Thursday, January 31, 2008

How do you like them Afflecks?

Ok, so maybe Ben Affleck did help write the Good Will Hunting screenplay after all.

If his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone is any indication, then it turns out there's brains and talent to be found in the same guy who top-billed in bombs like Gigli and Paycheck. And talent must run in the family, as his baby brother proves. Casey Affleck, whose biggest claim to fame until now has been a supporting role in Ocean's 11, 12 and 13, stars in Gone Baby Gone as a young idealistic private detective hired to help find a missing little girl. The screenplay was co-written by Ben (maybe someday he'll write something all by himself, eh?), and despite a twisty plot, the story holds together with admirable
coherence and manages to be compelling throughout. The younger Affleck shows some impressive acting chops as the ethically challenged hero, who finds himself embroiled in a case that involves kidnapping, drugs and police corruption, set in the Afflecks' native Boston.

The supporting cast, headed by the reliable Morgan Freeman and give-him-an-Oscar-already Ed Harris, all turn in solid performances, particularly Amy Ryan, who's already been nominated for the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards and the Oscars for playing the drug-addled mother of the missing girl. Whether or not these good performances were drawn out by competent direction from Ben, I don't know, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I also appreciated how his love for Boston is made apparent by revealing both the grassroots charm and the social ills of the city: Ben's Beantown is working middle class, with a strong sense of community, and struggling against the negative forces threatening its values system and way of life... just like his film's protagonist.

I've been a Matt woman ever since Good Will Hunting, and my regard for Ben just hasn't been the same since he started started dating J.Lo. But with Gone Baby Gone, he has redeemed himself, and regained my respect. Let's just hope he doesn't decide to make Gigli 2.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

TARA, let's... not

The Amazing Race Asia is now accepting audition tapes for their 3rd season. For weeks now my dad has been half-joking that we (meaning he and I) should try out, that we could be just like the father-daughter tandem of Ron and Christina from The Amazing Race Season 12. Every Thursday, while watching TARA, he'd enthusiastically reiterate his suggestion, blowing bubbles faster than I can burst them. Never mind that I can't drive a stickshift (I can barely drive an automatic), or that I have weak knees AND a heart condition, or that I have no sense of direction whatsoever. Never mind that he complains about walking long distances, or that he gets low blood sugar attacks, or that he has practically no tolerance for cold temperatures. And never mind that we'll probably lose our tempers with each other (me being a know-it-all control freak, him being a pessimistic worrywart) within the first 10 minutes of running the race. No, in the face of everything we have going against us, my dad still seems to have visions of Allan Wu (too) cheerfully announcing "Benito and Aileesa, you are team number one!" dancing in his head.

Delusions of reality TV grandeur (and annoying host) aside, we're all enjoying keeping tabs on TARA, primarily because we're rooting for Marc and Rovilson. Ok, so maybe I'm rooting for them for reasons totally different from my family's (although I suspect my mom is harboring a secret crush on Marc, because every episode, she never fails to remark on how good-looking and "mabait" he is -- that's the closest thing my mom has ever come to gushing). In any case, we all want them to win this thing. It actually came as a relief when they came in 2nd to the Singaporean guys in the last leg, because their 7-leg winning streak was becoming scary: if a team is so obviously dominant,
the law of averages tends to catch up with them towards the end (think Frat Boys from Season 9, which the Hippies ended up winning). I'd rather Marc and Rovilson lose a few legs along the way and win the race in the end, rather than keep winning all the way only to lose at the finish line.

Will end this post with some TARA chismis: I have it from a reliable inside source that not only are Rovilson and Vanessa (the prettier of the Malaysian sisters) an item, but Marc and Paula (the prettier of the Thai girls) are dating too. The latter couple was reported to have gone whale shark-diving in Donsol earlier this month, and recently made the rounds of Manila's radio stations for some interviews. I think they make an almost absurdly attractive
pair (conceded despite my seething envy).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I'm in love with a dorky accountant!

Move over, McDreamy. The sweetest, cutest romantic lead on TV is Ugly Betty's Henry, the bespectacled, sweater vest-wearing, trivia-spouting dork from Accounting (played by Christopher Gorham). He's smart, funny, chivalrous, and disarmingly charming in a shy little boy way. I never thought I'd get so kilig watching a show with the word "ugly" in the title. Every time Henry appears, I break out into a smile, and I get giddy whenever he and Betty share a moment where the chemistry between them is made wonderfully obvious.

