Monday, May 29, 2006

Pre-Bangkok blog post

My surrogate shobs Tarin had her debut last Saturday at the Manila Peninsula Conservatory. Maddy and Kat and I went together, and together we were ambushed by the debutante, who surprised us with pretty fondant cakes (chocolate inside! yummy!), but not without impromptu birthday messages in return. I was in the middle of taking a photo of Tarin standing at the lectern, when she suddenly started saying, “First of all, thank you to Costumes-R-Us…” and I almost dropped my digicam in shock when it registered that she was talking about me. Not only was I the first one ambushed (so I had absolutely no time to prepare), my wonderful friends both decided to just say “Ms. Lim said it all” to pass off as their messages. :p Dinner was delish, the red wine was good, Tarin’s vanity video was hilarious (with our pix included), and the 3 of us teachers kept ourselves entertained by criticizing the Xavier boys in attendance and passing sartorial judgment on their formal attire (I can’t stand seeing guys in ill-fitting suits and shirts and ugly ties). I guess we really are too old to be attending debuts. ;)
* * *

Thanks to the DVD copies Fara gave me, my House addiction has kicked in once more, and this time it’s fiercer than ever. Season 2 is livelier, funnier, and crazier, with more romance and drama than the previous season. With each episode I manage to squeeze into my insanely busy sched, I find myself marveling at Hugh Laurie’s deep reservoir of talent (or is it psychoses?) as his Dr. Gregory House becomes increasingly meaner, madder, and inconceivably sexier. In this season House shows more frequent flashes of humanity from beneath his cold, callous, Cowellish exterior, especially when his barely concealed feelings for old flame Stacy get the better of him. The sarcastic, witty verbal exchanges between him and the other characters are so razor-sharp they should come with warning labels: keep out of reach of children… and adults with low IQs who are incapable of appreciating intelligent dialogue. I can’t get enough of this series, and I hope it has a long TV life ahead of it… or I may just develop a real Vicodin addiction to help me deal with the pain of its loss.
* * *

From May 30 to June 3, I will be in Bangkok for the nth time (and for those envious of my jet-setting lifestyle, I’m telling you, it’s not as glamorous or fun as it sounds). Expect complete blog silence ‘til my return. Over and out.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

And the winner is...


The Silver Fox of Soul has prevailed in Season 5 of American Idol, and I couldn't be more thrilled! *does a little Taylor dance* Not only is he the first guy to beat a girl in the finals, he's also the first white guy to win AI, AND he did it without ever landing in the bottom 3! From his audition in Vegas all the way to his last performances in the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, I just loved, loved, loved Taylor's buoyant energy and infectious spirit. True, his vocals aren't as strong as Katharine McPhee's, and he's not as hot as Chris Daughtry, but Taylor has unique stage presence-- and the crazy dance moves and ugly jackets are all part of the package (Simon can sneer all he want, I don't care!). No other Idol is as enjoyable to watch as Taylor, and I am haphaphappy that he won. His will be the first AI solo album that I'll buy (the real deal too, not pirated! :p). I'm a Soul Patroller for life! Woo!

P.S. Read this great blog post about Taylor and why he won, by my fellow Hicks fan and newfound blog buddy enuhski. =D

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


My cousin Abeth is currently based in Cambridge, taking her MBA. Our grandparents, along with our di-ku and his family (including my 5-year-old cousin Gillian), are over there visiting her. Meanwhile, my cousin Abi is now in Germany working for Volkswagen (say it with me now: Folksvagen ;p). Abi's brother Kevin is planning to go to the UK in August, with a side trip to Germany to see his sister. Abeth is also intending to maximize her Schengen visa by traveling around Europe before she comes home late this year.

Hearing tales of my cousins' experiences in Europe and opportunities for travel/sight-seeing around the continent just depresses me... especially when I take into account that my 5-year-old cousin has stepped foot on European soil, and I haven't. Perhaps my sulking seems a bit melodramatic, but going to Europe has always been on my list of top 3 things to do before I die (have already done #1, teaching; #2, writing/publishing a book, is still a far-off dream). People always assume that a seasoned traveler such as myself has already been to Europe, but sadly it is not true, and the assumption only depresses me further.

