An Unlikely Visit to Tatay

I was out for almost the whole day today and I spent most of the time (surprise, surprise) eating. I even have the pictures on Facebook as proof. However, I have another blog for such things so my foodie adventures from today will be posted there. Hopefully by tomorrow. As you can probably tell, I’m not really all that regular a blogger. This writing-everyday thing is going to be a bit of a challenge for me. I just know it.

But anyway. On to other things beyond how gluttonous I can be!

Today, we went to the cemetery to visit Tatay. For those who don’t know, All Saints (November 1) and All Souls (November 2) Days are pretty important holidays here in the Philippines. These are the days in particular when we go visit and pay respects to our beloved dead. It’s also a time when families get together for reunions, which doesn’t happen very often given how people are so busy nowadays. Unfortunately for me, I had work on those two days (See? Busy!) so I wasn’t able to go and visit our dead and meet up with our relatives. Because of that, we decided that we will visit Tatay this weekend.

Mama and I met up with one of my Titas, Tita Bong, for lunch and we ended up enjoying each other’s company so much, we ended up taking more time than we planned. Which was okay since Tita Bong had been out of the country for so long so we never saw her until then. Still, it was already past 3pm when we parted and we still had to go visit Tatay. We picked up Noel, my brother, then headed off. We had to take some time to visit our house in Binan too because there was a buyer and then we were off again when all business was done. It was already around 5pm then and it was starting to get dark.

By the time we arrived in the cemetery, there was almost no light out. The sun had set and the sky only had a few patches of light blue. The cemetery was already kind of deserted, especially since the cemetery staff didn’t bother to light the lamps even if it was the time when a lot of people were expected to come by and visit their dead. I guess they were trying to conserve spending for electricity but whatever. I still think that was kind of dumb of them, at least for this occasion. We’ve never visited Tatay’s grave that late before but somehow it wasn’t eerie at all. I guess it helped that the place wasn’t filled with graves as a lot of other cemeteries were and it was very well maintained.

Just as we got out of the car, it started to rain. It was just a gentle shower and it cooled the surroundings down. Midday heat has been ridiculous nowadays so this bit of rain was a blessing. It’s kind of superstitious, but I liked to think that it was Tatay being welcoming and happy as we stayed with him for a while and prayed. It really felt like he was right there with us and it was a warm, familiar comfort. The rain went on until we finished then headed back to the car to go back home.

Tatay, I hope you’re doing okay where you are. We miss you. We love you.

I’m Anti-Social, Awkward and Employed. Oh and I was in Makati today.

There’s this unknown number that had been sending me messages the past few weeks. I kept ignoring it, thinking it was just one of those people looking for a text mate and I had no time nor patience to give for a text mate, really. This person seemed very persistent, though, so I started thinking this may be someone I actually knew. So I finally texted back and asked them who they were. It turned out it was this guy whom my Aunt in Masbate gave my number to. She had mentioned to me before that it’d be nice for me to have guy friends. I told my Mom about this guy and she said she’s pretty sure the guy’s okay since my Aunt must know him and had enough confidence in him to give him my number. “It’s just friends. He’s not going to be marrying you!” Even my brother said to just give it a try. “Just befriend him.”

And what’s my stance on this? OH HELL NO. Now, I understand my aunts have this concern for me because I never seemed to be interested in romantic relationships. They wish for me eventually to have a boyfriend and then get married, you know, the whole shebang. I know they’re just concerned and they probably feel like they’re doing me some good, but to give my number away to some guy I don’t know without my consent? And make me befriend him? To put in effort in getting to know him when I’m not interested and didn’t ask for him to text me? I’m sorry, but no. I understand, it’s just to make friends, but what if I don’t want to make friends? Have they ever thought of that? I’m sorry for sounding like a bitch, but they have put me in a very difficult situation and I’m sure they don’t understand. I’m not a very social person and it’s hard for me to find interest in most people, especially if I haven’t met them face to face and I have no idea what their interests are. Sure, I can ask them, but as of now, I don’t think I can put in that effort when I’m kind of feeling offended that they’d just give my number to some guy without my knowledge and to then force me into a situation that I don’t care for, much less appreciate. Please don’t give me surprises like this. I don’t appreciate them and I pity the guy for having to spend time and money in texting me when I’m really not interested in getting to know him.

