Friday, August 31, 2018

Love By Design

I’m a sucker for romantic movies, especially those made-for-TV films that Hallmark and Lifetime churns out. They usually have these simple storylines that revolve around two people who end up falling in love and have their happily ever after. I love feel-good films like that when I’m trying to relax at home. It’s a guilty pleasure, really. 

One of these movies is the film Love by Design that stars Giulia Nahmany, David Oakes and Jane Seymour.  It’s about a young woman (Danielle, played by Nahmany) who works for a fashion magazine who, after having a falling out with her boss (Vivien, played by Seymour), ends up losing her job (and her boyfriend, who looks like he’s never up to anything good anyway).

Danielle ends up going home to Romania where she tries to figure out what to do with her life now that she has to start over. Eventually she decides to start designing clothes, which was something she wanted to do when she was younger. She also meets Adrian, a Brit who is in town for work and sparks fly between the two.

Like any movie of this genre, things can’t all be going up for Danielle. Even with the instant success of her clothing line (with the help of a friend she left behind at her previous job), Danielle discovered something about Adrian that made her think twice about their relationship. But, like any feel-good film, things work out in the end and Danielle and Adrian end up having a grand gesture moment at Fashion Week and the live happily ever after.




OK I have to admit that the reason I watched this movie was because it featured David Oakes. I am a big fan of the guy and his work on shows like The Borgias and The White Queen. He usually portrays the bad guy so I was excited to see him as a romantic lead for a change. It works! I wish I could see him in more good guy and romantic lead roles in the future.

Another plus for me about this film is that the female lead is not your usual skinny girl. She’s a girl with curves! It’s nice to see that there are movies that believe they can have a good movie even if their female lead isn’t built like a Victoria’s Secret model.  Aside from that, I liked that while this was partly a love story, it was more about the journey of the lead character into discovering who she was, what she wanted to do with her life and embracing her roots. It was a movie about self-discovery, it just so happened that she fell in love along the way too.

It was a little disappointing that Jane Seymour didn’t have much to do in the movie but be the villain (of sorts), but she did make her presence felt in her bit of a Miranda Priestly-ish role. She will always be Elise from Somewhere in Time to me, one of the most beautiful ladies I’ve seen on film!

If you're into feel-good movies like me with a little romance on the side, I think you'd enjoy this film. Otherwise, I think you're better off looking for something else to pass your time. But if you love David Oakes like I do, this is worth the watch!!!



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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Boyzone's Farewell (?) Asian Tour - Manila

Back when I was in college, boy bands were a big thing. While I did have a love for NSYNC, the group I was a big fan of in those days was the Irish group Boyzone. I remember my planners were filled with photos of the guys and I saved up my allowance so that I could buy their CDs. I used to stay at home if I knew they had a TV appearance whenever they were in the country so I could watch them (this was a time when YouTube was not yet a thing kids). 

I always wanted to watch their shows back then, but I didn’t have any money for it and my parents weren’t willing to pay for it either. Even when they came back during the times when I was already working, I wasn’t earning enough to make it to a show, plus I now lived in the province which was too far away from the concert venues. When I found out that they would be back this year for a farewell tour, I knew that it was now or never.  I decided that I would gladly make do with the long commute (2-3 hours trip) to the venue just to see them! I bought two tickets with a credit card for the VIP seats and decided to watch their concert with my younger sister, who has proclaimed Boyzone as the music of her childhood because it was all I listened to when she was a young girl.




It was a simple show. No fancy set or costumes, just the guys and their band, with videos being played in the background. I didn’t mind at all. The simpler setup made it feel like a more personal experience for me. It was great to be around people like me who loved Boyzone in their youth and were sharing the experience with their families. I met several moms who were there with their kids, just as I was there with my younger sister. Hats off also to the supportive husbands and boyfriends who were game enough to sing and dance along during the show in support of their significant other's favorite band.

Me and My Date

I loved hearing the songs that I loved from back in the day. It took me back to my younger years and I couldn’t help but sing along with everything that they performed. It was great to finally see my favorite boys (now men, really) up close and personal. It was nice seeing them as mature men this time around. It’s like seeing old friends again after so long. I would have loved to have been able to shake their hands, but I wasn’t that close enough to the stage for that to have been possible. I bought tickets on the first day that they were released but (sadly) I couldn’t get one close enough to the stage even if I bought my tickets that first day (in the morning at that). I was panicking so much about not getting close enough seats to be honest because this was my last chance to see them live and I didn’t want to miss a thing!

My sister raved at how handsome Ronan Keating was in person, shouting out that he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen in her life (lucky lady, Storm Keating). I was reminded of my unfinished book that was inspired by some songs from their A Different Beat album. I was also surprised by how Keith Duffy seems to have become more handsome with age. We both laughed at how the boys now had "Daddy Moves" that were smaller and slower than the moves they used to make back in the day. Hey, I grew old too and they are all pretty much the same age as I am (Ronan and I were born on the same year) so I am not complaining! Aging happens! Hahaha!

I was a little frustrated at first when none of the people were standing up during the show. By the time they performed Love Me For A Reason I just had enough of it. I stood up along with a few other people and thankfully, everyone else did the same thing. It was much more fun to watch and enjoy the show at that point. I wish we could have all stood up sooner!

There were several highlights to the show. One was when they paid tribute to the late Stephen Gately, who had passed away a few years back. Another was when they brought out Christian Bautista to sing along with them for No Matter What, which was chilling because for some reason he sounded so much like Stephen while he was singing with the group.