Frustratingly enough, I was supposed to accompany my grandparents to Cambridge to see Abeth. Unfortunately, the trip coincided with the Mall of Asia opening so I had to ask di-ku to cancel my booking (sob, sob). Abeth's sister Amuy addressed me in an email to our cousin YahooGroup, encouraging me to plan my own trip and telling me about a friend of hers our age who used up all her savings traveling around Europe for 4 weeks. I replied to her with this:

"sigh, i'm afraid i don't have the same luxury as your friend. i can't exactly up and leave for 4 weeks. my bosses (i.e. my folks) would kill me. kidding aside, i do feel tied to the family business now, not unwillingly, but really committed to it. so it's impossible to indulge my wanderlust without abandoning my duties and obligations, even temporarily. not that i'm an indispensable part of the company or anything, but i just don't want to leave my parents hanging when they need me around. plus, they've invested a lot in our new office building so i can't exactly throw all my savings down the tube traipsing around europe, as tempting as that sounds."

I realize I may have sounded like a bleeding martyr, but I really meant what I wrote in that email. A huge part of me is now bound to our company so tightly that I sometimes find it easy, natural even, to shelve some of the things I want for the sake of the business. I don't know if it means that I'm finally becoming passionate about what I'm doing now (I still maintain passion is both my best and worst quality), or that I'm beginning to weigh things like a practical businessperson. Maybe it's both.

My mom says I'm not a born entrepreneur, that I have very little business sense and that I'll always be an intellectual/academic at heart. I agree. But I also think I have enough of HER business sense in me, and the little that I have is now drawn to the work I'm doing. Besides, this isn't just about work, this is about my family too, and I will always, always be passionately devoted to them. More than teaching. More than writing. More than Europe.

But dammit, someday, SOMEday, I'll make it there. ;p

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lucky me

What a way to jumpstart my week. I was on my way out of the house, in my usual work morning semi-stupor, when my cell phone rang. It was a landline number I didn’t recognize, so I picked it up expecting a work-related call. Instead it was Vito, my favorite DJ from my favorite radio station KLITE 103.5, calling to tell me I had won 4 CDs for betting on the right tandem to win the Amazing Race 9. For a few seconds I was dumbfounded, because a) Vito was calling me, b) I NEVER win anything, and c) he was asking if he could put me on air. So for 10 minutes I was on the radio talking about how I loved that the Hippies won, the priceless dejected look on the Frat Boys’ faces when they came in second, and Phil’s barely disguised mirth over their defeat. By the time I put down the phone, I was in a daze again. I won a radio contest! I had been happy enough that the Hippies won, so this was really an extra treat. Here’s hoping my luck holds out until Thursday, when AI results are announced. *crosses fingers*

* * *
Flashback to Saturday, Mall of Asia opening: The day passed by in a busy, tiring blur. We got to MoA around 10AM, did some last-minute preparations in our 2 stores. At 11AM Archbishop Rosales celebrated Mass (which we skipped), and around 12NN GMA arrived for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting (boo, hiss!). We went to the department store to check on our 4 areas, then grabbed a quick lunch at Congo Grill. At 2PM my aunt brought a priest to our 2 stores for our own store blessings (standing right in front of the priest, I got splattered in the face with Holy Water, and I immediately thought of the Wicked Witch of the West screaming "I'm meltiiinnnggg..."). I attended to hordes of customers in our Ep shop until roughly 5PM, then we went to the Hypermarket to check on our 2 areas there. By the time we clambered wearily into our car to go home, the straps of my normally comfy Hush Puppies heels had seared painful lines onto my feet. The exhaustion was eased by the gratification brought about by our excellent sales that day, and getting to see, speak with and shake hands with Marc Nelson again, wehehe.
* * *
All right, you knew it had to be coming. It's time to write my inevitable review of The DaVinci Code, the movie that has the world talking and Christendom in a fit. Aside from my low regard for the Catholic Church and other religious fanatics, I find it laughable that there's so much hype and controversy surrounding the movie, when the same furor didn't seem to exist during the time Dan Brown's book was published. Ah, the power of Hollywood.

But I don't even want to talk about the brouhaha plaguing (or boosting?) the film. I just want to talk about the movie itself, and how it was much better than the book (there you go, Fara ;p). I didn't enjoy the book that much because quite frankly I think Dan Brown's writing sucks. His narration always states the obvious, and is peppered with so many bits of betcha-didn't-know trivia that he comes off sounding like a pompous know-it-all. So the movie was a huge improvement because it took Brown's characters and plot, the elements that made his book bearable and even enjoyable despite his poor style, and used them as ingredients for an entertaining suspense flick. It made me forget why I didn't like the book in the first place. The casting was most superb, and the supporting characters especially gave outstanding performances that almost eclipsed Tom Hanks's well-modulated turn as hero Robert Langford. Paul Bettany and the great Ian McKellen, in my opinion, deserved the most applause for nuanced but powerful acting in their roles as scary albino Silas and crafty scholar Teabing, respectively. It was also nice to see Audrey Tautou in a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster-- this pretty madamoiselle has more talent in her left pinky than most American starlets have in their silicone-enhanced racks.