And how do I tell him politely that I don’t want him to text me anymore? Another social conundrum for anti-social little me. UGH. Another thing I don’t want to deal with.

~*~

My Korean boss has been here in the Philippines for two years or so and he hasn’t really been anywhere. Sure, he’s been to Baguio and some other places, but that’s it. Before, when Clark, our one and only male teacher, was around, he’d take our boss out on weekends to places like Luneta, the malls, et cetera, just so he can stretch his legs and just look around. Now though, Clark’s not with the company anymore and so Mr. Jang, my boss, is again just stuck doing nothing most weekends. He wants to go to other places, see other things in the Philippines, but he can’t do that without a guide since getting around here in Manila still escapes him and he fears being mugged again, which has already happened once. If only I were a guy, I’d take him out on weekends too and show him around. I’d take him wherever he wants to go, show him what he wants to see.

But I can’t because I’m a girl, he’s my boss and doing that by myself will be awkward, haha.

~*~

I was forced to go to Makati’s PhilHealth branch earlier this week because apparently that’s where Pasay-based companies are supposed to conduct their business with PhilHealth. It was a long commute, requiring an LRT ride from Edsa to Buendia and then switching to a Guadalupe-Cartimar jeepney. Well, not exactly a long commute when you think about it, I think it only took me 30 minutes or so, but I went around 1pm and the sun was high in the sky. It was so hot and it just wasn’t the best time to be going around, but I had no choice, really. As I was sitting in the cramped jeepney, sweating like a pig and being miserable, I realized how these trips to different government offices have made me pretty adept at commuting through public transportation and finding my way in unfamiliar areas in the Metro. I thought that was pretty cool.  Another skill to add to the skill set.

And since I’m already talking about work, let me tell you more about it. My three months’ probation contract is almost over and so far I think I’ve gotten the hang of working for my company. My bosses are pretty okay, though I have to say it’s both a joy and a curse to be working for them at times, haha. My co-workers are nice and friendly. The HR and Accounting side of my job are very challenging along with the dabbling in Legal stuff, but I’ve been coping so far. I hope my boss agrees to renewing my contract, haha. I hope I’ve been a good enough addition to the staff to keep for another six months or so.

Last night, we were sitting around the dining table talking and the subject of my job came up. Mom told Noel and his girlfriend, Yla, about how she encouraged me to take this job in the first place despite the low pay and I agreed. “It was better than sitting here at home feeling sorry for myself.” I said, then joked, “Now I can sit here and feel sorry for myself while getting paid!” Yeah, I do feel sorry for myself sometimes, my job has its tedious and difficult facets, but at least I’m being paid, hahaha.

~*~

I was in Makati today! I missed Makati so much like you wouldn’t believe! Believe me, if you work around the Pasay Rotonda area, you will appreciate Makati so very much. I would like to thank my Mom for being kind and sponsoring my hair spa and haircut at Hair Click, a Korean hair and beauty salon along Polaris St. in Bel Air, Makati. Beside it was this Korean grocery where we got kimchi and other Korean treats like chapssalddeok, which is the Korean version of mochi. Then we had lunch at Cafe Mediterranean in Greenbelt and then had frozen yogurt at Qoola. Mama wanted me take a picture with my new hair so we got that done in Greenbelt 3 and while we waited we browsed around Muji and Powerbooks. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like spending too much so I just looked around Muji though I wanted to get one of their notebooks. I ended up spending my money on cheaper, but still cute notebooks at Powerbooks. I also got a cheap pencil case to put my pens in and white out, because I love office supplies forever.