Henry aside, I love this series and all its fun, feisty characters. America Ferrera is perfect as Betty Suarez, the, um, aesthetically and sartorially challenged assistant to Mode magazine's EIC, Daniel Meade,
the wealthy playboy with a heart of gold, played with a surprising likability by Eric Mabius. Vanessa Williams is outstanding as conniving creative director Wilhelmina Slater, filling the role of antagonist with delicious diva flair, reminiscent of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Then there are my favorites, Marc (Michael Urie), Wilhelmina's bitchy gay assistant, and Justin (Mark Indelicato), Betty's irrepressibly gay nephew. They're the ones who always make me laugh out loud, with their catty comments and fabulous flamboyance. Betty's sarcastic Scottish seamstress friend Christina (Ashley Jensen) is also a hoot, as is Marc's slutty, superficial sidekick/partner-in-crime Amanda (Becki Newton). Betty's father (Tony Plana) and sister (Ana Ortiz) are great supporting characters as well, serving as effective and endearing foils to the perpetually stressed and distressed heroine.

But Henry is the most adorable of them all. =D

More geek love:

I'm a Trekker, and proud of it, so I'm not embarrassed to admit that when I saw this trailer, I got goosebumps.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Professional pimping

Last night, I caught a rerun of ANC's Shop Talk, where the guest was a certain architect named Isidro (Agot's brother, as it turned out). He was being interviewed by Pinky Webb on the topic of house-hunting, and at one point, she announced that they would be flashing photos of residences designed by Arch. Isidro. Before they could, however, he hurried to say that since it would be self-serving and unethical to show off his work, he would only be using the photos as visual aids in discussing various architectural styles of houses.

What Arch. Isidro said reminded me of a conversation I had with my friends Raqs and Angge. We were in Dex's car on our way to dinner at Yuujin when we passed by a law office along Wilson St., with a lighted sign boldly declaring that the firm specializes in handling inheritance disputes. Both Atty. Chong and my best friend the law student commented that it was unethical of a law firm to advertise itself in that manner. I expressed my surprise, because I hadn't been aware that lawyers aren't allowed to promote themselves or their services. In hindsight, I surmise that's why ambulance-chasers are sneered at by people in the legal profession.

I now wonder if the same code of ethics applies to doctors, because I've heard my mom once remark that some individuals from the field of medicine are questioning the appropriateness of the huge billboards for Dr. Vicky Belo's clinics. But then if Belo's in the wrong, isn't the American Eye Center similarly culpable for those big banners on the walls of Shangri-la Plaza? I also recently saw a 2-page magazine ad for
the Gan Advanced Osseointegration Center
, which operates posh dental clinics around the metro. Perhaps private practices are exempt from observing certain provisions in their code of ethics. Another legal eagle friend, Yang, tells me that while law firms aren't considered separate entities from the individual lawyers who comprise it (and I'm assuming the same goes for accounting and architecture firms), hospitals and schools ARE; hence, the latter can advertise, but the former can't. Yet, following the same principle behind the provision from the lawyers' Code of Professional Responsibility (more info from Atty. Quimson), then ideally, shouldn't all professionals-- doctors, dentists, accountants, engineers, teachers, etc.-- be bound by the same rule? They shouldn't be advertising their services or skills, because they're not merchants selling their wares. In short, they're not pushing a product, but practicing a profession.

Which brings me now to the question, where do we draw the line between business and profession? One might argue that a lawyer or doctor's profession IS his trade, the primary source of his livelihood. Doesn't that give him the right to pimp himself?
If entrepreneurs can profit from brandishing their products to the public, then why can't professionals do the same for their services? A man's got to make a living, after all, and from a capitalist perspective, I understand and sympathize. But there really is something inherently distasteful about professionals promoting themselves like grubby salesmen delivering desperate pitches, regardless of whether it's a firm, a group of private practitioners, an independent clinic, or a hospital. And to me, worst of all are schools which resort to newspaper and TV ads and billboards to boost their enrollment count. No matter how they defend it, I cannot accept that education is a commercial enterprise that can be hawked like a pack of cigarettes. It cheapens the value of education, and degrades the reputation of what is first and foremost an academic institution.