One more thing I loved about DaVinci: it was rated R-18, so there were no noisy kids in the audience. So thank you, uptight Catholic censors. Now that's what I call a blessing in disguise.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hicks, Hippies, hurray!

It's kinda crazy at work this week, what with the Mall of Asia opening this weekend (FINALLY), and us preparing for 2 boutiques (Arrow on the ground floor, Ep Espada on the second floor, both on the left side of the main mall) and 5 department store corners (Arrow, Arrow Woman, Sahara, Wall Street and Criterion). So I only have a few lunch break minutes to spare to scribble this quick, exuberant entry:

Taylor's in the AI finals!! WOO! Murder McPhee!!

BJ and Tyler won the Amazing Race 9!! Ta-tao! Frat Boys eat Hippie dust!

Now back to work. *grumble grumble*

Monday, May 15, 2006

That wasn't so bad...

Normally I loathe attending weddings of family friends, especially with my mom, since she enjoys hobnobbing and I enjoy it as much as root canal. Frankly, I find the pleasantries and pretentions tiresome, and the effort of putting on a nice dress, fixing my hair and applying makeup is a big bother. Worse still is if the wedding takes place in the province, giving me extra troubles like figuring out how to pack my dress without it getting all wrinkly, making room in a small suitcase for a shoebox containing my party shoes, and safely transporting expensive jewelry.

But this time around, I actually enjoyed my overnighter in Cagayan de Oro for Sandy Gaisano's wedding (May 14), primarily due to the fun company I had. Ironically enough, I was saved from silly social graces and painful plastic exchanges by family friends, more specifically their daughters. Aside from sisters Susan and Angela, who are always a riot to be with, loud boisterous voices and all, I hung out with sisters-in-law Cherry and Ivy (who are also old friends of Susan and Angela), and the surprise treat of the trip, Shereen Yao, an ICAn (Zephyrz batch) who was supposed to have been my student had she not left for Singapore to study. Shereen was a blast to be with because a) she reminded me of my students, who never fail to energize me, and Shereen was no different; b) she is one of very few ICAns (my students' age at least) I can talk to in Taglish and even a sprinkling of Fookienese; c) she doesn't call me Ms. Lim or " 'cher"; and d) she's a very sweet, smart and outgoing girl. I felt sorry that I never got to be her teacher, but maybe it was a belated blessing in disguise, because I don't think a former student would have been able to save me from what I thought would be a trying, torturous 2 days in CDO.

P.S. Congratulations to my brother, 1st runner-up in the Mercedes Trophy golf tournament, Class A division! *proud atsi applause*

Thursday, May 11, 2006


2 things left me at a loss for words today. First, at SM Clark's blessing/soft opening this afternoon, we got introduced to Marc Nelson, SM Department Store's new men's wear model. Now anyone who knows me knows my complete lack of interest in local showbiz/celebrities. But daaaammmnn, Marc Nelson is CUTE. So cute, that while he and my parents exchanged pleasantries, I just stood there not saying anything, grinning like an idiot, listening to the gorgeous tones of his faint Australian accent. When my mom told me to give him a business card, I snapped out of my dazed starstruck/teenybopper adulation long enough to tell him, "If you ever need some shirts, just give us a call." However, I still had enough self-respect left to refuse to have a photo taken with him. :p

Second silencer for the day was Chris Daughtry's shocking, premature exit from AI. Fara, a devoted Daughtry darling, relayed the news to me this morning through text
in a state of anguish. I couldn't believe it. I had either Elliot or McPhee pegged to go. McPhee certainly deserved to go, given her lousy renditions of Elvis classics the previous night. At least Elliot gave the best performances of the night, so I have no complaints about his staying (indeed, I'm quite happy for the funky faun). But CHRIS?? Tragic, just tragic. I really thought he'd win this thing. Now it's up to my boy Taylor. All together now: SOUL PATROL!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Beautiful day, 2006

Last year, as I was in the throes of agony over Constantine Maroulis' untimely departure from AI season 4, I was rescued from the bottom of the pit of my despair by my dear friend and fellow AI addict Fara. She surprised me with a self-compiled VCD of all of Con's performances. I remember how touched and delighted I was by her gift, and how grateful for having such an incredibly sweet and thoughtful friend.

