Friday, October 28, 2005

Live it, love it

My family and I are off to Hong Kong this long weekend. Many instantly assume Disneyland is the reason we're going (we don't plan on going until all the phases are finished; so far only Phase 1 has been completed), but it's actually a half-business trip, half-family shopping vacation. As I told my fellow UCC regular Christian (who incidentally is celebrating his birthday today), you have to make money to spend it. :)

My sister isn't looking forward to the trip as much as I am because she's thoroughly drained from her Interior Design board exams (third and last day of the exams is today). Also, she's not as rabid a shopper as me and my mom, and Hong Kong after all is known for its two most popular activities: shopping and dining. I do know all 5 of us are looking forward to some excellent meals. On one of our previous vacations in Hong Kong, we managed to polish off an entire Peking duck-- just the 5 of us! The waiters practically had roll us away from the table, we were so stuffed. Perhaps we'll try it again this time (I feel full just thinking about it).

I learned that some ICA people will also be in Hong Kong this weekend (Elyse, just text me when you figure out which hotel you're staying in). If any of my more effusive students are reading this, I am imploring you not to scream out "Ms. Lim!!!" if you spot me somewhere (especially inside the hotel, Tarin!). Remember that it may not be common practice in Hong Kong to shriek when you run into an acquaintance. :p

We'll be back on November 1, in time to have a birthday dinner for my brother (yes, he was born on November 1). Until then, this blogger is signing out. Happy long weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

In the eye of the beholder

Our family's favorite weekend haunt, UCC Connecticut, has placed Dove poll placards on their tables, the ones that let you choose between "extra-large" and "extra-sexy", "aging" and "ageless", "flat" and "flattering". They sparked a debate among my family, with my brother and mom insisting on "extra-large" and me defending "extra-sexy". My mom also went for "aging" while I was for "ageless", but my brother said it was relative to how old the woman actually is (his logic: if she's 80, then she looks pretty good for her age; if she's actually 30, then hell yeah she's aging!). However, we all managed to agree on "flat". :p

Margaux, Kat and I had the same conversation topic a week ago when we had coffee at UCC. We wondered if the Dove campaign "for real beauty" has been successful in the way the company envisioned, or if the Filipino market is ruining the entire concept for them. We are a people fixated with physical appearances, and our standards are sometimes unreasonably high (and our colonial mentality doesn't help matters). From the results of at least one of the polls, as reflected on the huge billboard by the Guadalupe bridge, it appears that Filipinos' concept of physical beauty is still pretty narrow (literally): fat just ain't attractive. Margaux suggested that maybe that was the whole point of the Dove campaign, to make the public react to the poll results and go, "she's not THAT large" or "so what if she's flat?" Whatever the people at Dove were thinking, I don't think they're going to be changing the popular notion that "beautiful" refers to young, skinny, busty girls... at least not for the next few generations.

What is "real" beauty anyway? Does such a thing exist, or is it all relative? There was a time when Rubenesque women were considered alluring and waifish women were not. There are cultures wherein dark skin is appreciated as exotic, and skin-whitening products are unheard of. There are men who aren't turned on by butts of J.Lo proportions, but like flat tushes on girls. Factor in socio-cultural influences, including the impact of history and media, and you'll get very diverse ideas of what is beautiful and what is not. Sometimes you just can't explain what makes someone more beautiful to you: for example, I find Queen Latifah gorgeous, while I don't understand Julia Roberts' appeal. Go figure.

Ultimately, I believe it's all a question of personal preference, even if my brother argues that beauty is simply a product of what society in general decides is beautiful. I still think that even in a tribe of people who find big boobs attractive, there will be that one deviant who wants his women as flat as ironing boards. There's no one correct concept of beauty; it changes with time, from culture to culture, and from person to person. Beauty just can't be boxed in, even by idealistic ad campaigns for the "real" thing.

Monday, October 24, 2005

For Elyse, for making me think :)

Teachers are human too.