I loved the part where they sang Father and Son. I couldn’t help but look back on the fact that they used to sing the song as young boys and now they are fathers already. Talk about full circle. I heard that Ronan brought out his youngest during the performance of that song in Singapore. That must have been a moving sight to see. 

According to the promotional material for the concert, this was to be the last one for the band as they were breaking up after releasing the latest album Thank You & Goodnight in November. However, during the concert Ronan said that they plan to be back after the album is released to promote it. Does this mean that they changed their minds? Or just that they would be back for one truly last concert? I would be watching that show too if it is going to happen!

I felt so bad that there was no meet and greet for the concert here in Manila. I would have loved the chance to meet them and take photos with them. Maybe have my books signed too (including Ronan's Life is a Rollercoaster).

I've seen photos of meet and greets in other Asian countries so it was really sad that we didn't have one here considering it is a farewell tour. I would have happily paid extra for it. I had asked the local producer, Ovation Promotions, but they said they were not advised of a meet and greet. I wonder why. I hope that they will have one next time (if there is one). I can’t really complain about the producers of the show. I’ve been to a couple of other concerts (that were not produced by Ovation) and they haven’t been as organized as this one has been. This was a well-oiled machine compared to some of the other shows I’ve been to.

It was a great show. The young girl from 25 years ago who couldn’t watch their shows is now happy. My heart is full with the music and the lovely experience that I got to share with my sister. I really hope that they can come back again next year. Hopefully by then I can sit closer to the stage!



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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Must Watch: Crazy Rich Asians

After a long wait, I finally got to watch Crazy Rich Asians over the weekend! I’ve been wanting to watch this movie since it was announced and I was actually looking forward to seeing it on the first day that it started showing in local cinemas but unfortunately, I was severely under the weather at the time and had to give it a few days before I was strong enough to get up and out of bed to watch it.




I was so happy to get into the cinema and see a lot of people already seated and waiting for the movie to start. I loved that I wasn’t the only one looking forward to watching the first Hollywood film in 25 years to have an all-Asian cast. I had been able to see The Joy Luck Club back in the day and I was so glad to again get to see a movie like it on the big screen. I hope that it doesn’t take another 25 years for a repeat --- I’ll be too old by then!

I know that it has had a lot of positive reviews from so many people in the US and while some people have been nitpicking it for not being totally representative of Asia, I don’t think that people should go there. It’s a big deal already to have a movie like this. It’s a step in the right direction. It’s a foot in the door (again) so to speak.  I think people should just enjoy it for what it is – a good rom-com movie that happens to have an all-Asian cast.

I had my hesitations with the leads as I was familiar with them in their other jobs (Fresh Off the Boat for Constance Wu and the various shows that Henry Golding has hosted in Asia through the years) and I thought I would not be able to separate them from what they had previously done but they were Rachel and Nick all the way. Michell Yeoh, as expected, was amazing as Eleanor Young. I loved how you could already tell a lot of what she wanted to say by how she looked at someone. I think that’s why people have been comparing her to Meryl Streep because she acts the same way.

I’ve read all three books of Kevin Kwan in the series and I was very excited to see everything I’ve read come to life. There were some changes to the story from book to movie, but I think that was understandable because you need to condense everything from the book into a two-hour film.

Crazy Rich Asians showed a lot of that crazy rich lifestyle that most of us can only dream about (but is apparently real for some) but it also showed a story of relationships, friendships, family and traditions. There is something that everyone can relate to.

The film was more than two hours and honestly, I wish that it lasted longer (in the DVD version, perhaps?). I wanted more of Peik Lin and Oliver (Awkwafina and Nico Santos were hilarious!). I wanted more of Astrid and her story (and yes, I wanted more of Charlie!). I can’t wait to see the next movie, even if it will probably take more than a year or so to get filmed given the schedule of Jon Chu, the director. I’m ready to wait for it, as long as it gets done!

Like most Filipinos, I also looked forward to the appearance of Kris Aquino as Princess Intan in the wedding scene. There is a different princess in the book, but I guess they changed it for this movie. Hopefully, Kris will still be the same princess who will have an important role in one of the future films.

A lot of bashers have been making fun of how big a deal Kris supposedly made by having this role, but I happen to think that even if it was a short one it had a big impact in the movie. My niece was shocked when Kris was shown on screen – not because she was surprised that Kris was there, but because she had such a different aura as Princess Intan. Even the way she spoke in perfect English was different. It was not Kris Aquino, it was Princess Intan. It led my niece to remark that this is the first time she realized that Kris is a good actress. There was no sign of the Krissy that most of her fans are familiar with. She was really the character she was playing. Kudos to her!

To sum up, I think that Crazy Rich Asians is a great movie and a must-watch. It's not just about the cultural significance of the film. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, the sights are beautiful, and the acting is on point all the time. Plus, it’s a rom-com!!! I’ve missed rom-coms! I’m so glad they’re back!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Miss Granny (A Review)

My niece and I were going to watch Crazy Rich Asians in the cinema when we discovered the time we planned to watch was already blocked off for a group of students. If we wanted to watch the movie we had to wait for three hours. We decided to watch another movie in the meantime, the Sarah Geronimo-starrer Miss Granny.




The movie is a localized version of a Korean film of the same name. The plot is the same, just made to match Filipino life. As I’m sure the official trailer of the film has already made obvious, it is about an old woman who is given a second chance at life by returning to her youth through the help of a magical photo studio. She renames herself as Audrey and attempts to start a new life.

There were a lot of funny moments in the film, most of which comes from the fact that Sarah Geronimo, who plays Audrey, is an old woman in a young woman’s body. It becomes even more complicated when she ends up singing for the band of her grandson, who cannot understand why he feels close to her (which results in more awkward and funny moments).