Now I’m back home and I’m quite tired but happy. It’s raining now and this entry is done.

Hello, Saturday. ❤

Cinemalaya Saturday

Today started out just like most every Saturday. I woke up early after staying up late the night before because that was just how I let go of the stresses of the work week. I felt crappy and tired and didn’t really feel like going anywhere. There’s that feeling again of not wanting to leave the house after spending most of the weekdays outside, working. Weekends are supposed to be spent at home, doing nothing, but alas I have gotten a friend, Elise, to get me tickets to two Cinemalaya movies and thus I had to get off my lazy butt eventually to go. I found it ironic how I was wearing my Captain America/Hetalia crossover tshirt for an indie film festival. I just thought it was funny.

After satisfying a cheesy pasta craving, Elise and I headed off to CCP to get doused with some culture. Our first film was Ang Nawawala, which we both thoroughly enjoyed. It was definitely more than we both expected. From the trailer, you would think that it was just some love story with a very eclectic, hipster soundtrack, but as most Cinemalaya entries go, it goes deeper than that (Rule of thumb for Cinemalaya: Do not take trailers at face value). It is a love story and it does have a very cool soundtrack that most hipster or hipster-wannabe young’uns would enjoy, but it also tackles family and death and trauma and how they all intertwine to create one hell of a unique coming-of-age story for its protagonist who just refuses to talk. The music was all fun and unexpected, especially for me who just wasn’t hip with the indie music scene. The cinematography made Manila look so nice. They really chose their locations and made sure to capture how magical Manila can look when it’s Christmas, which was the time when the movie was set. The actors were good at what they did and I kept wondering if Dawn Zulueta was ever going to age. She’s just so beautiful even now and her talents haven’t diminished any, either.  Boboy Garrovillo fit his role very well as the seemingly content father. I loved just how effortless it all seemed to him to play such a subtle role. Special kudos to the twins Dominic and Felix Roco who were both so great as, well, perhaps the main protagonists of the story. I loved their brotherly chemistry and banter and I kept wondering if they were particularly affected by the emotional scenes.  Annika Dolonius who played the leading lady Enid, was charming and very convincing in her role as the beautiful, mysterious hipster girl who I may have wanted to be at times, haha. Mercedes Cabral also made an appearance and I still love her. She said my favorite line of the movie, “You like your boys like you like your comics. With many issues.” or something like that.

Our second movie was Kamera Obscura, which was probably the complete opposite of Ang Nawawala. For one, it’s a movie that features a silent film and for two, the setting of said silent film is of course the past. In particular, sometime between the 1920’s and 1930’s. I found it, again, ironic while I was watching it that there I was, willingly subjecting myself to a silent film when during my days as a Communication Arts student, watching silent films were considered some special kind of torture administered by our Introduction to Film professor. But then I liked period films and I’ve always admired Joel Torre, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s not a film that you should watch when you want escapist fare. How can you escape reality when it offers political commentary on the government, the media and the people? At least you didn’t have to listen that attentively as the dialogue was flashed in text between scenes and takes just like how it was done in old silent films. Still, the film required a lot of attention and thinking, which we sort of expected, but I guess one should still psyche themselves up if they weren’t used to such films. The concept was unique, though, as the silent film itself was within a film and really, who even thought of making silent films nowadays? Definitely unique and you could see the effort they put into making it all look authentic. The look of the film was grainy and it really seemed like it was being filmed by old film cameras. There were interesting elements in the film that couldn’t have been possible before, though, but I guess that doesn’t really matter. I think the filmmakers were able to deliver their message pretty well given the medium they decided to use. Still, though. Be ready for some brain exercises.

All in all, another great Cinemalaya Saturday. There was some great bonding time with Elise and the films were both good. We saw some celebrities, had some geeky, nerdy conversations and Elise practiced her Nihonggo, haha. Not at all a bad Saturday spent out of the house.

