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Showing posts from July, 2014

Dinner at the VASK dining room

There are wishes that take a long time to come true, and then there are those that happen within minutes! For instance, I wish I could try out VASK and see if it's a restaurant I can bring my culture-buff parents over and if it could a pit stop for me and the museum-hoppers during our next history and culture adventure. 
Right after Kulinarya, Tita Nollie, Seher, and I ended up lounging at Gallery Vask!

Imagine overlooking Bonifacio Global City and sipping red wine while surrounded by art pieces and illuminated by the glow of yellow light bulbs hanging from inverted white umbrellas. I've never been to a dining room that doubles as a gallery for modern art before. And I am not counting La Cocina de Tita Moning because, for me, eating there is like dining and breathing the old world charm of Manila... so more of a museum feel.

However, for dinner, we wanted to try out the Vask dining room to check out Spanish cuisine. It's funny, really, because the three of us all had food…

Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Oh my Darling, oh my Darling,
Oh my Darling, Clementine.
You were lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.
This movie was more serious than I had expected. And more complicated. The narrative was arranged in a non-linear fashion, which made me so confused. Apparently, the main story the audience sees is actually narrated in reverse chronology. For some reason, I thought of Rashomon, The Prestige, and Vantage Point while watching the movie because of the non-chronological storytelling style.

The two protagonists met in a train, not knowing that they'd met previously. In fact, they were in a relationship until the girl had her memory erased because she wasn't happy with the guy anymore. The guy was so broken-hearted that he had his memory erased too. The audience took a journey with him, sorting through his memories of the relationship as each one got erased while he was sleeping.

The side stories, protrayed by a star-studded cast, were interesting as well... but not enou…

Review: Transcendence (2014)

The world, as we know it, had ended. There was no electricity and no internet. Basically, it looked like the post-computer age... The ultimate nightmare for millennials whose electronics are always at arms' reach. No, it wasn't the aftermath of Typhoon Rammasun. It was the opening scene of the movie, Transcendence
Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, and Rebecca Hall played a team of scientists who wanted to develop a computer with artificial intelligence. Depp's character believed that, at some point, artificial intelligence would have achieved "transcendence", that state in which it would be much better than human intelligence. However, before he had achieved transcendence, Depp's character was injured by people against the technology... He only had a few weeks to live and was convinced by Hall's character to use it to upload his mind into a computer. Everything went downhill after that.
I was willing to suspend disbelief as I watched the movie because the tec…

Review: 47 Ronin (2013)

47 Ronin is the story of samurai who became leaderless (ronin) after their master was obliged to kill himself honorably in a ritual (seppuku) after he had physically attacked an important official. The ronin planned to avenge their master's disgrace and were successful in killing the man who had shamed their master.  After taking revenge, the ronin surrendered to the shogunate authorities, who decided that the ronin were following bushido, the samurai military code. Instead of being executed as criminals, the ronin (restored as samurai) were allowed to perform seppuku.
The theme was very powerful and dramatic. Although I am not, in any way, a fan of ritual suicide because of its violence (or of any other form of suicide), I could see the beauty in having an honorable death: dying on one's own terms, with head held high. There's no shame, within its cultural context, of ending one's life this way. In fact, it could appear as a brave way to go.
However, the movie, I feel…

Review: Inception (2010) again

I know... I've watched Inception several times already since watching it on the big screen. However, my latest viewing of it, which was sometime earlier this month, was quite different. I was with friends who have never seen it and I was answering their questions (attempting, more like it) about the movie's premise on dreaming within a dream within a dream and its iconic soundtrack as we went along... and then I did a double take. It may have taken years before I've realized this but I gasped when I did:
The structure of the movie was like a deep dive into Dante Alighieri's Inferno! I am easily frightened by his descriptions (and the illustrations in the book I borrowed from the library) so I haven't been able to progress to Purgatorio and Paradiso. Anyway, my Eureka! moment happened when my friends were asking for a recap on the different dream levels and I realized that these were akin to Dante's Nine Circles of Hell. In the movie, however, there were only t…

I attended Kulinarya at Gallery VASK

A few weeks ago, Chefs Chele, Julieta, and Gaita made me starstruck on a Friday because the three culinary greats were at the International Rice Research Institute. Talking animatedly about locally grown rice with members of the Heirloom Rice Project. Including me in the discussion!
I still continue to tell of my experience with touring them and letting famous chefs eat rice in the Grain Quality and Nutrition Center meeting room when I received a personal invitation from Chele to drop by Gallery VASK to listen in on a lecture called Kulinarya that he and Julieta were conducting. One time only. July 25th. It promised to be an experience for the palate... food sensory overload in its gastronomic glory. Of course, I was in! 