I felt that the movie tried to do its best in the amount of time it has been given but there were still some parts that seemed to leave me hanging and wanting more. One was related to the character of Marissa Delgado, the old lady from the senior place who always seems to mock Fely (Miss Granny/Audrey). The relationship was not developed enough for me to understand why Audrey rushed to the hospital to see her when she found out that she had a stroke. The visit to the wake where Audrey cried I understood as she was probably thinking of her own mortality but the rush to the hospital was weird for me. 

Another thing that I feel lacked any more development was the relationship that Audrey had (or, didn’t) with Lawrence (Xian Lim). The part where she decided to go and stay at his place that one night felt a little off. I don’t think it was shown enough that they were that close for her to just go and stay with him. And when she disappeared for good, I don’t think the film gave the story of his character and the relationship he had with Audrey (whatever it was) enough closure. Either that or I wanted more of Xian Lim in the movie, take and interpret that however you prefer.

It was refreshing to watch James Reid in a non-love team role as a struggling artist/songwriter. I’d like to watch him again in roles where it’s not all about the romance. More of that for him please!

Sarah Geronimo was charming and good throughout the movie. It was very funny at the start and had tearjerker scenes at the end as well. My niece tells me that’s a Korean thing, I’ll take her word on that. My favorite scenes that made me cry were when Audrey decides to sing with the band even if her grandson had an accident and was in the hospital. She wanted to sing the song her grandson wrote because she knew how important it was to him. The song fit the story well, it made me bawl out watching it. It makes the soundtrack of the film worth checking out!




Another scene that made me cry was when Noni Buencamino, who played Fely’s son, talked to Audrey at the hospital. That part where he wasn’t directly saying that he knew who she was and how he wanted her to move on with her life because he felt he didn’t deserve her and all that she did for him was so moving! I loved it!

It was so nice to be able to watch a non-heavy drama, non-romantic local movie for a change. Miss Granny is not a love story, it’s not a heavy drama or a straight-up comedy either. It’s a good balance of all of it and then some. It’s not completely perfect, but it was an entertaining movie to watch that I’d be happy to recommend. 

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Monday, August 27, 2018

BTS

Unless you live under a rock or have become a hermit, I don’t think that you wouldn’t know BTS. The Korean boy band has exploded like crazy in the past couple of years and has broken through the US and other international markets. Everyone knows them and practically everyone loves them, my niece included.

This is a group that is not a surprise hit. It’s not a group that just exploded into the scene. To give them credit, before they broke out internationally, they have been a group since 2012 and were launched in 2013. It still took the group a few years before they gained the success that they have today. I think just on that basis alone they are not a group that will just pop out and disappear again. This is a group that has paid their dues and are now being rewarded for it.

Honestly, I didn’t know who they were until my niece became obsessed with them, which led me to an online search of BTS merchandise that I could give her as a gift over the holidays. That was when I realized how popular they were: there is so much merchandise and most of them are very VERY expensive! It’s crazy!

It’s a welcome surprise to me how popular they are in the US. I was telling my niece that so many Asian (including Filipino) artists have tried to break into the US market but have not succeeded. America is a tough nut to crack for musicians, especially Asian ones. Considering that most of their songs are in Korean, I am amazed by how much they have been embraced by Americans (who most likely don’t even understand the lyrics or are in the process of learning Korean, so they can). The band has performed in a couple of awards shows and appeared on popular TV talk shows in the US and almost always to the screams of their devoted fans (who remind me of Beatle mania with how crazy they can get with their screaming). I must admit, the fans -- the BTS Army -- are a strong and loyal group!

Some may say that the band is only popular because of how powerful social media is but I beg to differ. I think they do have good music, but it was also because their management was smart enough to maximize the power of social media and use it to their advantage that they were able to break barriers and introduce themselves to the rest of the world.

I may not understand their songs because they are in Korean but even I can acknowledge that their songs are catchy and entertaining. Their music videos are usually interesting to watch too. I don’t really care much about the looks (I’ve told my niece that I think they all look pretty much alike to me) but they do have a certain style that is unique to them compared to other boy bands.



These days I enjoy listening to the new songs on their latest album (do they still call them albums these days?) where they collaborate with people like Steve Aoki (Mic Drop) and Nicki Minaj (Idol). The music videos for these two songs are amazing too. These boys can move, much to the delight of the young girls who obviously swoon over every move they make. Ah, to be young and boyband-obsessed! I’ve been there, and I understand it completely!

I hope that with the entrance of Asian artists in the US and international music scene that they can pave the way for more Asian performers to make their mark in that music scene. It would be wonderful to see how Asian singers, bands, etc. can break into this scene in the future with this band paving the way for them.

I wonder which Asian artist can break through next?


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

My Spotify Dependence

Do you still remember the days when you had tons of cassette tapes/CDs at home?

Do you remember having to sort through the hundreds of CDs, tapes and vinyl records in music stores to look for your favorite music? 

Do you remember carrying a walkman around? How about a diskman? How about those tiny mini disk players?

Do you still remember those moments when you had to record music from the radio or bought a mix CD of songs you liked?

No? I guess I must be older than you then.

People these days are lucky, it is so easy to listen to the music they want, when they want through streaming sites. There is no longer a need to buy mix CDs or download songs to save on your computer or your phone that will take up a lot of drive space. Streaming services such as Spotify now fill that need for people and for most, it’s for free.



I remember being skeptical at first about Spotify and wondering how they can have all the songs I want to hear on one site but it does do the job for me. I used to be a free member but now I have a premium/family membership that I share with my family. For a low price I can share the experience with members of my family and I think that it is worth it.