This is the defense pronounced when a teacher commits a mistake, either inside or outside the classroom. It is also the line laughingly said when a teacher is caught engaging in silliness, having fun, or just exhibiting signs of an actual personality (students seem to have a hard time absorbing the fact that their teachers have lives outside of the school walls). And it is— or at least should be— the reminder given to students when they hurt or offend a teacher in any way.

Come to think of it, teachers are really more human than most people. There is a certain vulnerability to teachers, because they have to open up to and share themselves with hundreds of human beings at a time. Conversely, there is a vitality to them which stems from the ability to live vicariously through those hundreds of others. Teachers have this weakness and this strength simply because theirs is a profession of love… and after all, is there any greater human quality than that of the capacity to love?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A day at the fair

Elyse and I went to the ICA fair yesterday, primarily to see our students and hang out with AP-annex. However, it also involved being roped into spending money/chits at their respective booths. This, in turn, compelled me to put my embarrassing hand-eye coordination on display by playing various games which called for such complex skills such as lobbing golf balls into boxes and fishing for liquid-filled water bottles. Buying 2 ICA buttons from the SC and a notebook from Loida's club booth was not as humiliating.

The variety show was... long. Haha. I guess you know you're aging when you're already yawning in the middle of the third act (and you're thinking, "who's Sponge Cola anyway and why are all these kids screaming their heads off?"). But I had fun even though out of all the bands who performed, I was only familiar with Rivermaya, and only because they performed a bunch of their older songs (to Kat's disappointment, they didn't play Ulan). Anyway I was really there to see the Fyrinx strut their stuff in the fashion show and to watch the Dance Troupe, the Glee Club, and Hands in Harmony perform. I loved this year's concept for the fashion show, featuring real models-- students who serve as role models for other ICAns (so Jen, why weren't the angel wings on you? :p). I was thrilled that one of my seniors from last year, the terrifically talented Mylene Chung, supplied her amazing vocals for 2 numbers with Hands in Harmony. I'd pay good money to watch Mye in concert (so my P300 varie ticket was worth the price, Rivermaya or no Rivermaya).

After the varie, AP-Annex came to my house to unwind and gab about the day's events (and then some... mahaba-habang kwentuhan, haha). We passed the unanimous verdict that the fair and varie were hugely successful this year, in more ways that one (I don't think I've ever seen so many sleeves on ICAns in their civvies!). And we didn't say that just because the SC moderator/APFSA is one of us (love you Shirl!).

All in all it was a Saturday (and several hundred bucks) well spent. I'm just sorry I didn't get to go into the DG Horror Booth to terrorize the actors inside, like Margaux and Lyzet and I did 2 years ago. It's always fun messing with students... I think that's why I enjoy going back to ICA so much. :p

I only managed to take the following pix at the fair:

Ms. Tan heard I was planning on wearing a short skirt to the fair!
someone who makes me wish I had stayed in ICA: SC head honcho ValCon
Ms. Sia's proud proteges/faithful followers

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Greek god cometh

I just got this text from my sister (and I quote): "OMFG!!! Constantine is coming!!! Aaaaaahhhhh!!! :thud:"

Constantine, coming to Manila?!? Constantine "I'm too sexy for this show" Maroulis?!? Excuse me while I go hyperventilate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Somebody stop me!

Last stop on our store visit route this afternoon was The Gateway. After checking our Arrow store, I could have gone home directly, but no. I just had to go up to Fully Booked and take a peek. My original motive was to see if Book 12 of A Series of Unfortunate Events had already come out. When I discovered it wasn't available yet, I could have walked right out, but no. I just had to gravitate towards the "new arrivals" tables and spot the new Candace Bushnell book. After failing miserably to fight the urge to buy it, I could have marched straight to the register and paid for it, but no. I just had to wander around the shelves, browsing through the titles, until my eyes landed on Zorba the Greek. Since I loved The Last Temptation of Christ so much, snatching this other Kazantzakis novel right off the shelf was almost automatic.