And ultimately, that is why I lean more towards believing that professionals-- of any field-- shouldn't try to sell themselves. It demeans the integrity of their profession, and reduces them to nothing more than common hacks and whores. They should leave the prostitution to greedy businesspeople like us.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gone too soon

"So swiftly the sun sets in the sky,
You rise up and say goodbye to no one.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,
Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don't show one....

...Freedom just around the corner for you
But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman."
-Bob Dylan

Heath Ledger, 1979-2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sweeney Todd: beauty in the bloodbath

Tim Burton's take on the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is vintage Tim Burton-- dark in its humor, cinematography, and eye makeup, disturbing with its tragedy, gore, and character psychoses, and incongruously delightful despite (or is it because of?) the macabre madness. This movie is the antithesis to 2007's other Broadway musical film adaptation, the joyful, colorful, rambunctious romp that was Hairspray. In stark contrast, Sweeney Todd is no feel-good film, but it is an excellent one, and in this former BBC Oscar panelist's humble opinion, it deserved the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy, and it deserves at least a nomination for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Musicals tend to rely heavily on production spectacles, and performances from the actors, no matter how good, usually get overwhelmed by the catchy songs, elaborate sets and fancy costumes. Not so in the case of Sweeney Todd. Burton's muse, Johnny Depp, arguably the best actor of our generation, is outstanding as the tortured, twisted titular character. Depp's demon barber is a haunted, hollow, yet still achingly human soul, practically Shakespearian in his tragic circumstances: wrongfully imprisoned by a lecherous judge, Benjamin Barker loses his beautiful wife and baby girl, and returns to London 15 years later a changed man with a changed name, merciless, murderous and hell bent on revenge. Playing the throat-slitting Sweeney Todd, Depp has all the morbid, magnetic appeal of a bloody car wreck: it's terrifying, but you just can't tear your eyes away. It's not just the raccoon circles under his eyes (or the skunk hair)-- it's the spite he spits out in his singing, it's the fierce intelligence detectable in the otherwise dead eyes, and above all it's the hint of the person he used to be, now being consumed by his rage. This is a man whose bitterness and hatred are easy to recognize, but whose grief and pain and despair are only made palpable thanks to Depp's magnificent range as an actor.
He lends a depth and unlikely empathetic quality to a character who has lost his moral center AND his sanity, in the same manner in which he succeeded in making a scoundrel like Captain Jack Sparrow lovable.

Solid supporting performances are delivered by the fabulous Mrs. Tim Burton, Helena Bonham-Carter, as devious Mrs. Lovett and my darling Alan Rickman (in top sleazy/sexy form) as vile Judge Turpin. I am always impressed when actors reveal a hidden talent, and though I wouldn't advise them to quit their day jobs, both Bonham-Carter and Rickman are pretty decent singers, as Depp is. Sacha Baron-Cohen of Borat fame appears in a brief but scene-stealing role as the shrewd Italian barber Pirelli, and provides some of the movie's few moments of comic relief.

There are many unpretty things in Sweeney Todd-- child abuse, cruelty, lunacy, murder, cannibalism, cockroaches, and a lot of red, red blood. But for all its visceral and visual sordidness, it is an utterly compelling and moving film. And perhaps that, ultimately, is the genius of Tim Burton: finding and revealing the beauty in the wretched, the wicked, and the damned.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A post-birthday note of gratitude, for Openness

This morning, Shirley texted that her birthday prayer for me was a verse from yesterday's Gospel reading:

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father." (Matthew 18:10)

I laughed out loud when I read the passage, because on the morning of my birthday, some of my "little ones" from Openness yanked me out of the depths of travel-weary slumber, had my sister blindfold me, put me in a car and drove me to a picnic breakfast at Greenhills West's park. Part of me (the tired, sleepy part) wanted to strangle them for waking me so early, but it was impossible to stay annoyed when they had gone to so much trouble, getting up way earlier than I did, buying breakfast, bringing
an Estrelle's cake and French Baker cupcakes (it wouldn't be Openness without the polyphagia), setting up the picnic, decorating the nearby playground set, driving to my house to abduct me, and patiently waiting while I showered (because I refused to leave the house without showering). While I wouldn't say all my Openness babies remind me of angels ("devils" seems more appropriate sometimes, haha), I do regard them as one of the greatest sources of joy and love in my life, and one of the greatest blessings, heaven-sent or otherwise.