While I think that people who are not into music as much as me and my family would do with having a free account, I think that for people like me, a premium account is better because I can skip songs and I don’t have to listen to ads in between my music. I can also download songs onto my phone so I can listen to them offline. That I think is the best part!

Lately Spotify had an update that I have not been that much into. There was something different with the setup that I just do not get. It surprised me that there were songs that I saved that turned into automatic downloads even if I didn’t include them in my playlist. I just don’t get the setup as much as I used to these days. I need some time to figure it out, if I can wrap my head around the changes, that is. When I saw it on my mother’s account I decided not to update mine since I prefer the older version. It’s been a month since I saw that new update on her phone and I am still adjusing (and I am not used to) the new look on the app. My mom is actually frustrated that I haven’t been able to help her with her account because I haven’t been able to figure out how to use it on her phone yet. I’ve been so used to the old version I am so weirded out with this new one! This is so hard for me because I use the app all the time. Not being able to use the app properly scares me!

Still, Spotify is one of my favorite music streaming services and is probably one of my most used apps on my phone. I can’t imagine being without it anymore. I’ve tried other music streaming services but this is still the best one for me.

What about you? What music streaming site do you use?



Photo Source: Pixabay.com 
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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

If You Could See Me Now

Cecelia Ahern is one of my favorite writers. She has had many books that I have enjoyed reading (some of which have been turned into movies) and this book, If You Could See Me Now, is no exception.

The book takes the idea of (spoiler alert) a child’s imaginary friend and taking it a step further by asking, "What if these friends are real?"  the book, Elizabeth is an adult trying to balance all her responsibilities when she meets Ivan, who helps her navigate and see her life in a new light.

Credit: Harper Collins

I am completely spoiling the book for potential readers here but I can’t share why I love the book without giving a lot of it away. Basically, Ivan is an imaginary friend, an invisible person who only appears to a child when he or she needs help. It just so happens that the person needing help was Elizabeth and not her nephew who Ivan first showed himself to.

The sad part about the book is that as part of the rules of being an imaginary friend, they disappear from a person’s life when their problem/issue is resolved so when Elizabeth finally resolves all her personal issues, Ivan disappears. It’s not his choice, it’s a natural thing that happens when someone doesn’t need that friend anymore.I think that this part is the only thing that I didn’t like from the book. Not that it didn’t make sense, but that the lead characters, who were falling for each other, did not end up together in the end. Stories that do not end up the way I want them to can be disappointing, even if what happened was understandable.

In spite of the ending, I did enjoy reading this book because it shows a growth in both characters, both ending up better people because of their time together. The story grows on you and makes you feel for the characters in the story. It’s just sad that it had to end the way it did.

I guess Ivan could have been selfish and not helped Elizabeth so that he could be in her life forever but since he loved her, he did not do that. I also loved that line where he said that he accepted that life was about meetings and partings and that he was glad that he met her. That he wished for her all his life. That was the line that made me tear up and love the book even more, mostly because it was something I can relate to when it comes to love and not having things work out the way we wanted them to.

Back in the day there was news that the book rights was bought for adaptation to film, with Hugh Jackman to take on the role of Ivan in a musical version of the story. I think that Jackman would be too old for this now, but I hope that the movie wll still happen eventually, because this for me would make a really good movie.

If you’re not averse to non-happily ever after books, you might want to give this one a try. It’s worth the read!

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Thinking of Trying Intermittent Fasting?

As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, my doctor has told me that I need to make an effort to be healthier. I needed to lose weight if I want to be healthier. One of the things that I have attempted to do for weight loss is IF, otherwise known a Intermittent Fasting. Some people also call it the Eat Stop Eat diet.

The concept of the diet is that when you fast it helps to jump start your metabolism and helps you to burn more fat. The fast is also not that complicated: while you are not allowed to eat, you are however allowed to drink as long as it is sugar free (think tea and water or black coffee without sugar).



You can do IF two ways: the 5:2 or the 16:8. With 5:2, you basically eat normally for five days of the week but you fast during two of those seven days in the week. This means not eating for 24 hours straight for two days weekly. An example of this is if you eat Sunday to Tuesday that means that on Wednesday you stop eating at 8AM and then resume again after 8AM on Thursday. Then you do the fast again on a Friday or Saturday.

I haven’t tried 5:2 because I feel that this is something my body would not be able to handle given that I have to go 24 straight hours without food while working at the same time. It’s just not me. I would probably faint trying this! That also seems a bit too extreme if you ask me. Plus with my blood sugar issues, I could go too low because of all tha fasting. 

With the 16:8 diet, you only have to fast for 16 hours, leaving an 8 hour window to eat for the rest of the day. This means that daily I could still eat but I would stop eating at (for example) 8 PM and resume again at noon the following day.

For me the 16:8 is the more doable of the IF diets. I have tried this, starting with just a 10 hour fast then moving onto 12 then 14 then finally to the 16 hour fast. I lost 5 lbs in a week of doing this. Take note though that just because you are allowed to eat anything you want in the 8-hour window it doesn’t mean that you can go crazy with the food. In my case I still did my best to avoid food that I knew were not healthy for me. So that means nothing with too much sugar and avoiding fried and fatty food. That said, as long as you eat everything in moderaion I think you’ll be fine.

Would I recommend doing IF to anyone? Yes, I would if you can manage the schedule. I’ve stopped doing this because sometimes I go on meetings where people offer me food and it makes me feel so rude (and superficial) to refuse by saying I am on a diet. I try to fast whenever I can but I do not do it on a daily basis. Still, it is a good diet to try if you want to lose weight. I’d advise seeing a doctor first though before trying this because it has been mentioned that it can cause ketosis and there may be certain health issues that can be complicated by that.

