Sunday, September 15, 2019

My Year So Far

As Joey Tribiani used to say, “How you doin?” I know I haven’t blogged much recently because, well, life happens. To make up for that, allow me to make this post a bit of a diary of my activities so far for this year: 


It was a busy month, I guess you can say that work wise we hit the ground running at the start of the year. We managed to accomplish some important things for the office that we really needed. It felt good to have the year start on a good note. 


This was convention month for our industry, and it was a hectic one for me because I did a lot of work for this event. Still, I made sure that I had time to balance it all out by reconnecting with an old friend (not old in the sense that the person is old, just that I’ve known the person a very long time), taking time to go out with work friends and going on a staycation with my family.  


My heart broke when I heard the news about the death of Luke Perry, whose poster was a common fixture on my bedroom wall during my younger years. It made me think about how life is short, how nothing is guaranteed and how we should make sure to do everything we can to live our best life. I decided to have fun and give in to my nephew’s request to take his toys to work with me and I did some experiments in the kitchen with the help of my sister, which is something I haven’t done in a while. 


I decided to see a former work colleague and get some career advice. Things are changing in the workplace and at this point I’m still at the stage where I’m uncertain of where I’m headed, and I needed some perspective. While she did give me some things to think about, I still don’t have that clarity that I want to be able to make my decision. Apart from that, this month was also eventful in that my nephew graduated from grade school, I had my hair color fail and finally got to see NSYNC together (sort of) again in Coachella with Ariana Grande. 


My family and I went on yet another staycation and this time, we also did a bit of sight seeing with the kids by going to some kid-oriented places nearby. It was exhausting (the sight-seeing, I mean)! The hotel stay was super relaxing, and I would love to do it again when my wallet permits me to do so.  


In a rare family moment, we all went to the beach together. We live minutes away from the beach, but we hardly ever go there. We’re more the pool people type so taking the time to get sand between our toes is an achievement for us. It was fun for half a day and then we went home! 


I decided to start on my own DIY Revenge Body workout. I love the show and decided to give it a try by setting a regular workout schedule for 12 weeks and going on a diet. It has not been what I expected so far for this first month and it made me a little disappointed. Maybe I need help from Khloe Kardashian? 


August was a celebration-heavy month. My youngest sister got married this month. It was also the birthday celebration of my late grandmother’s best friend and my grandson’s (?!) birthday.  Plus, it was fiesta period at the town where I work, which made for an event-heavy month in that area.

My family and I also got to try some food places in town this month, particularly a coffee shop and a Korean place. I will be blogging about those places soon.

There are four months to go before the year ends. I don’t know how to feel about that. I feel that time has flew by so fast and I I haven’t been able to do as much with this year as I should have. I don’t know if the next few months would be enough for me to say that I can make up for what I feel I need/want to accomplish for the year, but I will try.  

What about you? How has your year been so far? I hope your year has been good, and that the last remaining months will be even better! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Netflix Pinoy Movie Review: Everything About Her

A successful woman on the top of her game is diagnosed with cancer. Life expectancy is low. What do you do when you know you are going to die? For Vivian (Vilma Santos), the lead in the Filipino movie Everything About Her that is streaming on Netflix, it meant facing her disease head on while continuing to kill it (pun intended) in the real estate industry. She hires a nurse named Jaica (Angel Locsin), who not only helps her with her illness but also teaches her a thing or two about living a better, more fulfilled life. 

The movie is full of scenes that show off the acting prowess of both Vilma Santos and Angel Locsin. I thought that they played off each other very well in this movie not just in the comedic scenes but in the dramatic moments as well. It takes real talent to make a viewer (namely, me) laugh in one scene and then cry during another. Their exchanges all come off naturally and make you relate to their characters as real people.  

I’ve always been a Vilma Santos fan so I may be biased here but I loved her in this movie. This lady is so tiny in person but the way she played her role as Vivian made her seem like a larger than life character with so much power and influence, like someone you would not want to cross. Angel Locsin as Jaica was both street-smart and funny. The chill character who has been through a lot but keeps going. I think has played similar roles in her other films. Her role in Four sisters and a Wedding reminds me a bit of Jaica.  It’s too bad that she hasn’t done a movie in a while, I think she is so versatile as an actress (who can do comedy, drama, action, etc.) and deserves to do more films that can show off that versatility. 

While I do appreciate having the eye candy with Xian Lim being in this movie, I felt that his role as Vivian’s estranged son was not given enough exposure/time for viewers to understand how complicated his relationship was with his mother and why it was hard for him to make the effort to patch things up with her when he first came back. Still, I felt that he did justice to this role and he held his own alongside two talented actresses in this movie. 

There were several moving scenes in this movie that I loved, mostly they were scenes that dealt with parent-child relationships and how complicated they could be. There were a few particular scenes in the movie that I could count as my favorites: The scene where Vivian discovered that her son knew that she was sick, the scene where Vivian and Jaica talked about the sacrifices parents do for their children that may not always be appreciated and the scene where Vivian hosts a dinner for everyone and pretty much uses that to sort of say her goodbyes.  

I loved how this movie tackled not just the reality of a person’s mortality but also took on the topic of the relationship between parents and their grown children. I also liked that it posed the question of a good work-life balance and about doing something fulfilling with our careers and ultimately our lives, not just something that would make money. The fact that this movie was able to do that while making the audience laugh and cry (and swoon at Xian Lim, who is oh so handsome in this film) makes this a good one for me. 

This was a movie I watched on a whim. Even if I am a fan of Vilma Santos, I did not expect to like this movie as much as I did. I’m happy that it’s in an international streaming service so more people not just in the Philippines but in other countries could watch it. I think that the topic is very universal and it’s something a lot of people will be able to relate to. It doesn’t hurt that they have a really good cast for this one too. I hope people catch it while it’s still on Netflix! 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

My Most Common Balikbayan Box Gifts

As a Filipino, I believe it is next to impossible not to have a relative or a close family friend who lives or works in another country. As is normal with Filipino culture, the balikbayan box is an item almost all of us have had at one point in our lives (at the very least). Lately I realized that the most common items I’ve received as gifts via the balikbayan box are bath products, colognes and lotions. I think at this point I have enough to last me a VERY long time!

