Friday, December 24, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Man, I am a BAD blogger. :|

The last couple of weeks have been hellish, what with closing two issues for next year, and the last thing I wanted to do was write something I wasn't being paid for. Now that I'm on Holiday Mode though, spreading all the love and warmth and goodwill and all that jazz is starting to look pretty good. That, and my mom's been giving me The Look for working on this post for so long.

It's all Photobucket's fault, with their wonky programs. Swear.

So this is for you, Mom. Finally got it up. Merry Christmas!




Filipinos are notorious for having an absolute mania for Christmas. Mall speakers start playing carols the minute the calendar turns to September, prices of quezo de bola and ham are suddenly much, much higher than they used to be, and relatives start pouring in from every corner of the world. What really gets a lot of people excited --or stressed, however you wish to look at it -- is the impending moment that dusty cartons of Christmas decorations can be pulled out of storage, and suddenly, houses are decked out in holly and tinsel and millions of lights and gyrating statues of Santa Clause and/or his herd of fluorescent-nosed reindeer.

Thankfully, my mother manages to control her domestic, Martha Stewart-esque urges long enough to start decorating in the latter weeks of November, or even, horror of horrors, December.

Some weeks ago, our house looked like this. As of the first of this month, it transformed into my mother's metallic holiday project.

(Shameless Plugging Time: If you are in any way interested in interior design, DIY projects, or pretty things in general, you should take a look at the blog 40 and Beyond by my mom's good friend, Tita Irene. She updates often, and is a much more responsible blogger than I am.)

[Disclaimer: I take crappy photos. Sorry.]

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The image above is what I have been coming home to. I'd like to think the d├ęcor is subtle and tasteful, hinting at the holidays rather than screaming “HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS! *BLINKING LIGHTS*”

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Two wreaths within a six-foot distance of each other. We like the holidays at our house, obviously.

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My mother's pride and joy, our tree is metallic, glowy and decked out in ornaments she's found mostly from this store in Makati that opens only in November and December, and has insanely low prices. We're talking sometimes Php 20 15 (!!!) a piece here. That's less than a candy bar.


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So shiny.

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Did I mention that, aside from two wreaths, we also have two trees? This is her “country” tree. I sigh. It's all I can do.

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Little houses that light up are an endless source of amusement. If you have old Barbie dolls laying around, you can set up your own remake of “The Attack of the 50-Foot Woman.” I may or may not have had a misspent childhood.

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This is adorable, admit it.

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We keep the Santa figurines under control. Keeping the themed decorations together keeps the look whimsical, yet subtle.I've seen homes that looked like a retirement home for North Pole citizens. Not cool.

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You know it's almost Christmas when my mom brings out her red candles.

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The main features of her vignettes are still there, but given a holiday glamour treatment. (Typing that just killed me.)

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Really, it's the tiny details that I love. I think I'll get Mom a plush Eiffel Tower, just to see whether the aesthetic/sentimental/Francophile conflict will make her head explode.

(I didn't mean that, Mom, really.)

Note: All photos were taken on November 25, 2010, which was weeks before the full force of the Christmas Spirit took over the household. What you have just seen is a mere drop in the tiny ocean of decorating fever. Consider it a favor.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cebu: Lechon and Everything After

In an earlier post, I said I would be posting pictures from my overnight trip to Cebu, and seeing as how four years of college have hammered the phrase "journalistic integrity" (I think it's journalistic integrity... it could be ethics. Or something like that. You know what I mean.) into my brain, I am compelled to provide you, dear reader, with a visual tour of Things Gaby Saw/Did/Ate.

First up, the main reason I was given a couple of days out of the office and sent to Cebu, the Radisson Blu hotel. The result of a partnership between the SM Corporation and the Carlson hotel chain, it is an unassuming business hotel with fabulous service, speedy WiFi, and really delicious dessert.


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The hotel's facade


It's also a stone's throw away from what Wikipedia says is the world's 18th largest mall. Of course I had to go. And yes, it's just like every other SM in the world, with the exception of the newly-built (renovated?) North Wing, which features the higher-end stores. On sale. It took an inordinate amount of will-power -- as well as the realization that I had to fly back to Manila with about ten kilos added to my luggage if I gave in -- that kept me from shopping. I have a disease, I tell you.

Fine, I'll admit, I got a pair of really cute shoes. Twenty percent off. Win.

The hotel opening and ribbon cutting was this massive affair, with corporate moguls, CEOs, and pretty much the VIP of all Philippine VIPs right now:


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Yep


President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. Not only Kris' older brother, but more importantly, the fifteenth president of the Republic of the Philippines. He snipped the ribbon, gave what I'd like to think was a very good address, and then left for another meeting. And I thought my schedule was hectic.