Has anyone else tried this? Leave me a comment and share your story!



Photo Source: Pixabay.com 
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Sunday, August 19, 2018

My Gray Hair Problem

I have a problem with gray hair. I have a lot of them. A LOT. It’s not even gray to be honest. It’s white. It’s upsetting because the hairs just stand out from my actual hair color. It doesn’t look good. And I am only in my 40s!

I am aware that there are people who have gray hair at a much younger age and do not find it that big of a deal but I do. It makes me look a bit unkempt. I makes me look stressed and yes, it makes me look older. I’ve tried coloring my hair a different shade in an attempt to cover it up but it hasn’t worked. I tried a lighter shade and while it does hide it a bit, the gray/white hairs are still there, sticking out like it wants people to look at it to remind them that I am getting old and am more stressed than usual. I have been tempted to color it all gray/white but I have been told that it is a long and tedious process that could damage my hair and it would eventually fade out to a dirty sort of blonde that I might not even care for.



There are so many color options out there, so many that claim that they have effective gray hair coverage but none of them have worked for me. I’ve tried several brands with varying shades but nothing has been able to keep the telltale hairs in check.I don’t even want to attempt those mascara-like wands that only cover it up for a day since that is just too much work for me. The spray-on coverage also doesn’t seem appealing because my problem is not with the roots but with stray hairs scattered all over my head that I can’t seem to hide. If I had the sexy Richard Gere (early RG, I think his hair is all white now) vibe of salt and pepper hair I probably wouldn’t mind. At least it’s all balanced out. Right now it all seems so messy to me.

Going to the salon is an option I could take but given that even box color treatments from the same brands of hair colors that salons use cannot do the job, what more can they do? It would only be more expensive and too much of a chore for me. I’m just not into that much maintenance on my appearance. I could go and follow my mother’s route and just leave it alone but as I said, it makes me look old...way too old for my actual age. I don’t want that. I think I have 25 more years before I can accept going full-on older Asian lady, if you know what I mean.

Suggestions for solutions to my problem are most welcome. These days my white hairs are like a hydra: cut off the head and two more will grow in its place. Cover up some and more seem to sprout up out of nowhere. Some people have suggested having the white hairs plucked out but I’m afraid of making the situation worse.

I’ve seen wax hair colors that might be able to help cover the white hairs but, like the mascara-wand type colors, I don’t want to keep doing it every day. Plus, the wax seems to end up looking sticky on the hair and I want my hair to still feel normal as much as possible.

I am so tempted to cut my hair really short so that it won’t seem too tired or messy but since I’m on the plump side, it really won’t do my face any favors. If I had a slim face, this hair would be so short right now.

I need help. Seriously. Leave a message if you know what to do!



Photo Source: Pixabay.com 
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Saturday, August 18, 2018

World of Dance

Dance is something that I’ve loved since I was a little girl. I would have taken lessons and taken that interest seriously if my parents didn’t think it would distract me from my studies but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love it any less today. I have so much appreciation from great dancing and amazing dancers, which is why I enjoy watching dance competitions on TV. World of Dance is one of those shows.

Produced by Jennifer Lopez, World of Dance is a competition where dancers audition under their respective categories (Junior, Upper, Team, Junior Team) and are made to battle for spots to get to the finals, where all the categories compete with each other for the top spot in the competition. Each contestant can compete using their respective styles, which means that a ballroom dancer can compete with someone doing contemporary or hip hop. In the finals, age also does not matter because younger dancers will get to compete with older ones. If there is an Olympics of dance, this would have to be it.

Photo Source: Pixabay

I enjoyed watching season 1 but I have to admit that season 2 has been so much better. The competition has been more intense and the dancers are just going for it harder than ever. The talent, the creativity and the athleticism of the contestants this season are out of this world!

I’ve heard that we’ll be having a version of this here in the Philippines this year. I just hope that it can be just as good as the US version. I hope that we get to see different types of dance in the competition and that the local version can have judges who are from a legitimate dance background. I hope they can be people who can mentor these dancers throughout the competition and can help these dancers become better as the competition goes along. I hope that they can be as animated and as expressive about what they think of the dancers as JLo, Derek Hough and Neyo are.

Apart from the dancing, the best part about World of Dance for me is the sense of community that is shown in the dance world. Some of the contestants are people I recognize from other dance competitions such as So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. Some of the dancers in the latest season have come back from the previous season either in the same group or by forming a new group or pairing with other dancers. It seems everyone either knows each other or have heard of each other through competitions or by just being in the same world/community. You can see the obvious respect and support that these dancers have for one another. Yes, they do give it their all and compete/battle their hearts out, but you can still see how much they admire each other’s work.

I am looking forward to more episodes of World of Dance this season and I am also hoping that the Filipino version will be just as good (or maybe even better).

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Tracing Out Our Family Tree

Have you ever wondered where you came from? What your family was like in the old days? I’ve realized after talking to my mother that apart from knowing who my great grandparents were on her side of the family, I never knew who they were. It surprised me even more that on my father’s side, they couldn’t even tell me the name of my great grandparents. I thought that was interesting so I decided to do a little research.



If any of you have seen the show Who Do You Think You Are, that’s the kind of history lesson I’d like to have when it comes to my family.I’d love to know who I was related to from the past and what kind of people they were. I’ve been using the website FamilySearch.org to find out what I can about my heritage. So far though, I haven’t had much luck. Records that go beyond my grandparents are not available unless I can find out more information about them and sadly, there just aren’t that many older people in our families around anymore to tell me more that could help me with my search.