Rainy Daaaaaaays

I had so many plans for this weekend. First, I was supposed to spend it watching Cinemalaya entries. Yep! It’s that time of the year again! I was supposed to see two of the films, namely The Animals and Ang Nawawala, but then it ended up that I was going to have to watch them alone as my friends were unavailable. And so I opted to make other plans. Plan B was supposed to be watching The Amazing Spiderman with Val. Unfortunately, that didn’t fall through either as Val needed rest and relaxation. I was really looking forward to watching something this weekend. I was really beginning to feel how behind I was on movies. I already missed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the new Batman movie has just come out. Movies! I wanted to go out and watch movies! I was already toying with the idea to just go ahead and watch by myself anyway when the weather decided things for me.

It started raining really hard last Thursday, which sucked because I had plans after work. I was all dressed up nicely too! Tita Star was back from Bangkok and we were supposed to have dinner with her before she went back home to Naga the next day. I was really looking forward to it as I haven’t seen Tita Star in a while and I wanted to hear about her Bangkok trip. We were also supposed to go eat out so of course I was game. But alas, the rain was relentless. I stepped on a puddle and soaked my shoe and slacks as I was walking towards the footbridge crossing Edsa Extension. That pretty much put a damper on my mood. By the time I arrived at the Edsa LRT terminal, my slacks were heavy and wet with rain water and I just couldn’t see myself making my way anywhere else but home. I had to beg off from dinner as I was soaked and quite miserable. Even a hot and delicious bowl of Pho wasn’t enough of an encouragement to slosh and soak my way to Robinson’s Ermita. It was good that Tita Star understood. The night wasn’t a total loss as Mom was generous enough to send home a doggie back for me that consisted of yummy Vietnemese food. I was able to have Vietnamese anyway that night and also the next day, when I packed some leftover Pho (complete with bean sprouts, lemon and basil) and Beef Stew to work. Thursday wasn’t that awful though it felt like it was for a while.

The weather wasn’t any better yesterday, Friday. At least this time I was ready for it. Never have I been more grateful for my Islander slippers. Again, my pants were soaked, but at least they were jeans and I was able to fold them up. The winds were stronger last night and there was more rain. Even the footbridge was a bit flooded as I was walking towards the LRT and I thought my umbrella would slip from my grasp so many times.  It was around this time, as I was struggling with my umbrella, that I gave up and just laughed. Friday night was going to be wet and cold. Fine. Okay. The LRT was a bit of a relief when I got there, but it wasn’t the end of my rainy journey.

GROOOOOOSSSSSS. That was my main thought when I walked down the stairs to exit Vito Cruz’s LRT Station. Vito Cruz and Taft were flooded. I’ve never seen Taft that flooded before and I regretted not having a camera with me to take a picture. There were waves and the water was kind of brown and definitely dirty. Tricycle drivers were scrambling around trying to encourage people to pay double the usual fares and get a ride. I was pretty sure some people gave in eventually, eager to go home and keep as dry as possible. I didn’t mind schlepping through flood water in my reliable slippers and folded up pants, though. It’s disgusting, but I could wash when I get home, was what I was thinking. So walk into ankle-deep flood I did. (GROOOOOOOOOOOSS.)

I wasn’t alone. A lot of other people decided that they’d rather walk in the flood than pay too much for tricycle fare. It was a bit entertaining to see the Lasallista Froshies squeal and complain as they got their feet wet in flood water (“OhmyGOD! What is this??? Eeew. EEEEW!”). I also had to admire the other seasoned Lasallistas who just carried on as if it’s nothing, like flood like that happened all the time. I even saw one walking all nonchalantly as you please, holding her large order of milk tea in one manicured hand, as she traversed the flood like a pro in her cute flats. Meanwhile, everyone else scampered and looked like drowned rats all around her. Now that was style, lol.

It was still raining pretty hard this morning and the weather was said to continue on being this way until tomorrow.