And so I left with 2 new books and another Fully Booked receipt which puts me 900 bucks closer to my P15,000 target. At the rate I'm going, I'll probably get the discount card before November.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I turn to them

By nature, I am not a trusting person, so it always surprises me when I find myself opening up to someone, sometimes to the point of spilling out my deepest, darkest secrets (and no, I don't have that many, contrary to what many believe :p). These are the people who listen to me, really listen to me, without judging or questioning me, no matter how unreasonable or weird or nasty I get. Most have known me for years, and continue to put up with me and offer their advice and support, for which I'm grateful (Raqs, Angge, Gerry, Sir Tirol, Auntie Nene, Joy, Kev... although in the case of the latter 2, they have no choice but to put up with me because we're related ;p). But there are a few who start out as casual acquaintances, but after only knowing them a short while, I'm already pouring out my heart and soul to them.

It's rare for me to meet someone who earns my trust immediately for no apparent reason, but it has been known to happen. My friendship with my personal shrink Maddy started out that way, as with my soul sister Bel, when we were thrown together by fate during my half-year in Beijing. But I am most surprised when it happens with a former student (emphasis on "former", because while I was still a teacher, I never confided in my students-- it was, rightly, the other way around). Some of these kids have a special quality about them that makes me forget I'm the older-- and supposedly wiser-- one. And a handful have proven to me just how sensitive, understanding, and mature they can be (not to mention they know how to keep their lips sealed... you guys know who you are ;p). Just goes to show that trust and empathy surpass the boundaries of both age and authority.

So to all my sounding boards out there: thank you for lending an ear, for sharing your time and words of wisdom, for accepting me and all my hang-ups, for knocking sense into me when I need it, and for just being there.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Time crawls when you're flying PAL

Places where one could keel over and die of old age while waiting: government offices/agencies, doctor/dentist clinics… and Philippine Airlines Ticketing Offices. After today, I am never buying plane tickets myself again (so this is what people pay travel agents for: to go through this torture for them).

I went to the PAL Cubao branch this morning to pick up my parents’ e-tickets which I purchased online for them (I ask you, what's the use of buying e-tickets if you have to pick them up personally anyway?? paging the freakin' geniuses at PAL!). Like the conscientious idiot I am, I arrived half an hour before the office opened so I’d be one of the first in line. Unfortunately, that only meant I added a half-hour of waiting to the hour and a half before I actually got called to the counter. To think I was in the express line! Imagine the suffering the poor shmucks in the regular lines have to endure. Apparently, it is not enough that PAL is known as “Plane Always Late”, they want to be known for excruciatingly slow service as well. Aside from the looooong ticketing office lines, it is also an extreme test of patience to get through any of their 24-hour hotlines (no matter during which hour out of the 24 you call, you get put on hold for at least 10 minutes listening to annoying recordings), and their online booking service takes days to send a reply to a simple email (public service warning: don't ever be lured into buying e-tickets online-- it's NOT as convenient as it sounds!).

The quality of service of our flag-carrier is a sad reflection of the efficiency of our people. My experience this morning made me wonder whether Filipinos are innately slow, or just really, really tolerant of long waits.

The upside to all this: I racked up some monster Text Twist points while waiting. Booyah.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Beyond basketball, Benitez and bashing La Salle

I asked myself if it's worth opening the can of worms that is the Benitez blunder. It's so tempting to crack jokes and make snide remarks about La Salle's fall from grace (after all, those Salgado text jokes were helluva funny ;p), but the disgrace our favorite foes are facing now is so humiliating that even this die-hard Atenean has to feel sorry for them. Besides, the manner in which they're handling the whole issue-- coming clean and informing the UAAP board, plus voluntarily forfeiting their 2004 championship crown and their runner-up standing this season-- is so darn apologetic and disgustingly righteous, it's impossible to mock them without sounding spiteful.