Being that I have enough lotions and cologne to last me practically a lifetime, I have no idea how much these things cost. Are they super affordable or come in promo packs that make them so easy to purchase and give as gifts? It’s not that I am implying that the people giving them are cheap – in fact, I find them practical gifts since everyone uses them and if they are affordable, it does make things easier to just buy one item of different scents so you don’t have to think too much about what to buy or if you can buy stuff for everyone and still be on budget.  

Let me put it this way: if you have tons of relatives or friends who you want to give gifts to at one given point in time, I personally would have a panic attack with worry about what to give and if I can afford to give everyone something. Given that thought then affordable items like lotions and colognes do fit the bill of good gifts. You can just give a certain group of people a bunch of them and let them pick out the scent they like best. It doesn’t hurt that the brands are recognizable/ well-known, so they are not exactly just any gift to the receiver. 

As much as I would like to say that these lotions and perfumes/colognes get a lot of use from me, they don’t (hence the whole thing about these items lasting practically a lifetime for me already). The weather in the country is just too bad and it can feel too hot to put on lotion sometimes. The humidity makes me feel so sticky! I tend to just put it on my elbows and knees, sometimes on my hands too. The feet and the legs get special treatment when I’m wearing flip flops and shorts but that’s about it. As for the scents, I’m the type of person who sprays on a bit at the start of the day and forgets to use it again for the rest of it – which means I don’t use it as much as I probably should. It’s not about being stingy with the products, it’s just that I tend to forget using them. Considering that I hardly put on makeup these days too, remembering to put on lotion during the day is an achievement in itself! 

Knowing that I will probably still be receiving these types of items as gifts (being that I have relatives abroad who send them), I try to not waste what I currently have. I don’t make a habit of regifting them, but I do tend to give them away when I know someone who wants one. Like when a friend mentioned liking a particular scent that I had at the time and have not used yet. Sometimes my sisters mention liking the scent of the lotion or cologne that I use and if it’s not really something I’m attached to; I give it to them as well.  

To any other Filipino reading this with relatives or friends abroad, particularly to the ladies, do you experience the same thing? If not, what items do you commonly receive as gifts from balikbayans? Leave me a message and let me know! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Concerts I'd Love to See

In a recent post I talked about my experience watching the Manila leg of the Boyzone Thank You and Goodnight farewell show. Their last two Manila shows were probably the first concerts from foreign musicians that I’ve seen in a long time, with the most recent prior to that being a toss-up between Alicia Keys and the Davids (David Cook and David Archuleta, fresh from American Idol). I can’t really remember which one was the more recent of the two.  

So many foreign artists have come and go and while I do love a lot of them, prices for these shows are often so expensive that I need to pick and choose which shows I really want to go to. I’ve gotten my quota of shows for the year with the Boyzone show but if any of these artists were ever to come in for a show or two, I would be happy to make the exception because of how much I love them: 

Janet Jackson 

I know that Ms. Janet is doing shows in Vegas now, but I would be over the moon happy if she ever came over to perform here in the country. Her music was a part of my younger years and her dancing was a big influence on my own love for dance during my teenage years. I can still remember the days when I would dance along to her songs like Rhythm Nation and If and how much I loved singing along to her music (there are way too many to mention because she just has an extensively good discography).  

Jennifer Lopez 

To this day I remember the first time I heard If You Had My Love and the first time that I played On The 6 on our stereo system at home. Jennifer Lopez has songs that I often danced and sang along to and her performances are always on point and high energy, so I know that watching her would be well worth the money. I’m such a fan of this woman and it would be amazing to see her show in person if I would ever get the chance.


Again, another amazing performer whose shows are unquestionably entertaining and on a whole other level. I’ve been a fan since Destiny’s Child, and I’ve followed her career since then. I think that like Janet and J Lo, her show would be worth the watch!

Taylor Swift 

People might say that in my 40s I may not exactly be her target market, but I just love Taylor’s songs, especially the last couple of albums (I've been playing her Lover album nonstop these days).  There are several of them that I can relate to and some that have inspired me as a writer. One day when I publish my book(s), this woman will be one of the people that I will thank for the inspiration so I would love to be able to watch her concert one day when she decides to stop by the country.

Kelly Clarkson 

If there were a celebrity that I would want to be my best friend, it would probably be this girl. I mentioned this in a previous post about my dream Celeb Squad. She just seems so fun and so real and I love her personality. I’m a fan of the covers that she does of popular songs and I love how much her music has grown through the years since she became the first winner on American Idol. I’d love to see her do A Minute and a Glass of Wine in the Philippines someday. One day, hopefully she can make that happen!

Sam Hunt 

Now THIS would probably the most likely to be a shot in the dark considering that country music is not exactly popular in the Philippines. Still, I am a fan of Sam Hunt and I am obsessed with his Between the Pines and Montevallo albums. To hear him sing those songs live would be a dream come true. It doesn’t even have to be a big concert, maybe just a small gathering for his fans in a more intimate type of show or setting. Something that would give off that whole back of the truck in the country hanging out vibe that some of his songs give off.


This is one concert I’d take even without Justin Timberlake, who is the most likely person who would probably not be open to a reunion tour. Like Boyzone, I was a big fan of NSYNC and I have the magazines and DVDs to prove it. Their concerts in the US were some of the DVDs I had and I would have loved to have seen all that great harmonies and dancing here in the country during their heyday. Still, I would be more than happy to just see them and hear them perform their hits in a show one day. That performance with Ariana Grande at Coachella give me a bit of hope that it’s possible. I really wish that it can happen sometime soon.

I love so many other artists but these ones are at the top of my list when it comes to concerts I’d love to see. I’m sure everyone else has their own list of must-watch musicians, I hope that we all get to watch at least one of them in our lifetimes.