I was so happy that I didn't have to troop to Bonifacio Global City alone. Nollie (the leader in the Heirloom Rice Project) and Seher, Matty's graduate student, went too. Incubus' lyrics were playing in my head as I wish the others were here with us.

One t…

Thank God for life's simple joys!

Rammasun's coming and going is as good a time as any to thank God (or whatever you call the Higher Being, if you believe in one... or in several) for life's simple joys. I realize that highlighting them right now is my coping mechanism to what I had expected to be a series of difficult days:  I am not used to see my creature comforts being stripped down to bear necessities. No electricity. No water. No wind (yes, I do miss the air movement... Stuffy inside the house). No telly (oh no!!).
No, this is not a countdown of 100 happy days or 365 days of blessings or something. So don't expect hashtags.
Here we go...
Thank you, God, for good Samaritans! A metal sheet of my house's roof was torn off by the strong winds of the typhoon. Two guys in the village who didn't have anything to do back home were walking by and volunteered to fix the roof before rain started falling again. They also took care of cleaning the backyard. I did give them some money because the clean-up …

Rammasun, the typhoon

Rammasun, also known in the Philippines as Glenda, is the first typhoon to barrel towards Manila this year. With winds blowing at around 200 kph, it promised to wreak havoc to everything in its path. However, it dwarved in intensity when compared to 2013's Haiyan (typhoon Yolanda), the strongest typhoon to ever hit land anywhere in recorded history... And of all places, it landed in the Philippines.
While my neighbors were sleeplessly waiting for Rammasun's arrival in the neighborhood, I fell asleep! I mean, a typhoon was coming... There's nothing I could do about it... Might as well take some rest and then deal with whatever came after in the morning. And so despite the howling winds, noisy chimes, and rustling leaves, I slept. Extremely confident or stupid, take your pick.
When daylight filled the house, it was time to assess the damage. Part of the house's roof has been blown off by the typhoon!! This is the very first time that a typhoon has done that to my house …

Starstruck Friday with chefs

Margarita Fores. Jose Luis Gonzalez. Julieta Caruso.

Wow! One of the best ways to end the week is to talk food with chefs. And in this case, I was amid three famous chefs, and I just can't believe that I'd beeen speaking with these people! I best know Fores for Cibo, one of the restaurants I frequent when I'm in the mood for pasta in Makati. And she's also behind Cafe Bola, where cousins, nephews, and I used to eat (again in Makati) before we watched a World Cup match in one of the sports bars many years ago. Gonzalez, on the other hand, is the owner of Vask, a Spanish restaurant at the Fort... a restaurant that I will try out at some stage because I haven't eaten in a resto where the chefs practice molecular gastronomy. Then there's Caruso, the former head chef of Mugaritz, just one of the best restaurants in the world.
Who wouldn't be starstruck, right?
But I couldn't go all fan girl mode because they dropped by IRRI to discuss rice. I had to keep my …

IRRI at the World Economic Forum

Dr Robert Zeigler, the Director General of the International Rice Research Institute was at the World Economic Forum in May! 
I took a vacation from my vacation, barely a week in, to watch the discussion on Agricultural Transformation in East Asia as it was being streamed live. Weird that I was watching online because Channel NewsAsia, the media partner of the World Economic Forum, wasn't airing the discussion on the telly. 

I'm sharing the video in this post. It highlights what it would take to feed East Asia in the future.