To Rach, Tarin, Pamy, Alaine, Den, Irizze, Anne, and B.Li, thank you so very much for the effort and time (and food!), and for helping make yet another birthday of mine happy and memorable. Love and hugs!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

27 going on 17?

"When you're 17 you know everything.
When you're 27 if you still know everything, you're still 17."
-Ray Bradbury

Today I turn 27, and with the added figurative candle on my metaphorical cake come several sinking realizations. That I'm now in my late 20s. That I'm only 3 years away from turning 30. That I have 2 years left to audition for American Idol (like I would). That I'm just 1 year away from what I've always thought of as the ideal marrying age (eep!). That I'm another year closer to bidding my youth goodbye. There's a sensation of roiling dread bubbling in the pit of my stomach (or maybe it's the beginnings of an ulcer), and it would be worse if not for the reassuring knowledge that after 27 years of slogging through this morass called life, I've done a lot I can be proud of, and I've grown into a person my family and friends can be proud of. Admittedly, my parents would breathe easier if I finally found their future son-in-law, but hey, you can't have everything.

Turning 27 might be a bit unsettling, but paradoxically there's also something steadying about it, as if my internal clock is signaling that it's time to REALLY act like an adult now, that I need to shed my immature qualities and abandon all childish pursuits. In many ways, I do feel grown-up already (I was born 30, after all), and I know enough about myself and the world around me to see me through whatever grown-up messes I manage to get myself into.

in many ways, I'm still 17 too.
I probably owe it to 2 years of teaching high school kids, but I actually feel younger now than I did in my early 20s. I'm pretty sure I'll never be entirely rid of the reckless arrogance of a teenager, and I will even throw the occasional hissy fit like a spoiled debutante. I will abuse my parents' kindness and continually turn to them to bail me out of trouble. I will bully my sister and I will bicker with my brother, and I will snort in laughter with them over juvenile pranks, private jokes and ridiculous wedding emcees. I will crank up the volume when listening to rock music, I will squeal and swoon over Hollywood hotties (AND Marc Nelson), and I will gossip with my girlfriends about the most mundane and meaningless things (i.e. boys). I will still get a kick out of amusement parks, cartoons, and professional wrestling, and I will never, ever give up my collection of stuffed animals. So sure, I may be getting older, but as they say, age is a state of mind, and there will always be days when mine audaciously, foolishly thinks it knows everything.

That whole "older and wiser" bit is SO overrated anyway.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Back to HK

I'll be in Hong Kong on a business trip from the 16th to the 19th, and when I get back, I'll be a few hours away from turning another year older. It's fantastic that I get to enjoy my last days of being 26 in my favorite city in the world, but it sucks a bit that it has to be for work. Oh well, have to earn my shopping money. :p

I'll be back in a few days, poorer, fatter (from eating too much dimsum), wearier, and older. Until then, my faithful bloghounds, this is your blogger signing off as a 26-year-old for the last time. Peace out.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Won over by Casanova

Whenever my family dines out on weekends, we tend to stick to restaurants that are either convenient (i.e. near our house) or familiar (i.e. tried and tested). When the 5 of us can't agree on where to eat, our usual fallback is UCC Connecticut, since it's both convenient and familiar. Unsurprisingly, our weekend dining is quickly becoming unadventurous and unexciting.

So when I found out it would only be me, Hanks and Pa having dinner together Saturday night, I took the opportunity to pick a restaurant none of us has been to (my mom's more reluctant to try new places). With the help of MunchPunch and Lori Baltazar's fabulous food blog Dessert Comes First, I found Gran Caffe Casanova, an Italian restaurant located in The Clubhouse
beside Corinthian Hills, along Temple Drive.

The place is quite small, with some tables practically inches away from one another, so if you plan on bringing a date, don't expect your intimate conservation to be kept private. If you're in a big group, they can seat you at a long table outside, if you don't mind dining al fresco. I had called ahead to reserve a table inside, and since there were only 3 of us, we had no problem squeezing into the most relatively secluded corner table by the drinks/coffee bar.