Looks like it’s a cool, rainy weekend at home. Hopefully things would be better next weekend. I’m really hoping to watch movies then. For now, deebeedees and online streaming movies will keep me entertained. Maybe I’ll be able to watch The Amazing Spiderman after all.

Baguio June 22-25, 2012 [Day 4 and the Aftermath]

Look at that face!

The last day was sad, man. I always felt like that when I leave somewhere I really enjoyed. I felt the same way when I was leaving Hong Kong the last two times I went. After a while of getting used to everything, I didn’t want to leave. And why would I want to? I was living in a hotel with an awesome breakfast buffet and the climate was so niiiiiice. Seriously, I didn’t want to leave.

Our spot!

I already miss the sights! The climate that was so perfect I wanted to take it back home with me! The biscuits and mushroom gravy! I got those feelings where I wanted to stay there and actually live and work there. Manila is just so polluted. Manila is just so hot! I didn’t want to go home, okay?!

Ah, but it must be done. I had to come home and experience going back to the daily grind. My days in Baguio will be well remembered and I already am looking forward to going back hopefully sometime soon. I hope Le Monet has promos again, haha.

One more Twilight scenery pic for the FEELS!

Baguio June 22-25, 2012 [Day 3]

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– We didn’t wake up early today. We decided to sleep in for a bit before heading down to breakfast. I think I ate too much for breakfast, but I guess it couldn’t be helped. Breakfast buffets tended to do that to people who are helpless in avoiding their lure.

– Le Monet has a beautiful garden to the side. It has a stone path, ponds and gazebo-like spaces where you can sit and just take in the peacefulness of the place. I wanted to take the time to sit there and read, but alas, it was open air and the sun and I were not friends. I took the time to take some pictures and after a while of capturing the scenery, I felt that was something was missing. Sometimes, places like this needed to be photographed with people, so after a while, I got Mama to come down and take pictures with me. The pictures came out better after that.

– Some of the morning and afternoon were spent watching one of Mama’s Korean dramas, The Rooftop Prince. It’s about a Prince who gets sent to modern day Korea along with his retainers. They have to solve a mystery before they are able to get back to their time. And of course a Korean drama won’t be complete if it doesn’t have a romance on the side. It’s cute, hahaha. I like it better than my favorite Korean actor, Jan Geun Seuk’s, Love Rain. It’s just more fun.

– At around 3pm, we set off to Mile High to find pasalubong for Kuya Arnel and Yla, Noel’s girlfriend, but to no avail. Nothing just seems right to give to them. In the end, we left with nothing.

– We headed back into the city proper to go to the Cafe By the Ruins. It’s a well-known cafe built around the remains of the old Civil Governor’s home. It has become a hotspot for the local arts scene and live performances and exhibits are often scheduled for viewing there. I read somewhere that the place offered the best native hot chocolate so of course we ordered one of their chocolate drinks, Rizal’s Tsokolate-e. Cafe By the Ruins was also known for the bread that they make in-house, so of course we ordered one of the breads: Ernie’s Camote Bread which came with a small tab of liver pate. Mama has been craving vegetable soup so she ordered this soup with spinach and mushrooms. I loved the rustic feel of the restaurant and I enjoyed being there, feeling like I have become a part of something historical, artsy and awesome. The camote bread was delicious, very soft and chewy and it went well with the pate. Mama’s soup was perfect for the rainy afternoon that we were having. The vegetables were very fresh and the soup was flavorful without being salty. As for the chocolate, I was a bit underwhelmed. It was made of native tablea as they said, but maybe the carabao’s milk robbed it of the thickness that I came to associat with my native hot chocolate. I felt like I had better hot chocolate back in Calaca, Batangas, hometown of my father, and it was definitely cheaper than that one I had in Cafe By the Ruins. Despite that disappointment, I thought the trip was well worth it. The ambiance was perfect for a rainy day and so was the soup and bread. Plus the table beside us had Angel Aquino. It made for a pretty different experience than I expected.