But I do have a bone to pick with the way the newspapers are brandishing "scholastic integrity" as the reason La Salle blew the whistle on itself. I do not know the true motives behind their confession, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt and consider that they really did it in the spirit of fair play and honesty. However, I'm not buying all that "scholastic integrity" BS. If they are so concerned about academic integrity, why do they accept students like Benitez in the first place? Even without the forged PEPTCR, the guy looks about as smart as a sofa. Would they have us believe he actually passed the DLSU entrance exam on his own merits?

Now I'm sure La Salle isn't the only school that lowers its admission standards for talented athletes (I have my suspicions that LA Tenorio's shooting average might be a tad higher than his IQ). Everyone knows the perks and special treatment varsity players receive, even-- and perhaps especially-- in esteemed institutions like La Salle and Ateneo. Members of the men's basketball team in particular are spoonfed, pampered and practically worshipped. Recruitment of good basketball players has become both aggressive and reckless; as long as the kid can dribble, pass, and shoot, who cares if he can read, spell, or add? In the middle of this Benitez brouhaha, maybe we're overlooking the real issue: that the quality of students universities are accepting and allowing to graduate from their schools is being compromised for the sake of winning basketball trophies.

I am reminded of a line from a radio advert for the Samuel L. Jackson movie Coach Carter: "...student athlete: student first, athlete second." Schools like La Salle and Ateneo should keep in mind that their being academic institutions should come first, and their being basketball teams a very distant second. That way, no one has to end up forfeiting their championship titles, nor compromising their scholastic integrity.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

This blogger is a bookworm

I am thrilled to no end that the Fully Booked branch in The Promenade is so huge, well-stocked, and near our house. Last week I blew a couple of thousand bucks on books that I just had to get, including Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters (anyone who has read Macbeth will get a kick out of this amusing parody), Wicked, the novel on which the Broadway musical was based (and which Maddy wants to borrow when sem break rolls around), and The Ethics of Star Trek (I'm a Trekkie and a pop philo reader-- something tells me I should be embarrassed, but I'm not :p).

The problem with having Fully Booked so close by is that we go there often, and I have a hard time keeping my book-buying compulsions in check. As it is, the stack of books on my bedside table has grown to such an extent that the table can't hold them all anymore. I am buying books faster than I am finishing reading them. I have yet started on The Chronicles of Narnia, and I am determined to read all 7 volumes before seeing the film adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe this December. My brother, a devout Neil Gaiman acolyte, is shoving his copy of Anansi Boys at me, insisting I bump it up my booklist. Then my sister recently found a copy of The Princess Bride (for those who haven't seen the film adaptation of the same title: you absolutely must go watch it! I have the DVD copy if anyone's interested...), and I am tempted to read it right after I get done with Wyrd Sisters. Not to mention all the eBooks I now have in my Palm.

The simple solution is to stop buying books until I'm through with all the titles I have on hand, but I can't help it. Besides, I found out that I can get a Fully Booked discount card with P15,000 worth of receipts... and I'm now only 6,000 bucks away from discounted book-buying binges... or bankruptcy, whichever comes first.

I'm going to need a bigger bedside table.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Bride of Burton

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…” Tim Burton must have taken this bridal adage to heart when he created his animated feature Corpse Bride. He combined the vocal talents of actors he’s worked with before (old), a novel screenplay with elements of horror, romance, drama, comedy and musical (new), the animation style made famous by his own film Nightmare Before Christmas (borrowed, or at least recycled), and, well, people who turn blue when they die.

Other familiar elements that popped up in the movie: music by Burton’s staple composer Danny Elfman (one of the musical numbers sounded disturbingly like an Oompa-Loompa song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Christopher Lee in a hilarious cameo (this one had him looking like a crazed caricature of his Saruman self), and a chaotic, outlandish netherworld reminiscent of Burton’s Beetlejuice universe. Burton seemed to turn Frankenstein by piecing together bits of his previous films to come up with a new one. But fortunately, instead of a clunky, horrifying creation, he ended up with a sinister/sweet tale about love and death that has a ghoulish grace and macabre beauty about it. Among contemporary filmmakers, Burton is best at creating movies that are chilling and heart-warming at the same time.

