really has one of the best views in the world. I couldn't agree more. :)

An enchanting afternoon at Sonya's (secret) Garden

One sunny morning, Tita Ruby had lunch with Cindy, Crystal, and me at the famous Sonya's Garden in Tagaytay City. I was enchanted because I had felt like I was entering the tropical version of Frances Hodgson Burnett's secret garden, far from the hustle and bustle of this tourist city. 
Admittedly, I've eaten at restaurants in Tagaytay City featuring better tasting food than Sonya's Garden. However, I think that the star wasn't really the food. 
It was the garden
Just imagine having an idyllic lunch amid waterfalls and fountains gurgling happily in the garden, birds chirping up in the foliage, and brightly colored flowers blooming against the greenery. 






As if those were not enough, there were souvenir shops that feature collectors' items that are reminiscent of the days gone past (aka. furniture and decorations whose styles follow don't follow modern silhouettes).


As we ended our exploration of Sonya's (secret) Garden, we met a Labrador Retriever. Fr…

Review: The Other Woman (2014)

What's with the preoccupation of television shows and movies with men having commitment issues? First, there's the soap The Legal Wife, of which I've only seen one episode of (in hospital, while visiting my grandma). And then a movie called The Other Woman started showing in cinemas.
Since it's girls' night out and the other options that night were Spiderman and Godzilla, we opted to watch The Other Woman. And that was one crazy movie to watch. Somehow, it reminded me of The First Wives Club (1996) because The Other Woman also has three women as protagonists and both movies feature one strong female character that served as the leader of the group as they took revenge on their husbands (or boyfriend, as in the case of The Other Woman).
The thing is, that's where the similarities stop. See, in The First Wives Club, the protagonists were all accomplished women (college graduates, in fact) abandoned by their husbands for one reason or another. These women took th…

Celebrating a milestone with friends

My post-doctoral fellowship ended on May 16th. Instead of closing it with a quiet evening, I decided that I wanted to celebrate it since I treat it as a milestone. It's nice too that my fellow kaladkarin friends were planning on a night out in Makati anyway so we just had to arrange the timing. :)
First stop: Bonifacio High Street Who can resist window shopping on a Friday evening, right? Especially with store displays seemingly luring people in as they walked along High Street like the mannequins in Confessions of a Shopaholic. But a store did manage to entice us from the bee line to dinner: a sports shop! Man was looking for motivation to go running again (aka toys for the running Man) and Matty was looking for dive shoes. I browsed the rash guard collection but I wasn't in the mood (or in the right attire) to try one. Sara and Hedia checked out the selection of bicycles currently on display. 
Second stop: Geisha  I absolutely love Japanese food. I'm not the type who kno…

another GQNC-centric party?!?

Well, not exactly. It's more of a thank you party dedicated to the members of the rice sensory evaluation panel who had eagerly and actively participated in rice tasting for the past two years and who had been instrumental in at least three research studies I was involved in as post-doc fellow. 

And this time, there was no rice to be had!

Many of the members of the panel are from GQNC. The ones who are from different departments were either en route to a conference the day this party was held or dropped by after this photo was taken.

last hurrah with the GQNC barkada

May 16th was my last weekday at the Grain Quality and Nutrition Center (as post-doctoral fellow). That week was such an emotionally difficult time for me because there were a lot of things to let go, to clean up, to pass on. As I was hauling my things into the car on my last day, I realized that the things I was bringing home from my entire stay in that lab could be thrown in into two 50-liter dry boxes, one 10-liter plastic bag, and a cloth shopping bag. 
However, the camaraderie that I have developed with the people in GQNC and the personal growth I've gone through with them all those years... these are intangible and priceless. They will not fit into any container.
While some good things have to end, I also recognize that it's time to move on to new adventures. But before those happened, a number of us from GQNC opted to take a few minutes of downtime in the afternoon to have group photos taken. The photo below happens to be my favorite shot because I was still included in…

Happy birthday, Val! :)

When is the best time to get someone to try something new? For some reason, the answer was during the guy's birthday. Perfect way to celebrate an important milestone, yes?
In Val's case, we ended up at the Republ1k Wake Park in Nuvali for some midweek dose of wakeboarding, read: we wanted to become confident with the wakeboard with the bindings, not the beginners' ones, in the water... albeit the use of overhead cables. Val, on the other hand, wanted to try this sport out.
It was a fun night, with Zia being the most adventurous of the lot. We were able to get some practice time in what I tagged as the children's pool. This, of course, was in preparation for the open seas, wakeboarding behind a boat.