She did it again.

And I wasn't even depressed! Yesterday afternoon, I was already in a good mood, owing to my student Pam, who so graciously volunteered to burn me discs of Grey's Anatomy Season 2 (love and hugs, Pamy!). But then my mood got a second boost when I got home, when I saw a square package inside a Ziploc bag (dead giveaway it's from Fara the Bag Lady) sitting innocuously on my desk. That's odd, I thought. I didn't miss AI last week, so why did Fara burn me a CD? (yep, she burns me CDs of eps I miss =D) I picked up the package and found that it was thicker than just one CD. Curious, I opened the bag, and when I saw what it contained I almost screamed out loud: DVD copies of HOUSE, SEASON 2!! Fara, the big nut, wasted precious hours burning me copies from the DVDs her dad had given her last week, even before watching a single episode herself! And since Fara is the OC perfectionist she is, she had designed and printed House stickers for the CD faces too. How awesome a friend is that?!?

And so to Fara-- OC Bag Lady, fellow fangirl, and super amazingly thoughtful friend-- a huge THANK YOU from the bottom of my AI-addled, House-hooked, black-hat heart. =D

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The real barbarians

"It was eleven a.m. and she was still at home, still in her Chinese blue silk pajamas imprinted with humorous drawings of small dogs. Which might in itself be some kind of insider Chinese joke, she thought, because there was nothing the Chinese loved more than eating man's best friend."

I came across this passage in Candace Bushnell's latest novel, Lipstick Jungle. I reread the last line in disbelief, feeling severely slighted on behalf of millions of my fellow Chinese. Where the hell does Bushnell get off painting Chinese as savages who like chowing down on canines? Just because she was the brains behind pop-culture phenomenon Sex and the City doesn't give her the right to turn her snooty nose up at what she perceives to be less civilized cultures. I can't believe her editors and publisher let that blatantly racist line go into print.

Bushnell's offending words reminded me of the case of poor
Luc Cagadoc, the Filipino child in Montreal who was reprimanded by school officials for eating with a fork and a spoon, instead of "the Canadian way", using a fork and a knife. The principal even told Luc's parents that their son eats "like a pig", and that intelligent people eat with a fork and a knife. When I saw this story in the news, I was aghast at the cruelty and racism of people who are supposedly forming young minds and instilling values in them. I fully sympathize with Luc's parents, who have already filed a complaint against the school, and I whole-heartedly support all efforts of the Filipino community in Montreal who are demanding an apology from the school's ignorant and insensitive principal. It riles me further that the Canadian embassy here in Manila has issued a statement saying the Montreal case is "an isolated incident", without so much an attempt at an apology on behalf of their callous compatriots.

The trouble with people from first-world countries is that they tend to be very egocentric, and taken collectively, it is always in danger of leading to ethnocentricity. Anything alien or foreign to their cultural practices and traditions are deemed strange, unnatural, and even barbaric. Their way is the best way; their way is the only way. Once someone deviates from that way, then they are condemned, just like Luc (who is now too traumatized to go back to school). When will these arrogant bastards realize that just because they have a stronger economy or better social services or greater military might doesn't mean they're always right? Just because they rule the world doesn't mean they ARE the world. Millions and millions of Asians eat with chopsticks, does that make all of us less intelligent? Filipinos eat with a fork and a spoon, which actually leaves us with cleaner plates and less wasted food, is that so "disgusting"? And so what if some of us do eat dog meat? The French eat cow's brains and snails all the time, how are dogs worse?

If you ask me, picking on a 7-year-old who uses a different utensil-- THAT's disgusting. And assuming that all Chinese love nothing better than feasting on Fido? That's just plain stupid.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The chemistry of Anatomy

I came home from Singapore/KL to an empty house because my parents and brother were in Punta Fuego for the long Labor Day weekend. Sweltering heat aside, the peace and quiet was sheer bliss after the frenetic week I had had. After unpacking all my things, I holed out in my parents' room with take-out salad and pasta, cranked up the air-conditioning, and watched the entire first season of Grey's Anatomy in one sitting.