Corpse Bride made for an engaging (pun not intended) hour and a half. I have always appreciated good animation, especially when it comes with smart dialogue and an interesting story. And it helps that I’ve always had a taste for the morbid…

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Not so amazing this time around

The latest season of The Amazing Race has begun, and my siblings and I are disappointed that the first two legs of the race have been limited to the US. Part of the fun of the AR is that you get to see different parts of the world and learn bits and pieces about their culture. Also, the challenge of catching earlier flights/overcoming delayed flights is missing from the more blase road trips.

However, this season is still pretty interesting because the producers decided to do a "family edition" this time. It's fascinating to observe the different dynamics among the teams, depending on their relationships and ages. Here are my favorite teams so far:
  • the Gaghan family - You'd think bringing along a 9-year-old would be a big disadvantage, but these folks are actually doing pretty well. The parents are not that old, the kids are cute but smart (and not whiny), and man that little girl can run! "Wheels, Carissa, wheels!"
  • the Aiello family - The father and sons-in-law combination amuses me, and it seems to be working for them. The 3 guys seem physically fit, and their collective strength compensates for their overweight father-in-law's weakness. Plus, the 3 seem to be very considerate of the old man, and it's very sweet to see all that male bonding.
  • the Linz family - This is the team to beat, in my opinion. They have 3 able-bodied guys and a girl, all twentysomethings so they have no oldie to slow them down. So far the sister has managed to keep up with her brothers. I can't tell if she's smart but at least they have a female brain working alongside their male brawn. And siblings (especially in the absence of parental supervision) tend to work together better than parents and children. The banter among them is fun to watch. I hope they stick around for a while.
And then there are the teams who are getting on my nerves this early in the race:
  • the Godlewski family - Dubbed "The Desperate Housewives," these 4 sisters are actually pretty competent (and like the Linz family they have that sibling thing going for them), but their high-pitched voices and ditzy screaming are intolerable.
  • the Weaver family - I realize I'm about to bash a widow and her children, and I'm sorry if I'm a bitch (well, ok, I'm not sorry really :p), but if these guys were Pinoy they'd be jologs. Seriously, what respectable person drives with one leg up and their foot on the seat? What respectable girl (in shorts!) drives with one leg up and their foot on the seat?! And to add to that I think they're bleeding Christians. I can't stand overzealous religious folk (yes, I'm going to burn in hell when I die).
  • the Paolo family - Two impertinent teenage sons, a nagging mom, and a dad who does nothing. They can't seem to communicate with one another except by yelling. I want to smack the kids for being such rude brats and the parents for letting their sons verbally abuse them. Americans.

I miss my favorite AR team, Colin and Christie. "My ox is broken!!" Classic.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Accessories, accessories

Now that I have my T5 back, I uploaded nifty new stuff to get the most out of it, like eBooks and games, courtesy of Diane and Michelle, two of my classmates from high school and fellow Palm users. They burned me CDs containing so many files that I may never have to buy regular books again (but as Michelle and I conceded, there's nothing like holding a thick paperback in your hands). I am now once again addicted to the same computer game (called the Same Game-- haha, no seriously!) my officemates and I couldn't stop playing back when I was still at Philamlife. I also have Text Twist (hurray!) and Monopoly (another Philam pasttime) and a whole bunch of other games Diane thought I'd enjoy (thank you Palm guru!). To add to my PDA's entertainment value, I updated my mp3 list to include songs I can't get out of my head recently: "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers, "Dust" by Van Hunt and "What About Everything" by Carbon Leaf. And in case anyone's wondering, yes, I am still using the Palm to keep track of my schedule and daily tasks. :p