One reason that I want to know more is because of the way our family looks. I have often been mistaken for Chinese, and when I mentioned this to my aunt at one point she mentioned that she heard we did have Chinese blood somewhere early on in the family. My maternal grandfather, on the other hand, looks Spanish, even people who knew him from his youth have said so. Thing is, no one has been able to say to me if we do have a bit of Chinese and Spanish in our family tree and if so, from where. I’d love to know more, but my resources are limited.

I’ve been told that I could do research with Catholic Churches for baptismal records and such but without knowing where exactly which grandparent came from it has not been easy. I know the more popular/affluent families would probably find it easier to retrace their family tree but for ordinary people like me that just is not the case. I wish it were that easy to pull up family records though.

At this point I think I will have more luck with my mother’s side of the family since my grandmother’s side has been known to be one of the older families in their hometown. Even if nobody remembers, the chance of finding relevant records are higher, especially since the family is devoutly Catholic and will most likely have records of baptisms and marriages at the only Catholic church in town. I’m not holding out for similar luck with my father’s side, where the most people can remember are the nicknames of my great grandparents. They don’t even know the birthdates of the older ones, so that might be something I will never find out more about. It’s too bad, I’d love to know more about my father’s family.

Is there anyone out there who can point me to the right direction with my research? I have been following a Philippine Genealogy page on Facebook but that’s the best I have been able to find online apart from FamilySearch. It’s frustrating that there isn’t much for me to go on and there aren’t any readily available records that I can look at. 

I’d love to know more about who I am and where I came from. I hope this is something I can learn from in the near future. I think it’s something worth knowing I I ever get the chance to find out more about it..



Photo Source: Pixabay.com 
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Thursday, August 16, 2018

My Smoothie Phase

A couple of months ago a co-worker offered me some of her breakfast smoothie. It was made of cucumber, lemons, honey and celery. It wasn’t bad and it was also very filling so I decided to try it myself.

I ended up shopping for enough ingredients to make one glass a day for two weeks. I loved that it helped me to feel fuller faster and the flavor was light and good. I read online that the smoothie was also good for detox so I was also hoping that it would help me to be healthier now that my doctor said I needed to.



Unfortunately, after two weeks, I didn’t feel any different. While I did love having my smoothie, I didn’t feel any different as a result of having it. I didn’t lose weight, none of the whole "my skin looks better blah blah" either. I am not going to argue that the smoothie is not healthy because I’d like to think that it is, but I just did not see any obvious/significant change to me from having it.

That led to me wondering if I was doing it wrong. I decided to add Apple Cider Vinegar. I added cinnamon. Still no significant change/improvement. I can’t begin to explain how disappointed I was that it wasn’t doing anything for me. Yes, it may be healthy but no, I don’t feel it. I felt the same, I looked the same. Nothing changed. I even tried to lighten it up more by adding more water and more lemon juice but it was pretty much the same even if I switched it up a bit.

These days I still take my smoothie, but I only do it because I like the flavor and because it’s better than drinking soda or sweet juices but that’s about it. I had certain expectations before when I first started drinking it but now I don’t. I simply have it for the pure enjoyment of a light drink other than water. I don’t have it as often as I did before when I had it daily. I just feel that the effort of preparing compared to the finished product is not worth it. 

I haven’t tried any other kind of smoothie so I can’t say for sure if this whole thing is just a fad that will go away in time but right now it is starting to feel like one for me. I need more to retain my commitment with this whole healthy drinking thing. 

Do any of you have any healthy (not too sweet) smoothie ideas I could try? Preferrably with easy to find ingredients? None of those fancy things we cannot find here in the province please! Leave me a message in the comments section and let me know!



Photo Source: Pixabay.com 

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Lessons on Debt

Debt. Who doesn’t have it these days? I know I do.

When I was younger and starting out I had responsibilities to take care of that I couldn’t pay off with just my salary alone per month tiding me over. I learned early on how to avail of loans and had started using credit cards to be able to pay off the necessary expenses. Thankfully, however, I also learned the value of being able to responsibly decide when to take on a loan and how to pay it back. Some people, however, are not as lucky.

photo from Rilsonav on Pixabay.com

Here are some lessons about taking on debt that I have learned through the years from personal experience and the debt stories of other people. I hope that it helps you as much as it has helped me.


1. Think about why you are taking on a loan in the first place.


Do you really need the money? What are you going to use it for? Is it something that can wait until you have saved up for it? These are questions you should ask yourself before taking on a loan or charging anything to your credit card. If you need the money at that very moment and it is for an important cause then by all means do so. If not, try saving up for whatever it is you need first or taking a pass on a loan if this is only something you want on a whim and not something you need.

2. Choose your loans wisely.


Let’s say you need a loan and you know of a financial institution that is willing to give you one. Don’t just grab it. Study the fine print. Check out interest rates. Make sure that you are not getting in over your head with whatever loan you are taking on before you decide to take the plunge.

3. Have a budget and learn to follow it.


Before I take on a loan I prepare my monthly budget to see if the repayment can still be covered by what I earn monthly. If I can fit it into my budget, then I will go for it. If not, I will try to look for other means to get what it is I need other than taking on that loan. If I do decide to go through with my loan, I commit to my budget to make sure that my loans are paid on time to avoid having it grow because of the interest rates on it.

4. Do not take on more loans than you can regularly pay for.


As I mentioned earlier, I will only take on loans that I can fit into my budget. I know of some people who do not do this and end up not being able to pay back their loans. They end up taking on an additional loan just so they can use the money to pay back the older one, which just starts a neverending cycle of paying for a loan that you knew from the start that you couldn’t pay back anyway. Trust me, it will never end and the stress it will give you is not worth it.