Let me leave you all with a combination of two of the artists I want to see, a performance of Jenny From The Block by J.Lo and Taylor Swift during T.Swift’s Staples Center concert a few years back. Enjoy!


Friday, August 30, 2019

Streaming of TV and Movies: Why I Decided to Cut Back

I call myself a pop culture junkie because I’m into a lot of pop culture things, especially in the entertainment industry. An example is how I love watching movies and TV shows via streaming sites. At one point I think I was watching so many shows and movies that I was losing sleep from being a couch potato. There were just too many things on my “To Watch” list and there wasn’t enough time. It didn’t help that I was watching too many shows that had too much action/violence and depressing topics. It was taking a toll on me and I just could not take it anymore. I needed to cut back and have more positive thoughts in my mind.  

Image by DanFa from Pixabay

Taking a step back and looking at the list of shows that I’ve been watching, I realized that I was watching way too much of crime shows. People getting murdered, abused and being victims of various types of crime and experiencing an assortment of trauma is not exactly the kind of thing that promotes positive thinking so that was out of the question. Ditto with shows featuring secret agents and other similar shows.  

I was watching a bunch of superhero shows too. While they did involve heroes saving the day and all that, they did involve a lot of dark themes that I felt was not good for me either.  

You know what I realized after weeding a lot of shows off? There are very few shows that have a feel-good theme. Everything just seems so depressing these days. At this point the only superhero, crime or drama show that I watch tends to be the type that puts in a lot of humor and/or light-heartedness into their show and those shows that I enjoy I can count with one hand (and one of them recently got cancelled). But frankly, it’s been a good thing. I don’t lose sleep from too much TV anymore and I LOVE IT. Couch potato mode is off right now for me.

Image by xxolgaxx from Pixabay

In a way I guess this is me doing a Marie Kondo on the type of media that I take on. If I feel it will spark joy for me, I will watch it or read it but if it will only make me feel bad then I’d rather not do it, no matter how popular any of these books or shows or movies may be with everyone else. I think that there is far too much bad news already in the real world that causes too much anxiety for me to add on to it with depressingly dark-themed entertainment fare.  It feels good to let go of something that was contributing to my feeling so down lately.

It’s nice having more time to do other things than just binge-watching shows to catch up on what everyone else have been talking about. With me ignoring the whole FOMO thing and taking time for my other interests, I suddenly feel like there is not enough time. I can’t help but feel like there are so many other things that I loved that were sacrificed for TV/movies. That I really need to do the other things that I love again and rediscover who I really am apart from my obsession with binge watching.  

Watching too many things on my tablet or on TV has been such a waste of my time. What do I have to show for what I gave my time to? Nothing. Totally unproductive use of my time that won’t matter in the long run. I’d really like to change that and make time for the other things that I’ve ignored for so long like yoga, art, writing and my little experiments in the kitchen. I’ve always wanted to plant some fruits and veggies at home but never found the time. Maybe now I can finally do that. It might actually be a more relaxing and fulfilling alternative compared to what I used to waste my time on.  

As I read somewhere before: “Life is short. Do the things.” I leave you all with my wish that you may lead a fulfilling and productive existence and find happiness in discovering yourself through your daily life (and things). Let’s all take it literally people, let’s LIVE! 


Monday, August 26, 2019

Netflix Rom Com Review: Isn't It Romantic?

I’ve always loved watching movies, but lately I watch them from streaming services like Netflix more than I do in the cinema. Most of the time my movie reviews would be from films I’ve caught via streaming, like this romantic comedy called Isn’t It Romantic, starring Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra and Adam Devine.

In the movie, Rebel Wilson plays Natalie, who hits her head and is suddenly caught up in an alternate world where everything is full of clichés from romantic comedies.  She suddenly lives in an apartment she obviously cannot afford, falls in love with a very handsome man played by Liam Hemsworth and even her close friend (Adam Devine) finds love with the gorgeous Priyanka Chopra. 

I how the movie peels off each cliché from rom-coms one by one as Natalie starts adapting to her new environment. I was laughing most at the part where she is about to sleep with Blake (Hemsworth) and it keeps skipping to the morning-after scene because her rom-com universe is PG, as proven also by how it bleeps all of her curse words whenever she says them.  

The movie isn’t anything life-changing, but it was entertaining and funny to watch. It reminded me of 80s Pinoy feel-good movies that also had musical numbers like the one this movie had at the end. Like most rom coms, this one had a predictable ending (which I will not spoil for those people who intend to watch the film on Netflix) but as a parody of the genre, I think that it was to be expected. Still, I must be honest and say this is not a movie that I would be happy to watch again. Once is enough. 

Despite my feelings for the movie, I did appreciate the cinematography and the whole setup of the film. The difference between Natalie’s real world and her romantic comedy world was like day and night. The colors, the vibe of both worlds was very diverse, and it made the dream world style of Natalie’s romantic comedy life stand out. I also found the whole gay best friend character a little too much. I know it was supposed to be one of those clichés, but I thought he was portrayed a little too exaggerated for me.  Natalie said it herself in their first scene together, he was an offensive version of a gay guy. I did not like that.  

Rebel Wilson is naturally funny, often self-deprecating, but also very lovable in the movie. Liam Hemsworth, on the other hand, while he did look good in the movie and you could tell that he was having fun with the role, he just isn’t as charming or as funny as his older brother Chris (sorry, after seeing him be funny in the Marvel movies, it’s hard not to appreciate his comedic chops).  I didn’t really like Adam Devine in this movie. I felt that he didn’t have that much to do with his role, he just stayed in the background for the most part. I did, however, like seeing Priyanka Chopra in a comedic role. I think I’ve seen too much of her being broody on Quantico and being a villain in Baywatch that I forgot that she could still have a fun side to her.  

My favorite part of the movie was the whole musical scene/showdown between Priyanka and Rebel to the tune of I Wanna Dance with Somebody. I’ve always loved that song and it was an entertaining scene. It reminded me a bit of the Thriller number on 13 Going on 30. It just had that vibe. 