After wakeboarding, we were all famished. So off we went for carbo-loading, as Kor put it, at Starbucks. Since our group came in four cars (Val came later and Zia came from Manila; Matty and I drove our cars to Nuvali), I felt like I was in The Italian Job. But since I was the…

Dinner at Isdaan

I ended up eating with Val, Flaminia, Mai, and Sonya one night at Isdaan, one of the restos in Bay, Laguna. The restaurant resembles a theme park almost... It reminds me of Disneyland's Adventureland because of the tribal theme welcoming us at the entrance and the presence of statues that appear to be adopted from various tourist spots in Asia.
We toured the place first before finding a spot to have dinner, which was unfortunate. Most of the tables that Val pointed as having great views of the restaurant were closed off to diners due to the late hour. Also, the servers' energies were all flagging. They made several mistakes during the dinner service and looked like they didn't want to do anything but to rest or go home. 
Sonya and Flaminia had a tough time with the food because the vegetables served were not up to their standards: adobong kangkong had pork in it, 'vegetarian' dishes had fish paste mixed with them and there's no on-the-side option (according to…

a morning in Sabrina's Kitchen

I love watching cooking shows. My Sunday mornings back in the day were dedicated to watching the Chinese lady cook with her wok on RPN-9. I had no idea what was going on because she spoke only in Chinese and the show had Chinese subtitles! I also looked out for the weekly episodes of "Wok With Yan" that used to air right before "MacGyver", still on RPN-9. On the local front, I am always looking forward to Sharwin Tee's "Curiosity Got the Chef" because of the food and the cool and colorful gadgets (just can't get enough of that red fridge!).
And then there's Sabrina's Kitchen. I watch it because she makes cooking look easy for people who are clueless in the kitchen (like me before I went to culinary school!). Sabrina Artadi makes cooking and hosting a meal for friends look fun too! Her show's vibe, for me, is a mix of Nigella Bites (Nigella Lawson), The Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten), and Everyday Italian (Giada De Laurentiis). Very hom…

zumba!!

Mai invited me to join the weekday Zumba classes she attends. Intrigued at what Zumba really is like, I took the plunge on Monday despite the sore muscles I had gained during my attempts at wakeboarding. 
Mai was right, Zumba classes are 60-minute loads of fun! I felt like I was back to street jazz classes because some of the steps were similar. My first class reminded me of cheerdancerehearsals I had participated in many years ago. And there were elements of ballroom dancing that brought back memories of high school PE.
Before I get so excited with this new fitness regimen, I have to remember to take care of my injured knee and foot. I wouldn't want to land back in hospital because of my attempt to stay fit and healthy. That would be ironic multiplied by three. Therefore, I should remember to do this high-impact exercise in moderation... if I'll remember at all.

behind-the-scenes of the first lunch I cooked for friends.

Several weeksago...

I was assigned to bring in picnic food. Because cooking is a hobby of mine, Matty was imagining that I'd bring something really nice. Alas, it was short notice and I was only able to bring donuts. Sorry! Anyway, I told him that it takes around five hours for me to prep a picnic meal that would pass his no-adobo-no-sinigang specifications and does not involve sandwiches. The five-hour period is from shopping to mise-en-place to cooking to cooling the food down to packing the food and to cleaning up the kitchen. So next time I'd be assigned to bring in the food, I should be told a day in advance... Or an evening in advance.
Last Thursday...
It was a holiday and there was nothing for me to do at home. I wanted to try baking chocolate crinkles but I didn't have the right chocolate. I chanced upon Santi's when I drove to Sta Rosa and it had just what I was looking for: discs of chocolate milk couverture! That made me so happy that when I got home, I started…

on Caliraya Lake

Yey, my wish of being on Lake Caliraya became true! The added bonus: it was a beautiful day; perfect for taking lots of landscape photos. The challenge:  My DSLR is NOT waterproof or protected in any manner against the water. I was sitting on the bow (front) of the boat, which has a seat facing the stern (back). This meant that I had to be a bit of a contortionist to get the right and stable position for taking photos.  The ride was bumpy, leading to excess camera shake, a lot of spray, and a lot of missed shots. 
These issues really didn't matter because I ended up with a great view of the lake (at boat level) and some of my photos turned out pretty well. The lake was just beautiful.











Getting dunked, later, into the lake several times wasn't in the plan but that was part of the fun as well.

Watersports 101

This is me, channeling my inner Po. Yes, there is a level zero, Master Shifu.

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Can you swim well?
I can swim to survive on the deep end but not to compete at any level. 

Are you sporty?
I run at a slow pace. Does that count?

Have you used skateboards or have you done sports that involve gliding?
No. I used to rollerblade and I've been on the ice skating rink a few times. Never on a surfboard, a wakeboard, or a skateboard.

Are you regular or goofy?
I foresee being pushed a fourth time to establish whether I'm regular or goofy.

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I was with friends at the Caliraya Lake to learn how to wakeboard from Master Shifu himself, Matty.  After being giving instructions on how to get our feet into the wakeboard's shoes and then to stand on the board while in the water (many of which, I realize, depends on gut feel... just like riding a bike), we were sent into the water one at a time.
I was not successful on this first attempt because I kept doing something wrong as I started standing o…

The Black Pig

Since my mom and my dad visit me and my sister every other year, we siblings have a year to try out different restaurant where we could bring them when they're in town. One of my most recent finds (thank you, email thread!) is The Black Pig Charcuterie, Bar, and Restaurant. It's in Alabang, close to home, for a change!
I was alone for dinner at The Black Pig, one Saturday evening, so I ended up at the bar, people-watching while waiting for my food. The (first and) last time I had eaten on the bar was when Marion and Patrice brought me to a tapas bar in Sydney about nine years ago. Anyway, at The Black Pig, the advantage of my perch was that I could talk with the person behind the bar... And he turned out to be Anton Garriz, one of the owners! I also got to chat with Steve MacDonald, also one of the owners, about the restaurant soon after. Funny that I've gotten the nerve to introduce myself to these business people ever since I finished culinary school. Before, I'd ju…