The service was quite efficient; our food was served promptly and at satisfactory temperatures. For a starter, we ordered the Involtini Vegetali Alle Due Salse, rolled grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini and carrots) with sundried tomato salsa and pesto. It was a yummy appetizer, but at P320 for 3 rolls, not much in the way of value for money. For our main course, we ordered 1 pizza and 3 pasta dishes. We requested that our pizza be split into 2 flavors, the Bascaioli (porcini mushrooms and ham) and the Casanova (arugula and Parma ham). We liked the former, but it was the Casanova we loved. Among our pasta selections, Pa's Aglio Olio Fettucine had the best flavor, but he wished it had something else in it to make it a "fuller" meal (perhaps shrimp would have done nicely). My Fettucine Salsicce had an excellent tomato sauce with generous helpings of delicious sausage, but very few porcini mushrooms. Also, the noodles were a bit overcooked (I like them soft, but not mushy). On the other hand, the guitar-string noodles in Hanks' Chitarra Salsa Veniziana were too al dente, and the onions and anchovies didn't bring much flavor to them. She ended up helping us finish our pastas instead, and had the rest of hers wrapped in a doggie bag, along with the leftover pizza. For dessert, Hanks and I tried a scoop of chocolate gelato, which I think might possibly be better than Pagliacci's. Pa had a latte, and it was so good he told us to order another to share. At P70 a cup, the latte outclassed any P100+ Starbucks drink.

I don't know if it was because we were in a relaxed mood, but despite some inconsistencies in the quality of the food, overall we enjoyed our dining experience at Gran Caffe Casanova. Next time I want to try their gnocchi or ravioli. They have a lot of items on the menu that look worth sampling, and
I'm sure Pa wouldn't mind a return visit. The only question now is whether or not Ma would be willing to give it a shot. :p

[more pix of our Casanova dinner here]

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Paradox of Girl Power, redux

Back when I was in college and at my most cynical, I wrote a bitchy piece called "The Paradox of Girl Power", scorning the concept of gender equality and the futility of the feminist movement. I remembered it while I was having a conversation with my sister regarding Hillary Clinton (whom we both dislike), and how her "breakdown" might have helped her win the New Hampshire primary. To me, this incident clearly illustrated the points I presented in my angry little article (I wish I still had a copy), which posited the idea that there are just some things women aren't good at/for... like being president.

I'm of the opinion that regardless of whether Hillary's tears were genuine or crocodile, they a) won her sympathy votes, primarily from female voters, and b) showed her to be weak. If the crying was for real, then it shows she cracks under pressure, and isn't strong enough to lead the most powerful nation in the world. If the crying was for show, then it shows she has to resort to cheap tactics, and isn't strong enough to stick to her principles. And I'm not buying the argument that it revealed Hillary's "humanity". That's simply another way of saying she's flawed, and I don't know about the typical American citizen, but as much as possible I wouldn't put my trust in a flawed leader (at least, one who is starting to show the chinks in her armor even before the actual elections).

The female voters' sympathy also supports my belief that women are by nature more emotional, and hence, more irrational. Hillary chokes up, and suddenly she's likable, poor thing. There, there, dry your eyes, I'll vote for you. Hillary's feminist supporters, the ones who would just love to see a woman do more in the White House than plan the Christmas decorations (as early as March, so Laura Bush said in a CNN interview... but I digress), these women should actually be upset with Mrs. Clinton for setting them back in their fight for gender equality, because she just proved-- with her tears AND with the female voters' response-- that women are indeed the weaker sex.

Before anyone castigates me for being such a sexist (and a traitor to my own gender), I would like to clarify that I do believe women are good at and in some cases better than men at many other things: excelling in academics, nurturing relationships, managing a household, running a small business, even. But running a huge corporation, much less an entire country? Sorry girls, but let's face it, we're not cut out to handle that much power. On a larger scale of things, men are more decisive, more objective, more logical, and generally made of tougher, sterner stuff. They worry less, nitpick less, are not as dramatic or moody, and tend to take things not as personally as women would. And most critically, they don't get PMS or menopause (anyone who tells me that's not a factor is obviously male, or a pre-adolescent female).

But what about the Margaret Thatchers and Tessie Sy-Cosons of the world, you may point out. I would then ask you to consider that the few women who do succeed in government and the corporate world possess inherently male characteristics more than female ones. Heck, most of them even sport short hair. It's a man's world, honey, and to play with the big boys, you gotta be a big boy. Unfair? Yes. But as my favorite rhetorical refrain goes, life is unfair. Take it like a man.