– We went home after that for a good night’s rest for tomorrow’s 6-hour trip back home to Manila. We watched more of The Rooftop Prince. I didn’t want to go home tomorrow. I’ve fallen in love with Baguio and what it had to offer. Alas, but we must. This was just a vacation and unfortunately it must come to an end. At least I have memories of my visit and the possibility that I could come back sometime in the future.

Baguio June 22-25, 2012 [Day 2]

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– We woke up early to take a walk around. We finally hied ourselves out of the hotel at around 6:30am and by then, the sun was already out. Still, it was cool and it was wonderful to be able to walk around even if it was so early. Walking around Camp John Hay can be quite exhausting, though. I guess it comes with the fact that most of the time, you’re walking up and not on a flat road like I’m used to. The scenery was worth it, however. It was green everywhere and the trees were really, really tall. I couldn’t help the Twilight flashbacks because of the scenery, but that was okay. It made it much more memorable, also funny in a way.

– We were finally able to find Mile High, which is just a stone’s throw away from The Manor. Mile High is the place to go within Camp John Hay to go shopping. The shops weren’t open yet, but you’d probably be impressed at the selection of shops. A lot of brand names are there, including Mango, which probably says something. The only shops open were this souvenir store where we got Noel’s requested pasalubong of a necklace and this restaurant called …Everything Nice.

– Going back to the hotel meant it was time for breakfast. I love a hotel that has a “free” breakfast buffet. Le Monet has a good breakfast buffet and my favorite part of it was the biscuits with mushroom gravy. I don’t think I’ve had biscuits and gravy anywhere else, so I think that’s really a highlight and a plus of this hotel. If possible, I’d love to come back and stay here again.

– We ended up stuffing ourselves so much we had to take a while to rest. It was probably a bad idea to rest too long as I really felt lazy about going out again. I got over it eventually though and we headed down to the city proper to have mass at the Baguio Cathedral. I was so disappointed about the look of the Cathedral. It’s… Pink. I just don’t like the look of it. I like seeing the churches in places I visit and Baguio Cathedral is a letdown.

– The stairs leading down from the Cathedral was so high, I was really scared of slipping. Eventually, there weren’t any accidents and I managed to get down safely. Getting down from the stairs revealed Session Road, the place to be when you’re looking for places to eat or buy all sorts of things. Walking down Session Road with the crowd reminded me of Hong Kong, especially given the cool temperature. I kept expecting to hear people speak Chinese and was surprised every time when they spoke Filipino, haha. We passed by Star Rice, a classic Chinese restaurant that was very well known for its authentic Chinese offerings. Too bad we were still full, so we didn’t stop to eat. We did stop by a stall where they were selling DVDs, though. PFFFT.

– It’s really polluted in the city proper and so it didn’t take long for Mama to hail a taxi so we could go back to Camp John Hay. She found out that there was a way to see Wright Park and The Mansion while going back to the hotel. On the way, we were also able to see a bit of the Teacher’s Camp. I mentioned before that in the hotel, an AC isn’t used. It’s the same thing in taxis. A window was open as we were being driven around and it was enough to keep us cool through the whole scenic ride. Wright Park reminded me of Intramuros, with the long manmade “river”in the middle. The Mansion was the Baguio residence of the President, so obviously it was grand and stately. We were also fortunate that we got to pass the exclusive Baguio Country Club, the first ever country club in the Philippines. As we rode the taxi home through these sites, we were also able to see old American Colonial-style houses. When the Philippines was colonized by the United States, the Americans discovered Baguio and fell in love with it, probably because of the weather and the environment. A lot of them built houses there and so their legacy remained in the old Colonial houses seen most everywhere in Baguio.

 (Unfortunately, we didn’t get to take pictures along Session Road, Wright Park, The Mansion and the Baguio Country Club. Session Road had too many people walking around and we only passed by everything else very quickly. Our picture of Mile High didn’t really appeal to me. It had my face right smack on the side, lol. Too bad, really.)