Aside from my Palm, lately I’ve been over the moon about another accessory I acquired last month: a Nine West bag. It’s brown (the hangtag said “espresso,” how yummy is that?), suede with leather straps, and comes with a coin purse (in brown suede too!) and a bunch of keychains (in the shape of keys, hehe) that jangle merrily when I carry the bag. I first saw it sitting on a shelf in Rustan’s Makati while I was shopping with my mom. It was love at first sight. And when I fall in love with a bag, it’s serious. The last bag I fell head over heels for was a small white Lacoste canvas cutie that I saw my student Kyla the Lacoste lady bring to the Xavier fair’s variety show last year. I had my mom hunt one down for me in Bangkok since the Lacoste stores here did not have it in stock anymore (now I see it on display again at their Podium branch). My mom bought the Nine West bag for me too (because she could get a bigger discount with cash, and I didn’t have enough on me that day), although she couldn’t understand why I was so enamored with it. I brought it home, placed it on my bed and asked my sister brightly, “Isn’t it pretty?” She completely ignored me, of course, and she still does when I do it again from time to time, even after having used the bag more than a dozen times. I realize how materialistic I sound (right, Tarin? wink wink, nudge nudge), but bags are one of the few luho I have, so you’ll have to forgive me (I asked Raqs what the English term for luho is and apparently there is no direct translation ;p).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Intrams images

Finally, I got these pix posted! :)

Team Fyrinx
Huddle/photo op
with my darling Openness players: Kyla, Tarin, and Bern
Mother and child? Ms. Pe with Gra
with my CS officers Jen Ong and Tasha
Squished by Sobriety (hey, camera's over here, guys!)
2 of Bern's biggest fans: Ms. Lim and Momma D
with Sab in the HSCC
with Reg, Chay and Ramos in the DTASC
with dancing duo Tiff Hong and Agui
the incredible ICA Dance Troupe (spot the alumna!)
You go, B.Li!
Alexis luuuvs Ms. Tria
with a tired but triumphant Tarin and a grinning Goyong
clowning around with Kri (with help from Ms. Cua and Ms. Pe's fingers)
with Shobe Tarinski
with athlete/poet/photographer Joy Sy
Ms. Cua, Ms. Pe, Ms. Lim with Joy Sy and TarinFyrinx win! Group hug!

Monday, October 03, 2005

There goes another weekend...

Friday: spent the entire day conducting store visits of our outlets that were having a 3-day sale (Metro Market! Market!, SM Las Pinas, SM Manila, SM Cubao, the Gateway); was at the Podium from 5PM to 12:30AM, monitoring our sales, helping our sales assistants, and keeping an eye out for shoplifters; was wearing the new Fyrinx batch shirt all day (it's so nice, my sister wants to steal it from me), but did not get to go to ICA to watch the Intrams championship game between the Fyrinx and Xygenz, where the Fyrinx emerged victorious (however, as I told some of my students, better I missed a win than a loss-- I'd have been more needed in the latter scenario... celebrating, they can handle on their own ;p)

Saturday: woke up early to go to Pampanga for another store visit (waking up early on a weekend is almost physically painful for this pathological sleeper); went back to the Podium to check on things; met up with Maddy and "Mr. Fred" at Fully Booked Promenade where we ran into some-- a lot-- of students; had coffee/tea and delightful intellectual conversation with Mads and Fred at Coffee Bean; went back to the Promenade later that night to have dinner with my high school barkada at Little Asia and dessert at Annabel Lee afterwards; got home at 1AM and found out my brother didn't win the U2 concert tix, nor the U2 iPod (bummer)

Sunday: got yanked out of bed by my sister so that I could catch the rerun of The Tonight Show where Constantine [insert shamefully girly squeal here] sang Bohemian Rhapsody with the cast of the Queen Broadway musical "We Will Rock You"; watched the afternoon rerun of CSI Miami, then was about to begin another marathon Star Trek: TNG session with my sibs when our parents announced we were going back to the Podium; spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the Podium helping at the cash register, assisting customers, and running into students left and right (plus a co-teacher who popped up in front of me while I was in NBS buying supplies ;p)

Can I please be a couch potato next weekend?