Review: Mad for Pizza

Since I was in Loyola Heights on Saturday afternoon and Noan was not on hospital duty, she drove (yes she did!) us to Tomas Morato for some Mad for Pizza goodness. 
The restaurant does not have the metal, urban, grunge look that I have come to expect after eating in Yellow Cab and in Project Pie. It does not have the warm, woodsy, dinner feel of Shakey's or Pizza Hut, either. Instead, Mad for Pizza has a bright and kid-friendly vibe... a good place to eat with the family in tow. It also really helped that the waiters were friendly and helpful for the obvious first-timer in the restaurant (that's me). 
The food... well, it all depends on what people chose as toppings for their pizza, isn't it? Since Noan gave me free rein over the pizza (with the only request of adding feta cheese), I ended up concocting a healthy version with zucchini, artichoke, mushrooms, tomatoes, capers, green and black olives, mozzarella, cheddar, mini clams, and beef steak. Hehehe. It tastes good! B…

I'm back!

So, five weeks after hitting the stop button, looks like I'm back in the play... at least for the next six months. My schedule is more complicated these days because of a second assignment but good thing I'm spending most of the time with the GQNC barkada. :)
And what a way to start my second week back: I celebrated my birthday with them the same way I've been celebrating my birthday in the lab... with pizza. This year, we snacked on Dear Darla and tribeca mushroom pizza. 

Six months. That time will fly so fast. I don't know what will happen after that but I know that everything will work out as it should be. For the best.

ending my birthday celebration week with another football match

Since it's FIFA World Cup season, it's nice to end my birthday celebration week with another round of football watching in Makati. This time, I was back at the Burger Bar with Val but Nikos and Matty were not there; instead, we watched with Anna, Kor, and Zia. 
This was the quarter-final match between Belgium and Argentina. We were all rooting for Belgium this time because (1) we were supporting Matty, who, in turn, was supporting his Belgian Red Devils by watching the match in a sari-sari store in Batangas; (2) the girls liked watching the handsome Belgian football players play (and we were specially looking out for Mertens and Witsel, among others); and (3) we were rooting for the underdog in this match (Argentina is ranked 5th while Belgium is 11th).
What I found funny while watching this match was that Anna, Kor, and I were more emotionally invested in it while Val and Zia were barely showing their excitement. I think the two guys where analyzing the match more than we di…

flowers and sushi rolls on my birthday

And my birthday finally came! It proved to be an incredibly long day. After this, I could say that June 21 was definitely NOT my longest day for 2014. My birthday was, so far. The previous day ended at 2:30am the following day as I was juggling prepping a slide deck, talking with my brother and thanking friends who greeted me at the stroke of midnight online, and watching a replay of one of the football matches.
Just a look at my to-do list told me that this was going to be a tiring and stressful day for me. Could I crawl back into bed instead?
Four hours of driving, an hour-and-a-half of lecture, an hour of waiting, and another four hours of mental work later, it was time to drop what I was doing and to start celebrating my birthday! And I was not alone. Kor, Matty, Joann, and Maya went with me to Nuvali for dinner and coffee. They're the ones that gifted me with the flowers too. And no, wakeboarding wasn't in the plans this time.

Honestly, I enjoy looking at the colourful…

a spoonful of cake on my third pre-birthday night out

Yes, this may not be a milestone birthday but I thought it would be great to celebrate it nonetheless. And what better way to celebrate it than being constantly surrounded by friends, right? I had a solo birthday night out one year and I can say that it was one of the sadder birthdays for me. Ever. But the worst one was the year I actually forgot that it was my birthday... and someone had to remind me about it.
On Tuesday night, I was looking for people to have dinner with because I didn't want to eat dinner alone during my birthday week. Val called up, saying that I could join them if I hadn't eaten yet. And so I ended up at the tail-end of a three-car convoy from Los Banos to Halaan Restaurant in Calamba. Just like on Val's birthday (which we had spent wake boarding in Nuvali), I felt like Charlize Theron's character in The Italian Job because I was driving in a convoy... except that this trip wasn't at high speed and we weren't using Mini Coopers.…

Happy birthday, Daddy!

Daddy and I have very close birthdays so we used to celebrate it on the same day. But now that we are in different continents, we no longer share birthday cakes or celebrations. It's been nine years or so since our family celebrated our birthdays together.
Since I was looking at family pictures when I was alone in the time leading up to my birthday, I might as well share one picture of my family... way back when I was still as fair and had as curly hair as a Sto Nino statue and when it was just the three of us: Mommy, Daddy, and me. That small span of time when I was an only child and was too young to appreciate what that meant. 
Happy birthday, Daddy! :)