Would I recommend this movie to anyone? Yes, probably to people who have the time to spare and who aren’t expecting much from the movie other than some laughs, some music and a little romance. Otherwise, you can just skip this one and watch something else.  

Thursday, August 22, 2019

My Online Dating Experience

As a single person, I’ve often received comments about when I will ever get married. Either that or people would want to set me up with someone (something that I don’t really like). Living in the province where I am stuck in my home-work-home existence, dating just isn’t possible unless I were willing to succumb to the inevitable: joining online dating sites. I've mentioned this on a previous post, but this time I want to share some of my recent experiences with online dating apps. 

There are a couple of people who I know personally who have tried and successfully found someone via online dating apps and I am very happy for them. As someone who abhors the idea of being set up or going on a blind date, this is something that is a bit scary for me. I have tried this in the past, to the point where I was chatting with this English/Turkish guy who is in town for modeling gigs (and looked a bit like Adam Levine, I kid you not) but as soon as the topic got into actually meeting up, I realized that I couldn’t so that didn’t end well. The only other time that I was in an online dating app was when I found out that Michael Vartan was on Tinder. Again, another fail on my part since I didn’t find him (even if I subscribed so that I could view people who were in the LA area where he’s based).  

Image by athree23 from Pixabay

Now that I’m in my 40s the clamor from “well meaning” friends and relatives for me to meet someone to marry (or at the very least, have a child with) is at an all-time high. I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to give the online dating thing another try so I signed up for Bumble and Facebook Dating then logged in again to Tinder and OK Cupid . 

Honestly, my interest with Facebook Dating was only so that I could see what it was about. I decided not to put a photo of me – it was just my name, age and location that was on there. I thought it was a little bit creepy that most of the options being presented to me looked like creepy guys who could pass for goons in Filipino action movies. I would have signed off from the feature completely if not for the fact that I also signed up for the Secret Crush feature, where you could name your Facebook friend that you have a crush on. If he happens to be on FB Dating and lists you as his crush too, that would be a match. There are two guys that I have a crush on who are on my friends list. So far, no matches for me in that area. Either they are not on Facebook Dating (which, from the looks of things they are probably not) or they do not have a crush on me (which I would rather not think about right now). I’m giving myself until the end of the year for this one – unless I get more of creepy likes from people who, for some weird reason, think I am their match even if my photo is a cartoon of the cast of The Game of Thrones. 

There have been no matches for me on Bumble either. But I do like the setup of the app. I like how they don’t put in an unlimited number of options for you in one go. They also have a feature where they can validate if you are a real person and not someone out to do some cat fishing in the app. The profile setup is also very helpful in weeding out which person you would want to swipe right to (even if I haven’t done that yet). 

I had a match on Tinder. I got the notification of a Fil-Am studying medicine matching with me, but I decided not to reply to his message right away. He then disappeared from my end of the app. Oh well. It’s not that bad considering that most of the guys I’ve seen on Tinder seem to only want to hook up (the shirtless and low-waist photos are a giveaway). There’s one guy on there that I think is my type, but I was too chicken to swipe right since it seems he is only here for a while (ergo he might only be looking for a hookup too) so I did the next best thing: I subscribed to his YouTube channel. Knowing me I will find some kind of thing I don’t like about the guy and unsubscribe in a few weeks.  

Lastly, I have been on OK Cupid again because that is where a friend of mine found his current girlfriend/partner. BUT, like Tinder there are so many guys out there who are only into hookups. Some are even married and confidently say that they are there because they are not into monogamy (something you can put in your profile apparently). I’ve received about 50+ likes and messages from the app but since I haven’t subscribed to it, I don’t get to see the messages or who these people are. I’ve only liked a couple of guys in there, one of whom is someone I knew (and I just wanted to say, aha!) and another who is the only guy so far on that onslaught of options who I can say is my type. Sadly, that guy I picked out has been online and hasn’t been a match, so I guess I’m not his type.  

I was talking to a friend of mine who was also single, and I vented out my frustrations about not finding a match on the dating apps. I was worried that I set my standards too high, but this person reminded me that I needed to have those standards to find the kind of person that I would actually want to be with. One thing I realized now that I’ve looked back on my “journey” is that I probably won’t find the right person for me on these apps. If I haven’t found him in the last couple of months that I’ve signed up, I probably won’t find that person in those apps at all.

The whole thing got me to thinking if I was only doing this because this was something people expected of me. I kept having all these excuses and apprehensions whenever there was a guy I was thinking of swiping right to. I ended up not swiping right at all. Then all these thoughts of maybe not being a relationship person or being a commitment-phobe comes flooding in.

As I've said in my earlier post on online dating, maybe I’m just not the type to be involved with someone. I don’t know for sure. I’m fine on my own. Yes, it would be nice to have someone but I really don’t know if I am capable of being in a relationship after being single and independent for so long. 

I remember telling a friend that if I were to be with someone, I wanted it to be something that happened naturally. If it’s going to happen then it’s going to happen. Maybe I should just leave it at that and let go of these apps.

As the Florida Georgia Line song goes, “If it’s meant to be, it will be, baby just let it be.”

Signing off the apps now. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019


I love my share of musicals. I grew up watching Annie on video, along with other classics such as The Sound of Music and Jesus Christ Superstar. During my high school years I was a fan of Les Miserables and Miss Saigon and more recently I was (and still am) obsessed with Hamilton

A few months ago, I discovered another show that I started to obsess over in the way that I have with Hamilton. It’s the (fairly) new musical called Hadestown. I found out about it when I got a suggested video on You Tube that featured the two leads of the show performing the song All I’ve Ever Known. From there I watched the other videos and started following the Hadestown OBCR playlist to listen to the songs from the musical. 

Much like Hamilton, Hadestown started off as a concept album and has since evolved into the Broadway/Tony Award-winning musical that it is today. It is a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, two lovers separated by death until the former follows the latter to the Underworld to try to get her back.  