5. As much as possible, do not borrow from people.


I know that it is easier to borrow from people instead of financial institutions but I would advise against it. If you borrow from friends, any issues you might have when it comes to paying it back will only affect your friendship. It could get much worse if you borrow from family. You don’t want that. If you borrow from loan sharks, the interest rates are so high you would have been better off borrowing from a bank in the firs place. Just don’t do this.

6. Do not allow people to use your name to borrow money.


This is the worst thing you can do to yourself. I know of people who take on loans for other people, usually friends or family. Because you have a good credit line and others don’t it doesn’t mean you should let them use your name for it. When they are unable to pay, you will be left with the responsibility of paying back something that wasn’t yours. It can ruin relationships. It can ruin your credit record. It is a bad idea. Same goes with being a guarantor for someone else’s loan. If you don’t know the person that well when it comes to managing his/her personal finances, don’t do it. Please don’t.

7. Do not be overconfident about not paying back your loan.


I know of people who say that it’s OK not to pay back their loans and/or credit card debt bcause no one goes to jail for that. I beg to disagree. I know that it can happen. I also know that a bad credit record can haunt you for life. What happens when the time comes that you really need the money? What then?

The lessons I shared are just some of the ones I’ve learned through the years. While I know that it is better to not have a loan at all, I know that in this day and age and with the responsibilities we all have to shoulder as adults, this may not always be possible. The best thing we can do is to make sure that we do this responsibly and maturely as possible.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Bold Type

I watch so many TV shows in a year that sometimes it makes even my head spin. I can’t help it, there are just too many good ones out there! It can get confusing sometimes considering that I switch between watching on TV or on streaming sites to catch up on my favorite shows or discover new ones. I’ve had to stop watching some shows just to have enough time to actually have a life apart from these obsessing over these TV shows. A problem of my own making, I know, but a problem nevertheless.

You’d think that I have more than enough of my fair share of TV with cable and streaming services but sometimes I still go to those free streaming sites to find the good ones that do not make it to local TV or the sites that I subscribe to. One of those shows is The Bold Type.




The show is about three friends (Sutton, Jane and Kat) who work in the same magazine company, Scarlet. It is about the lives they lead as they learn, grow and define themselves in the industry that they work in.

I love that as much as it is about friendship and self-exploration, the show still gets to incorporate relevant issues such as the Me Too movement, immigration, body-shaming, cancer, rape/sexual assault, feminism, social media, gun ownership, women’s health, representation...I could go on and on. The best part about them tackling these issues is that they do it without it seeming like a lecture or forcing it on the viewers. They make it a part of the storyline in a way that would make viewers feel for the issues and be able to relate to those issues themselves. I remember being in tears watching their episode on sexual assault. It moved me so much and I can’t forget that scene in the park to this day. It was the finale for season 1. If you can only watch 1 episode of the show I’d recommend that you watch that one. It was so powerful!

Here is the park scene. You might not get the impact of it without watching the whole episode, but I feel the need to share this here:





The best part about the show is that while they do tackle a significant amount of drama, there is still an element of fun mixed in with it. There are a lot of funny moments, and the show does not scrimp on the humor when it comes to the girls and the good and bad events that happen in their lives.

Romance is also part of the show and I’m all for it! There is the relationship of Sutton with Richard (played by Sam Page, someone I’ve had a crush on for the longest time), a lawyer and member of the Board at Scarlet. Kat has Adena, a photographer who helped her realize that she was a lesbian. Jane, on the other hand (as of the end of the latest season), has two guys to choose from: Ben, a very handsome doctor, and Ryan aka Pinstripe, who used to be her friend with benefits who has now made it clear that he wants to be more (which I am all for, in spite of Ben being as perfect as he is).

The Bold Type for me is well-balanced in terms of all the elements incorporated in it. I actually wish there were more episodes than the usual 10 per season but I guess that length does help keep viewers like me wanting more, which is probably a good thing. I hope that local cable companies and the streaming sites I subscribe to can add this to their lineup because it’s a good show to share to everyone else.

I can’t wait for Season 3. I have to wait a year for it though.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Family Get Togethers

When I was younger, it was a given that weekends were usually spent with my cousins from my mother’s side of the family. Summer vacations too. There were also the holiday get-togethers at our grandmother’s place so we could see each other for Christmas.




I appreciate that our parents made the effort to get us all together and give us a childhood full of memories that we can hold onto forever. I love that it helped us all to become closer in spite of the fact that we all lived far from each other and went to different schools.




We’ve had so many memories together, so many games and adventures as kids that we look back on. So many movies that we grew up watching together, so much time spent at our grandmother’s house playing cards and having a good laugh together. I love that it made me feel like I had an extended number of siblings with all of them. I sill feel like I do. It’s amazing to look at everyone now and the people we’ve become to look back at how we all were back then: a bunch of kids being herded off together to the assigned house on weekends for lunch, going to Sunday church together during summers with our grandmother, going to the beach with our uncles…those were days we can all fondly look back on.



Now that we are all older and most of us have families of our own, it hasn’t been easy to get together as often as we did when we are children but I am happy that we all still make that effort to see each other whenever we can. A year does not pass without us seeing each other at one point or another. We may not always be as complete as we used to be considering that some of us now live overseas but I love that we are still all able to connect as a family.



It blows my mind how much our family has grown through the years. It started with our parents, to us the kids, then to our own kids and now to having grandchildren of our own (courtesy of our nieces, daughters of our oldest cousin). If we were ever to have a reunion with everyone in attendance I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that we would need to rent a ballroom (or at least half of it) of a hotel to make sure that we all fit!