Admittedly, Hanks and I are firmly for Obama (you rock, Barack!), and Hillary reminds me too much of GMA for me to ever look at her without fighting the urge to gag, but personal bias aside, I would not want to see a woman as POTUS. I realize I'm not even American, and my opinion isn't going to be included in any polls, nor do I get to participate in the next primary or caucus (can anyone explain to me the difference please??). But Hillary's campaign for the Democratic presidential candidacy
reminds me too strongly of why women are, and probably always will be, at a disadvantage, even if she does end up winning the nomination AND the election.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

There go the Globes

Thanks to the ongoing, needlessly protracted Writers Guild of America strike (and thanks to sympathetic actors refusing to cross picket lines), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has decided to cancel the usual Golden Globe Awards ceremonies, opting to go with a more low-key press conference where they will simply announce the winners (read the Yahoo News article here).

What a buzzkill this strike is turning out to be. TV series have had their seasons cut short, talk shows have gone on hiatus (although Leno, Letterman, et al have returned, some sans writers), awards ceremonies are being drastically revamped, and if this stretches on, movie productions with unfinished screenplays will have to shut down. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the writers. With the kind of measly pay they're getting relative to the big bucks actors, directors and producers rake in, they have every right to be on strike. The people I'm peeved at are the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for being a bunch of stubborn, greedy asses who apparently won't give an inch during negotiations with the WGA. For crying out loud, the writers are only getting 4 cents in residuals from DVD sales, and all they're asking for is 4 more. We're talking about only EIGHT CENTS per DVD sold. And if the writers want a share of sales from online media, certainly they're entitled to it. No writers, no content to be uploaded or downloaded, ergo no extra money to be made. So I really don't see how the writers' demands can be unreasonable.

Given their greed, I'm surprised the producers haven't caved in negotiations yet. This strike has dragged on for over 3 months, and has cost them hundreds of millions in advertising income already. I wonder what the turning point will be, and which side will ultimately get its way. For now, the end is nowhere in sight, and with the Golden Globes now essentially nixed, the Oscars just might be the next to go.

The only consolation in all this is that we viewers won't have to be subjected to the ungainly sight of Rumer Willis as Miss Golden Globe. Who knew mixing Demi Moore and Bruce Willis' genes would result in... that?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mom and me (a reflection written on her birthday)

Last Saturday I was at Shangri-la Plaza shopping for my mom's birthday present, which is always a Herculean task, given her exacting standards. Not finding anything worth buying at the Debenhams sale, I dropped by Zara to check out their ongoing sale. While inside the store, I passed 2 women who were speaking in Chinese, debating whether or not to get a certain item. As if the tone of their discussion weren't enough, one glance at their faces told me they were mother and daughter, and something about that made me smile.

They say that all women eventually turn into their mothers, whether referring to physical resemblance or personality profile. When I was growing up, everyone always said I looked like my mom, but I think it was more because of the fact that we're both tall and I used to wear glasses like her. I actually look a lot more like my dad, and though I've come to terms with my huge Lim cheeks and pudgy nose, I still consider it more flattering when people say I remind them of my youthful-looking mother.

But the real reason I'm sometimes dubbed "Huya Jr." is our similar personalities. Although our mentalities and beliefs can be different at times, we're wired the same way: strong-willed, independent, domineering, hot-tempered, cerebral and instinctively (over?)protective. Being so alike, we butt heads very often, especially when those differing beliefs come into play. Nonetheless, I like that I'm a lot like her, and more often than not I take it as a compliment when my parents' friends or business acquaintances tell me I'm just like my mom. However, I am also aware that whatever qualities of hers I or others find aggravating or abrasive are also what others may find unbearable about me. Living with my mom is not easy sometimes, but then I have to bear in mind that similarly, living with me for a daughter must not be very easy for her too.

I admire and respect and love many things about my mother, and today, on her 51st birthday, I look at all she's accomplished in a half-century of life, and
feel very proud to be her daughter, and to have inherited many of her fine AND not-so-fine traits.