In the musical, the story is retold in the setting of the Great Depression era and is narrated by the god Hermes. It focuses not just on the relationship of Orpheus and Eurydice but also of the god of the Underworld and his wife: Hades and Persephone. If you are familiar with Greek mythology then you know how the story will go and how it will end. It may sound weird to be interested in a story you already know and yet want to see again (albeit in a different incarnation) but as Hermes sings in the musical, even if we know how it ends, we sing it again in the hope that things will be different.

I have not seen the musical in its entirety, just bits and pieces of it that have been shared online, but I am hooked. I am in awe of the actress who plays Persephone — if I could sing like that I would love to play her on stage, that’s how much I loved her performance. I get chills by how mysterious and eerie the actor who plays Hermes is when he is on stage. I think Eva Noblezada, who plays Eurydice is so talented and her voice just glides through the air when she sings. I was also pleasantly surprised about how different Reeve Carney is in this one. I’ve seen him in Penny Dreadful as Dorian Gray and I have to say that seeing him play this naïve character who was full of heart was amazing. I was disappointed that he didn’t get nominated in the recent Tony Awards for that.  

I wish that I could get to watch this with the current cast but that is nothing more than a dream for me. I doubt if I can ever make a trip to the US, much less score tickets to the show on Broadway. I hope that like Hamilton, this original cast can record one performance for future video sale/distribution to fans like me who would not have the opportunity to see the show otherwise.  

This is one of those shows that needs to have a movie version in the future. I am hoping that it happens sooner rather than much, much later. I mean, if Lin Manuel’s In the Heights can get acquired for a movie version on the year it was on Broadway why can’t this one not happen too? I’m willing to wait the decade (or so) that it’s taking In the Heights to be made and released. I think it will be worth it!


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Review: Roswell New Mexico

One of the TV shows that I was watching a few months back was Roswell New Mexico. Based on the book series called Roswell High, this is the second incarnation of the books to TV.  

I was familiar with the older show but I never followed it. I decided to give this new version a shot this time around because it was from the same creator who came up with The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, which were shows that I loved. 

Basically, the show is about a group of aliens who were part of the crash in Roswell, New Mexico in the late 1940s and how they are blending in with the people in the town they now live in. One of the aliens is in love with the daughter of an undocumented immigrant, who comes back to town after being away for a long time. This starts a series of events that threaten to reveal their secret and forces them to come to terms with who they are and where they came from.  

The show very aptly tackled issues that came with being “different” and being “aliens,” which is a good fit for the times in the US. I love that they are able to incorporate talking points about these issues in such a show, considering that it is a series marketed to a younger crowd. The issues get pointed out and is given their screen time without it being preachy or boring. It becomes part of the whole storyline. 

My favorite part of the entire series is Nathan Parsons, who plays the alien Max, who is in love with Jeanine Mason’s character Liz. I’ve seen Nathan Parsons in The Originals and I never paid him that much attention but he shines in this show as part of the star-crossed lovers (pun intended) of the series. I love how he played the younger Max who was in love with Liz even back then – the way he looked at her was very pure and innocent compared to the pained and passionate looks that he gave when he became older and is faced with her again. You can just feel how deeply in love Max is with Liz. I swear, every time he comes up with those swoon-worthy lines about how much he loves Liz I find myself almost falling off my seat every time. The guy is good at this! 

Speaking of swoon-worthy lines, I have to give credit to the writers of this show for all the romantic things that have been said on the show (mostly by Max for me). I sometimes forgot that I was watching a science fiction show and not a romantic drama with the words that were said.  

I feel like I’m disappearing until you look at me. 

Somehow you always stand in the part of the room that the sun hits first.

You touched my lips and I stopped breathing. 

Do you understand what I mean? 

Moving on...I’m very happy to see Jeanine Mason in this show. I still remember her from her dancing days on So You Think You Can Dance. I’ve seen her in several other projects since then but if I’m not mistaken, this is her first lead role. While I can’t say that she’s on the same level as Nathan Parsons, she does hold her own in every scene. 

Honestly, I don’t care much for the other characters in the show because I’m more invested on Max and Liz than anyone else...which is why I was disappointed to find out that Max died at the end of the first season. I know they will bring him back for the second season but I have the feeling that he won’t be the same Max...and I really liked the “deeply-in-love-with-Liz” version of him.  

I’m not sure if I will love the second season if Max is different, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see. I hope the writers will not let me down. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

My Fave RomCom: Never Been Kissed

I am a sucker for romantic comedies. I will always love them, no matter how cheesy they get sometimes. A few months ago I was reminded that one of my favorite rom-coms of all time had just celebrated its anniversary: Never Been Kissed (coincidentally the name of my very first blog from way back) is now 20!

I can’t believe that it’s been 20 years since I was introduced to Josie Geller of the Chicago Sun Times. I can still remember loving this character who had a second chance with high school by going undercover to try to get the inside story on the lives of teenagers. This was also the movie where I fell in love with Michael Vartan, whose career I followed up to his most recent TV show, The Arrangement. I also can’t forget to mention that this is one of the earlier movies of Jessica Alba and James Franco. 

Looking back now that I’m older, I do realize that my hopeless romantic side sort of glazed over the fact that the teacher was interested in his supposedly 17 year old student (which in hindsight is a bit of a red flag when you think about it). I know she really wasn’t 17 and just pretending to be one but still, it is a little disturbing how it was a bit ignored here in favor of getting the romance in. Maybe if they didn’t frame the relationship around that, it would be less of a disturbing thing but I really have no idea what other way they could have done it. Oh and there’s also that thing where Josie dated a high school guy, who I am assuming is also underage and 17. Also not OK. 

The age thing aside, this was one of my favorite movies because it was about a woman finding her voice and her identity. It was about connecting with people and about finding the kind of love that you wanted. Josie always wanted to be a successful writer and that article she wrote at the end of the film helped her to be that. She wanted to fall in love in the way that she dreamed of, and in the end she took a risk and got the man she wanted. 