Sometimes I regret not having children of my own to contribute to this ever-growing and loving bunch of people in my family. It’s sad to think that even in my own family, we probably won’t be able to recreate the kind of group we had as kids with our own children because we are not that large of a family. Case in point: my mother’s side of the family has 10 kids/siblings, with only one of them not having children. In my immediate family there are only four siblings. Some of our aunts and uncles also had only one child each. Four is the maximum in terms of siblings with me and my cousins, if I’m not mistaken.

I am grateful for my childhood and for the people that I have spent it with. My cousins will always be an important part of my life and I look forward to still actively having them in it until I grow old. I look forward to an ever-growing family with more get-togethers to come.



Oh and as a little note to end this post, I have to share that we just welcomed a new grandson in the family last week. And the family grows yet again!

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Take Two

I have a confession to make: while I do know who Rachel Bilson is, I do not remember seeing her in anything she has done until I’ve seen her in the TV show Take Two. A friend of mine pointed out a couple of shows I’ve seen that she guest-starred in and a movie she was in that I’ve seen but my mind still draws a blank. I just haven’t seen her in anyhing memorable until her team-up with Eddie Cibrian on Take Two. I only know her from being married to Hayden Christensen but that’s about it. I never watched the OC either so I had no idea what kind of actress she is.

Eddie Cibrian, on the other hand, I’ve known from his days in the late 90s on Baywatch Nights and Sunset Beach (plus, of course, the controversy when he cheated on his wife with LeAnn Rimes, who he eventually married). He’s been several other shows since then but I’ve never seen him as a lead until Take Two.

Rachel and Eddie seem like the unlikely couple to pair together — but then given that the producers of Take Two also came up with Castle (which also featured an unlikely pairing), I felt that it could work. And it does. Just like Castle, Take Two has a famous person (an actress this time instead of a writer) tailing someone from law enforcement (this time a former cop/private investigator) to learn about a role, which leads to them being a permanent team investigating the mysteries that are given to them.



The show is far from perfect — I’m often wondering why people they investigate sometimes don’t recognize Sam Swift (Rachel Bilson) when she’s out with Eddie (played by Eddie Cibrian — the writers got lazy with the naming?). I mean, considering how famous she used to be and how ridiculous her disguises often are it seems a given that people would be able to tell who she was. And as engaging Rachel’s character can be, I feel that Eddie seems a bit too reserved in contrast. The latest episodes seem to show him opening up a bit though, which I hope will continue until the end of the season and in future seasons, if that were to happen. I think it has to do with the fact that there is more of a back story when it comes to the character of Sam Swift compared to that of Eddie (whose name I cannot pronounce or spell without making it seem like a tongue twister).

If there’s anything I like about the show, it’s the moments when it gets funny and silly in spite of the serious investigations. I hope they’ll have more of that. The lighter and funnier the episodes get, the better and more entertaining the show becomes for me. I think they should go all out of the ridiculousness they have on the show and just go with it because that is what works for them.

A little more sexual tension between the two leads wouldn’t hurt too. I don’t necessarily care if they get together right away (even if I want them to get together), but having more moments hinting toward that would be better as well. It would be a waste of their chemistry if they didn’t make use of it in the show.

I do hope that it gets a second (and longer) season in the future. As it is, there are only 10 episodes for the first season and I don’t think that’s enough to establish anything for the show. I’d love to see more of Sam and Eddie next year, fingers crossed!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Gadget Buying Tips

I’m not your typical female shopper. I’m not into clothes, shoes and accessories. As long as I have something to wear, even if it means wearing something over and over until they become worn out, I’m good. It takes convincing from family and friends before I actually go out and buy something to wear for myself.

Gadgets, on the other hand, are a different story. I love my gadgets. I find them very useful and I own my fair share, but I don’t go crazy about it. Here are some tips I’d like to share through the years when it comes to buying gadgets:


Ask yourself: Do you need it? What do you need it for?


Let’s say you want to buy a new phone. Why do you need to buy a new one? Is the phone you have broken? Why would you need a newer model? Is it just because it’s the latest model or are there new features in it that you cannot get with your current phone that would make work/school easier?

Piece of advice: if it’s only because it’s the latest model, stop right there. For one, the latest model will have a high price. That price will lower once hype with it dies down. Plus, by the time the price lowers you might realize you never needed a new model in the first place. Think about it before you decide to buy something. Sometimes (OK, most of the time), our urge to buy is just because of advertising. Think carefully before you buy something to make sure it is something you need and not just want. That it is something that is worth the investment (or divestment, as the case might be).


Go online and Do your research.


If you have decided that you do need and not just want a certain gadget, go online and find out more about it. Read reviews, compare prices and learn as much as you can about it before going out and buying it. That will help you decide what brand and model you want to buy. It will help you make the purchase that it right for your needs and price range. The right gadget that will work for you. 



Give it a try.


Once you’ve decided on the brand and model that you want, it’s best to go to the store and give the gadget a try. I know that it’s the popular thing to purchase items online these days but take it from me, visiting a physical store and giving the gadget a try is still your best bet. We can always find out all we want about the gadget online, but how we will feel about using it is something that has to be experienced first-hand. 


Think about it. Then think about it some more.


If you have decided, don’t buy it right away. Not just yet. Sleep on it. Make sure you had done every possible thing to make sure that you do need the gadget you want and that you have made the right choice.  If you still want to buy it after giving yourself a few more days, then it’s time to buy it. 


I hope that my way of deciding when to buy gadgets can be helpful. My strategy has worked for me through the years, I hope it can help someone else too.



Photo Source: Pixabay.com 
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