Having been deprived of new House episodes for so long (blast you, AXN, gimme my Vicodin NOW!), Grey's Anatomy came into my TV-viewing life as an intoxicating breath of fresh medical-series air. Before I watched the first episode, I had this notion that the show centered on Patrick Dempsey's character, since he seems to be getting all the attention, positive press, and award nominations. Turns out he just plays a supporting role to Ellen Pompeo's Meredith Grey, the Alley McBeal-esque protagonist, the intern who gets into a tricky relationship with her attending, Derek Shepherd a.k.a. Dr. McDreamy (which he SO is). Though I don't exactly adore Meredith, as she tends to be whiny and erratic, the romance between her and Shepherd is really, really HOT.

But what makes Grey's Anatomy all the more addictive is the great dynamic among the other supporting characters. Sandra Oh, who plays feisty, competitive intern Cristina Yang, a cross between House and Ling from Ally McBeal (and therefore my favorite character of the show), gets hot and heavy with Isaiah Washington's quietly forceful Preston Burke, another attending surgeon (and yes, Jen, he jumped up a hundred notches on the sexiness meter midway through the season ;p). Katherine Heigl plays the lovable, soft-hearted blond beauty Izzie Stevens, who I suspect will one day get involved with cocky bad boy Alex Karev, played by Justin Chambers. The love/hate banter and loaded looks between the two have to be leading somewhere. Then there's T.R. Knight's pitiful pushover George O'Malley, token long-suffering guy best friend who's secretly in love with the leading lady, and a wonderful foil to all the strong female characters surrounding him. And last but definitely not the least, resident Miranda "the Nazi" Bailey, played with much acerbic aplomb by Chandra Wilson, is the cold shower to the sizzling passions raging inside Seattle Grace Hospital.

The characters of Grey's Anatomy are a smart, spirited, and sexy bunch, which appeals to more intellectual viewers, but at the same time their quirks and flaws make them endearing and engaging. Admittedly, the writing isn't as sharp as House's, the medical cases aren't as educational, and there are times when all the doctors (save the Nazi) begin to look like unprofessional, love/sex-starved maniacs. But this show is one that is driven by the personalities of its characters more than intelligent storylines or snappy one-liners. The heart of Grey’s Anatomy is precisely that: heart. And I for one have fallen head over heels for it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Vacation reflection

On the day my friends and I left for Singapore, I ran into a family friend at the airport. He asked me where I was headed, and then followed it up with the usual question: "Business?" And I took great satisfaction in being able to give the unusual reply, "No, vacation!", delivered with a bright grin.

Of course at the time, I was still hopping with excitement, anticipating a week of fun R&R. 6 days later, on our last night in KL, as we were wearily stuffing our suitcases with the spoils of shopping, I was actually looking forward to going home to a massage and a long, uninterrupted night's sleep.

Why is it that the word "vacation" evokes mental images of calm and relaxation, when in reality it is one of the most taxing and stressful activities we human beings are mad enough to undertake? The traveling itself wreaks havoc with our system, whether it's by air, sea or land. Then walking long distances on tours or shopping sprees is murder on our feet. Adjusting to climate and time changes also takes its toll, and lousy hotel rooms, bad food, crooked locals and inept tour guides don't make things any more enjoyable. We come home from vacations more worn out and tired than when we first set out. So why do we even bother?

Because sometimes we get upgraded to business class. Because we get to show off our multi-lingual talents. Because we get to know some interesting people in tour groups. Because we get to meet up with relatives who live abroad. Because we get to practice our math skills by multiplying the exchange rate in our heads over and over. Because we get to take silly photographs in front of famous monuments. Because we get to see exotic wildlife and spectacular sunsets. Because we get to scope out cute guys while waiting in long lines. Because we get to ride Asia's first hang-gliding rollercoaster. Because we get to go up the world's second tallest building. Because we get to sample local delicacies and desserts. Because we get to buy loads of pasalubong for family and friends.

And because, at the end of it all, we get to come home to what's familiar and safe and beloved. To a country that may not be as progressive or clean or safe as its neighbors, but is and will always be where we belong. To the sights, sounds and smells of a city that are warm, friendly and comfortable. To people who speak, think and behave like us, and who will listen to us rant and rave about our escapades abroad.

The overweight luggage, the overpriced souvenirs, the aching muscles, the sleep deprivation, the grungy hotel towels, the rotten taxi drivers, the confusing maps, the alien menus are the price we pay for exposure to different cultures, unique experiences in foreign environments, and a deeper appreciation of our own distinct identity and rich heritage as a people and as a nation.

Bring on the next exciting, exhausting, excruciating vacation.