Drew Barrymore was such a sweetheart in this movie, it was hard not to root for her and want her to succeed. I love how even in the end while she did grow as a person, she was still that lovable and charmingly awkward person that she was in the beginning of the film. 

There were so many quotable lines from the movie. I loved the scene where Josie described the kind of kiss that she wanted to have, to which her co-worker (played by now Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer) remarked that she should be a writer. 

Another memorable line (or should I say lines) in the movie was from Josie’s article, where she talks about the people you meet in high school. The girls, the athletes, the smart kids, your teachers and friends. And yes, of course, that one guy that makes you want to go to school in the morning.

I have to agree with her, although for me it could relate to people I have met in college as well. I guess it has something to do with being young — experiencing things and meeting people at that age, people tend to make a big impression on a person.Things are different when you’re young, when all things are new. It just makes everything extra special and memorable in that way.

Of course, I cannot discuss this movie without mentioning that final line where Josie finally gets her man and he tells her he’s sorry he took so long to get there and she replies that she knows what he means…that was just a classic scene for me. Then that Beach Boys song plays and everything just feels so happily ever after…to this day that song from the end reminds me of this movie and brings a smile to my face when I hear it! 

Never Been Kissed is one of those movies that I’d watch again in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. It’s a classic rom-com and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre. This whole pretending to be someone else in the age of the internet and social media would not have worked in the same way today as it did in the 90s, but it’s nice to go back to a time when social media didn’t matter. 

If you haven’t seen it, it’s probably in at least one of the major streaming services out there. It’s worth the watch!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Thank You Boyzone and Good Night!

It finally happened! As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I managed to get 3rd row VIP seats to Boyzone’s Thank You and Good Night Manila concert AND the opportunity for a Meet and Greet with the band. This was a better opportunity for me compared to last year’s 10th row seat without the chance to meet everyone.

As excited as I was about the show, I was also a tad disappointed that the Meet and Greet was not what I hoped it would be. I felt like we were in a factory assembly line: shuffled in 20 at a time, rushed to pose with the guys so that someone could take our picture and then shooed off so that the next set of 20 could go in and do the same. We were also repeatedly told not to give them anything or hand them anything to sign. I understand that there was very little time and the band did just come in from a flight from Taiwan, but I felt that it could have been handled differently. I was just lucky that I managed to stand near Ronan Keating where I could tap him on the arm to tell him that I loved their music (and the radio show he does with Harriet Scott that I follow online). I also managed a hug from Keith Duffy as I was being rushed out of the room, with Mikey Graham stifling a laugh at the situation.

Photo Credit: Wilson Chua (Sorry had to blur out the other people since I didn't have their permission to share their photo in public!)

In spite of the state of the Meet and Greet, I still had a good time at the concert itself. Former Westlife member Brian McFadden entertained the fans with a bunch of Westlife songs. My sister and I agreed that he had a really good voice which, I admit, I never noticed when he was on Westlife. He was also very good on stage and knew how to handle a crowd. He was very entertaining. I’d watch him if he ever came back to the country to perform because based on how he was as a front act, I know he’d be good to watch again.

The set list for Boyzone was, as they promised, full of the older hits, as it was their good bye to the fans who have followed them through the years. I loved going back in time to the songs that made me love this Irish boy band in the first place, and I enjoyed seeing the old videos that they shared on the big screen as they performed their hits.

As they did last year, they also had a special tribute to Stephen Gately who passed away in 2009. It was good to see the video where they all talked about their relationship with him and equally touching to hear them perform with his voice still included in the track so that he could be there with them.

It was a long show (and based on how they looked at the Meet and Greet the guys all looked like they were very tired from the very long and hectic tour schedule) but they still gave us fans a performance that we won’t soon forget. The energy was very high, with all the guys making the effort to get closer to the fans from the stage. Keith even went straight to the audience area to perform in the crowd!

After the last song it was sad to see it all end, but I am happy that I got those two hours to relive my youth and the good memories that it had for me. It was great to meet people like me who, for those couple of hours, got to be kids again watching our favorite band before we go back to living as adults with careers, families and responsibilities (something that I think Keith also said in an interview about the tour). It was nice to exchange stories with other fans like me who were big fans since the beginning. I was surprised to find out how many of us were unable to go and see them when we were younger and were now watching them from the VIP seats. It's good that we got to see them before they disbanded!

I’m really glad that the band came back for one final show. I actually got a few ideas for my book ( a historical novel that was partly inspired by some of their songs and some actual events in Philippine history) during the concert and from meeting them in person. I can’t wait to start writing it again! Just looking at Ronan made me think of the character I had based on him. It was hard to write before when he looked much younger but now that he's in his 40s, the character just came alive for me when I saw him up close!

On that note, this is me temporarily signing off to write this dream novel of mine. I won't be able to post as often as I used to, but I've written some advance posts that I've scheduled to pop up every now and then in the meantime. I'll be posting updates on my writing when I have something significant to share so please keep stopping by this blog whenever you can.

Thank you again Boyzone for coming back. Thank you for the music and for letting us say goodbye.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Twin Lakes Hotel Experience

Last year my family and I had such a good experience “staycationing” (if there is such a word) that we decided to do it again this year. For my birthday I decided to take the family out to stay overnight at a hotel again. I had originally wanted to do it at Taal Vista Hotel, which was where we stayed last year to celebrate my niece’s birthday, but the suite we used wasn’t available. I looked for other hotels in the area and ended up booking the suite at Twin Lakes Hotel along Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway in Batangas (although most people tend to think that this is in Tagaytay, I know I did).

I was planning to review the hotel for my blog when I first booked our stay. What I didn’t know at the time was that Twin Lakes was being managed by a friend of the family. If anyone feels that I’m being a little biased with my review, feel free to call me out on it.  