Postscript: I ended up buying a pajama set from Rustan's for my mom. The PJs are not long-sleeved as she prefers, and the fabric quality might not meet her approval, and I'll probably get scolded more than thanked for my inadequate choice of gift. But I know in her own way-- in OUR own way-- she'll appreciate it. :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

8 things to look forward to in '08

Better movies

I predict 2008's going to be a great year for moviegoers (and it better be, after the dismal cinematic fare 2007 served up). Because we're a bit behind on US holiday releases (thanks to the stupid Metro Manila Film Festival), we have several critically acclaimed films to look forward to early this year, including I Am Legend, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, American Gangster, 3:10 to Yuma, Atonement, No Country for Old Men, I'm Not There, Charlie Wilson's War, Juno, Across the Universe, Love in the Time of Cholera, and There Will Be Blood. Summer blockbusters also promise to deliver the goods, with the likes of The Dark Knight, Sex and The City, Iron Man, Speed Racer, WALL-E, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian hitting theaters in 2008.

There were some films I didn't catch in theaters in 2007 (and some that didn't and might never show locally at all), so I want to get the DVDs of the following to add to 2008's viewing pleasure: Eastern Promises, Gone Baby Gone, Superbad (yes, Superbad), Michael Clayton, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Persepolis, The Savages and The Great Debaters.

More books

My reading list this year is populated with Pulitzer and Man Booker winners, New York Times "Best of" titles, a couple of contemporary classics, and some philosophical works. My goal is to finish more than half of the books on my list before the year is up, so expect more "bookworm progress reports" throughout 2008.

Must-see TV

There's the finale of the Amazing Race Asia Season 2 (go Marc and Rovilson! woot!), the premiere of American Idol Season 7, the Asian premiere of Damages on AXN, the Golden Globes (with the tightest competition I've seen in years), and-- unless the Writers Guild strike drags on and forces the Academy to cancel it-- the Oscars (I'm gunning for a back-to-back win in our sibling betting pool).

Series I need to upload/find pirated DVDs of: Season 4 of Boston Legal, Season 4 of House, Season 3 of Two and a Half Men, Season 2 of Heroes, Season 1 of Ugly Betty (I know, I know, I'm so behind), Season 1 of Pushing Daisies, and Season 1 of The Tudors.

Weddings galore

Predictably, a lot of people I know are getting hitched during this presumably auspicious year of '08, starting with my high school classmate JB on January 6 (1-6-8!), followed by my college blockmate and fellow LM girl Nikki on April 13, my high school kabarkada Mishy on October 12, my college buddy and jabroni Mike on November 29, and another high school kabarkada, Jo on December 7. The tolling wedding bells are giving me a splitting headache already.

Family reunion

For the first time in about 6 years, the Family will be reunited when our Canadian kitten Be returns to Manila in December, in time for Jo's wedding. She'll be bringing her hubby Dave, whom we are all looking forward to meeting. Hopefully, we'll be able to schedule a Family trip while Be is in town.


This year marks my parents' 30th year in business (30! damn!), so they're planning a company excursion for our employees. The last company outing was 5 years ago, and it was a fun-filled day at Enchanted Kingdom. I wonder where we'll be going this year...

Also, it will be my dad's 60th birthday in May, so that calls for another celebration (even if he's feebly insisting he doesn't want a big party :p). Plus, my brother will (*crossing my fingers*) finally graduate from UP this March. This Year of the Rat is bound to be a memorable one for the 2 Rats in our family.

More mileage points

As early as now, I already have 2 trips planned for 2008: one to Hong Kong on January 16, for the Hong Kong Fashion Fair, and another to Kuala Lumpur during Holy Week, for Elianto business and some pleasure (as much pleasure as can be had with my mom's high school classmates, that is 0_o). In addition, I'm guessing a trip to Cebu is called for sometime this year, since I have yet to see our new stores in SM Cebu's Northwing, and if Bens ends up going to Beijing to study like Hanks and I did, then we'll probably visit him there sometime around his birthday in November.

The Beijing Olympics

We've given up hope of scoring tickets to the opening ceremonies on August 8 (8-8-8!), but I'm still looking forward to watching the live coverage of what will surely be the year's most spectacular sporting event (ok, maybe second only to the Ateneo-La Salle games, haha). Unfortunately, since Solar Sports is now no longer available on Sky Cable, we first need to figure out how to get the live coverage. That, or the great Benito Lim produces Olympics tickets as miraculously as he does UAAP tix.