I just wrote about the president on my blog. How cool and serious is that? Anyway, moving on.


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My view


I should start making this a regular feature. "Gaby's Room (With A View)" or whathaveyou. Too commercial, I think, but whatever. It's a work in progress. This picture is pretty hilarious though. Half tropical paradise, half paved parking lot. Joni Mitchell would have found this hilarious, no? ...Maybe not.


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Sample-size sweets.

I was, however, momentarily distracted by this plate of desserts so thoughtfully placed in my room. All were delicious, particularly because they were all mine. I also have two notorious soft spots –and a separate stomach-- for chocolate, in any form, and carrot cake.

Dinner, the next morning's breakfast, and then dinner before leaving for the airport, were at the hotel's restaurant, Feria.

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It was there that I realized just how much I'm aging; years, even months ago, buffets were my domain, my specialty. Now, a buffet --particularly one that is separated into stations for appetizers, entrees, dimsum, and dessert -- has turned from a smorgasbord of delights into an overwhelming array that short circuits my brain.

Because I'm a horrible journalist, I totally forgot to take pictures of the party celebrating the opening, which took place the night we arrived. Was way too reliant on the SLR-toting members of the group. Whoopsies.

The next morning, a surprisingly upbeat and fresh group began a tour of Cebu. Our first stop:


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Kenneth Cobonpue's showroom and workshop


I'm not the biggest fan of minimalist design, but some of his stuff was just undeniably pretty. See for yourself:


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A bed inspired by the architechture of the Hagia Sophia. Awesome.

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Lighting is important. Kenneth Cobonpue knows this, apparently.

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I'm not sure if this is the piece they were referring to, but the chismis is that Brad Pitt owns one of these.

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Cuteness. This.

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I like beds, can't you tell?

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For lunch, we were taken to where they make The Greatest and Best Pork in the World. Blogger Marketman, or Joel, which is about as much as Google knows about his real name, made some of his infamous Zubuchon, along with some other non-porky dishes for the group.


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Dude. Duuuuude. Duuuuuuuude. The lechon was like... like if traditional Cebu lechon and lechon kawali had babies. Flavor from the bones, with crispy skin because they make hundreds of tiny little holes in the pig prior to cooking.

Duuuuude. And the little one? Truffle lechon. I'm going to say that again: truffle. Lechon. The man is insane. Like, seriously, who thinks of this stuff? It's like bacon ice cream. But, you know, good. Or lechon sinigang. Stuff you'd never put together.


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Oh. Wait a minute. That's lechon sinigang right there. Cue a round of maniacal laughter.


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The aforementioned non-porky stuff


After lunch and what can only be described as a food coma, the group was shuttled off to, um, a jewelry store. That makes pretty things. Like rings and pendants and bangles. Yeah. But the real highlight of the trip lay outside the factory:


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Sheep. On someone's front lawn. There were two, actually, but this one was closer. Too bad he wasn't looking.

The rest of the trip was pretty much downhill from there. Because really, sheep. Sheep.

I should end all posts with images of sheep.

For more non-sheep-related information, you can call the Radisson Blu Hotel at +63 32 402 9900 and look for Ms. Mary Joan Danao, who is a lovely, patient person, who managed to deal with a group of 20 squealing journalists for a full day without wanting to stab any of us, or so I'd like to think. Tell her Gaby sent you. You can also visit the hotel's website if you want to make your own blog post of what [Insert Your Name Here] Saw/Did/Ate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Several Things

1) I'm angry at Starbucks for discontinuing my beloved Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. If they've also broken your heart, The Muffin Movement, a page borne out of too much caffeine, frustration, and the lack of a licensing body on the internet, might be worth a look.

2) Globe Telecom is kind of a pain sometimes. Boo.


3) I'm in Cebu! Yaaaaay! Pictures to follow. :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Oh. Hello.

My last post was a month ago??? Man, I am horrible at this blogging thing.

Just wanted to let you know I'm not dead and that I will, sometime in the near future, attempt to resuscitate this page with mirth and wonder and glee and magic and pretty things and polar bears and lipstick and dinosaurs and stuff.

But now I'm going to leave you with something that's been making me smile the past couple of days:

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Ewoks!

Monday, October 4, 2010

J.D.

J.D.


I have a work mug now, which officially makes me an employee, or as my friend Macky put it, a "corporate drone."

His name is J.D. and I think he's very, very pretty. He has good weight, and holds enough coffee to last me through one story. He was also half-off at the Gourdo's sale. Win.