It is worth noting that the hotel opened in December 2018 and it is fairly new. At the time we first stayed there, some areas of the hotel were still under construction and their facilities were not yet complete. I’ve read reviews of people complaining about the construction, but personally I wasn’t bothered by it. We didn’t hear or see the parts that were still under construction so it was not a big deal. Maybe the hotel could post a note on their website about it or inform people booking when they call or email so that they would at least know what to expect. I knew beforehand from the reviews that there was still some work being done so our group was not that bothered by it. 

Checking in was a breeze and we were ushered to our suite after we were done with our welcome drinks. The suite was a combination of two bedrooms and one middle/living area. It was not as huge as the one in Taal Vista but I think for the family this was a better option because we were all closer together. Like Taal Vista they had a welcome fruit basket in our room when we got there.

The rooms were clean, the bathroom in the bedrooms had a tub and a shower and there was a toilet in by the living room area as well. Each room had a balcony, with sliding doors that automatically shut off the AC when it is open to save electricity (that’s just me guessing) since the weather can be a bit cold outside anyway. The bedrooms included bathrobes and slippers for the guests as well as the requisite toiletries. There were mini fridges in both rooms with sodas. The usual bottled water, coffee and tea with a small electric kettle was also part of each room. 

The balconies have a good view of their vineyard, although at the time we were there they were newly planted so there wasn’t much to see. I was told that it would look better by the last quarter of the year. I’m looking forward to seeing that. 

For guests who want to go out of the hotel, there is a van service that goes up to the commercial area every hour. We made use of that service a lot when we were there and even got to chat with a very friendly driver, who happily offered us discounts to their family-owned Halo-halo business in Bacoor, Cavite.

Later that evening I decided to join the kids for a swim in the heated infinity pool. I LOVED it! It felt so relaxing taking a dip in the warm water as I looked out at the sky and the stars. There was a lifeguard looking out for us who was ready with towels when we needed it. The kids enjoyed the swim so much that they went back in the following day after breakfast. It helped that water was not too deep and that there was a pool for kids. 

The breakfast buffet was good. My mother commented that although the selection was not as wide as Taal Vista’s, it definitely tasted good. We also enjoyed taking in the view at the balcony of the restaurant, something I’m sure a lot of other people would enjoy. 

While the hotel did not have a spa yet, we were able to book a massage from an affiliate spa for my mom with the help of the hotel front desk. The masseuse came to our room and worked on my mom there. She said that it was very relaxing even if it was done in our room.  

My family and I had such a good time that we ended up booking two rooms again recently. We would have loved to have the suite again but since we booked last minute, we could only get two rooms which were, thankfully, right next to each other. 

After we checked in, we roamed around and found (with the help of a security personnel who showed us the way) that they already had a gym, which my sister made use of the following day. They were also in the finishing touches of a kid's playroom and a game room (for the older kids like us). We will probably be able to use those facilities next time. 

Sadly, there still wasn’t any spa but we did avail of the massage that my mom got the last time. I have to agree that it was really good. I was so relaxed by the end of it all that I couldn’t keep my eyes open that night even when I promised my sisters that we’d stay up late! The masseuse told my mom that they will also be the same staff at the spa in the hotel once it opens. I’m definitely looking forward to that! Spas are my happy place! 

During our second stay we decided to try the restaurant for our other meals since we went up to the commercial area the last time. We were happy with our dinner (grilled was the theme of the night) but we were a little disappointed that it was the same selection all over again for lunch. I guess we were hoping for slightly different fare the following day. Still, we had good meals while we were there. We were a little too full every time!

My sisters and I also decided to try their room service. There weren’t any menus in our room so we ended up going out to the hotel bar to ask around. The person assigned there was very friendly and gave us a menu and several options for drinks since we were looking to have a little alcohol that night. There wasn’t much offered in terms of meals on the menu (with some items that were on the menu that ended up being unavailable), and the ones that were offered weren’t good for sharing like what we had intended. But since the guy assisting us was very friendly and helpful, we still ordered some food and drinks for our room.  

Both times while the experience was not perfect, I have to say that I had a good time at Twin Lakes Hotel. Being a new hotel, it still has a lot to improve on (or should I say, complete) before it can serve its guests to the best of its ability but I think they’re off to a good start. The friendly staff who are always willing to help (I suddenly remembered one of their staff seeing me checking out the hallway in case there were people who could help us with our TV and rushing over to see how he can help) is a big plus. The person to person experience/service is always a big factor on whether or not we come back to a place and this has the kind of people that would make us come back. 

That last morning I had when I sat by the balcony, looked out at the sunrise while I read a book made me feel like I was in a happy place. It was quiet and peaceful and just beautiful. I would definitely come back again. 

You know what? I'd probably be back before the year ends. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Toy Adventures

My nephew is the love of my life. He is my person. He says goodbye to me when I go off to work and is often the first to welcome me home after a long day at the office. He kisses me goodnight practically every evening and hangs out with me a lot when I’m home. We watch TV, play Jenga and other games and draw together. So, when this little one asks me a favor, you can bet that I will say yes as long as it is something that is possible. 

A few months ago, he gave me one of his toys, a turtle. He asked me to bring it with me to work and to let it join me all day. I decided to take photos of that little turtle as I went about my day: I took a photo on the way to work, while at was at the office, while I was at a meeting and when I went on the road for some work errands. The little one had such a good time watching what his turtle was up to during the day. I loved that it made him happy to see that I made an effort to give his turtle a good time. It also gave him an idea of what I did when I was not at home too. 

I think the turtle a big success because a few weeks later, he asked me to bring along another toy, this time it was a stegosaurus (he is very into dinosaurs right now). Again, I brought it with me everywhere. Good thing that I had a lot of work errands to attend to that day so I was able to take photos with the toy (the little one calls him “Stegy”) at all sorts of places. Even my co-workers were enjoying what I was doing because they eventually ended up suggesting places where I could take my photos while I was out and about with them. They even became the ones to remind me to take a photo of Stegy at a couple of stops.

Again, my nephew loved the photos that I took and enjoyed finding out what Stegy was up to while he was away. I have to be honest, at one point I think I forgot the toy somewhere and I ended up stopping and retracing my steps to figure out where it was. I almost lost the little thing! I was in such a panic! Good thing I found it again and that no one picked it up for themselves.  

I ended up looking silly a couple of times when I took the photos for my nephew but I didn’t mind. I really just love the kid and I’m more than happy to do something to put a smile on his face whenever I can. After all, time flies by so quickly and he’ll grow up and I won’t have the kind of time that I have with him right now. I want to enjoy every moment with him when I can.  

I don’t have children of my own so the kids of my siblings are the closest that I can get to having kids of my own. When my other nephew and niece were little, I also made sure that I did things to bond with them the way I’m doing now. I feel that it is important at this stage in their lives to be able to give them the good memories and quality time that I share with them. I want to be able to give them moments that they will remember fondly when they grow up. I hope the little things like this will matter to them in the long run. I know that it all matters to me. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Kolours Signature Series Review

My hair has been a big issue for me these past few years because of the gray hair that keeps popping up. I wouldn’t mind it much if I didn’t look so stressed all the time and having that hair color seems to make it worse. I’ve taken to experimenting with box hair colors and after several rounds of using L’Oreal, I decided to give Kolours Signature Series a try.

Kolours is a local brand and their Signature Series is a collaboration with actress/model/painter/TV and Social Media personality Solenn Heussaff. There are three shades in the series: Ash Brown, Honey Amber and Raspberry Red. I recently saw a photo of Kim Chiu with Strawberry Brown hair so I chose Raspberry Red.

First thing I noticed was that when my sister and I opened the boxes (I used two because my hair is long) was that the two bottles of developer had different shades. One was considerably lighter than the other. We did a double take and looked at the shade name on the boxes thinking that we got one wrong but apparently, we didn’t because both were labeled the same color. We found that weird but we still went on with it.

After applying the color as instructed and rinsing it off, I was surprised that my color ended up looking bright and orangey. I was disappointed because the Raspberry Red color of Solenn’s hair on the box was a darker shade and was very red. My sister said that the color might fade a little after a couple of shampoos but that wasn’t much of a comfort for me. It was obviously not going to be any darker than what I currently had.

The Before and After

Don’t get me wrong, the color was not awful. In fact, I’ve received compliments about my hair color, with people saying that the shade suited me. It’s just that it wasn’t the color that I was going for. I had a specific look in mind and I didn’t get it. I know I could change it now but I’m worried about damaging my hair so I am going to wait a while before I do it again. 

I think that I can color my hair again in about three months once the roots start showing. I’m going to have to choose another shade, hopefully this time I can get the color that I want. I’m not sure if I want to use Kolours again though. The shade I prefer in the Signature Series is just Raspberry Red, because the other two are already too light for my taste. I just might go back to L’Oreal because they also have great gray hair coverage and I always get the color that I’m expecting when I use it. 

I wonder if there was something wrong in the packaging process and the wrong shade was in that one other box, the one with the lighter shade of developer? Maybe that’s why I got a different color than what I had expected? 

Part of me is wondering how long I can maintain all this coloring. Maybe I should color my hair gray and just let it go after that. Maybe I should just embrace the gray and get this all over with! I mean, it is all going to be that way eventually. My mother stopped coloring her hair and now she her hair is a salt and pepper color and it’s not so bad. I have a cousin who doesn’t color her hair and she looks good with all the streaks showing too. Am I too young to let it go that way or should I give it a shot? 

What do you think? 

Friday, June 7, 2019


If mermaids existed in the real world and if they live among us, what would life be like? The Netflix show called Tidelands seemed to answer that question for me.  

The TV show is an Australian 8-part series that tackles the world involving the Tidelanders, who are the offspring of sirens and humans. In the show, ex-convict Cal McTeer is released from prison and goes home to a town called Orphelin Bay, where she finds out about the real reason why the town is still being kept alive in spite of the poor economy. Clue: it has something to do with the Tidelanders. 

Without giving much away, the series presents a story of how the Tidelanders came to be, how they survived and what kind of community they have apart from the humans. They are also presented as different from the typical mermaid that we are familiar with. No tails, for one thing. They look like humans with the difference being that they have powers/abilities: they can control water (and blood, since it is part water), they can control a person with their voice (they are part siren, after all) and they have superhuman strength and speed. They can crush you in more ways than one (there is a particular scene featuring Elsa Pataky and the guy who plays Augie McTeer that would explain this for me but you have to watch it to know what I mean). 

Elsa Pataky, aka Mrs. Chris Hemsworth, stars in this show as the lead villain Adrielle, the self-proclaimed Queen of the Tidelanders. She is the Tidelander with the most mystery to her character. If you decide to watch the show, you’d find out that her motives are kept hidden until the very end. I loved her role in this because she plays the power-hungry and obsessed Tidelander well.  

Just like the other Australian series that I recently watched, this show is not afraid of nudity and sex scenes. I mean, this is something that I’m just not used to watching on a TV show. I guess it’s just not that big a deal in Australia. If I see another Australian show with this much nudity, I’d say this is normal fare down under. 

The story is not just about the supernatural, but also has some drama and action (and bit of romance) in it. There’s even a crime theme to it. There’s a lot tackled in the show, maybe a little too much because I felt that some characters ended up being under-used...but then again it could be because there were just too few episodes for them to do something about it. 

I’m not sure if this one will have a second season but given that there have been a lot of negative reviews on it, probably not. Too bad, because I was interested in the story and how it could possibly play out for a season 2, especially with the Kim Kardashian-looking characters that showed up at the last episode (you have to watch to see what I mean).  I’d also love to know what happens to Cal and the other characters from the last scene of the season onward. I just feel like there is way too much that still needed to be said and shared, it was too short to end on that note. 

On second thought, with all the good-looking guys seemingly dead or dying in that last episode, maybe it won’t be worth it to have a season 2 unless they all made it out alive? I mean, where else can I watch Aaron Jubenko, Mattias Inwood and Marco Pigossi after this? 
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