July 28, 2008

SONA mukha mo!

I don't have a computer right now as i'm in the process of upgrading. But I just had to blog my thoughts about today's State of the Nation (SONA) by our beloved presidentita.

The presidentita has the best fiction writers around. Only they could come up with crap like that and weave it into a literary masterpiece. If her SONA speech were a novel, it would top the New York Times Bestseller List...for FICTION!

I rode a cab today coming from an interview and the driver said with gas prices so high (premium is over P60/liter), he has very little saved up from his daily earnings minus the boundary.

"Sabi ni Gloria, konting tiis pa daw. Lahat kaming mahihirap nag-tiis...di na kami makakain. Mahal ang sardinas, P13 sa tindahan, bigas, instant mami...baka sunod nyan, parang hayop na kami dahil damo nalang kakainin namin. Kokonti nalang nagtitiis ngayon kasi lahat namatay na."

And that, people, is the real state of this nation.

(P.S. Red is really the presidentita's color. But I dunno why she wore a Ma. Clara outfit today w/c again, infantilized her...tyanak nga e sabi ni pangs...A terno would have been more becoming. Ayan, sablay na ang economic policies, but wardrobe sablay din. The only thing that works is her botoxed forehead!)

July 26, 2008

We want our Ynzal back!

YNZAL Marketing Corp. is one of the best, if not THE BEST, Apple dealer in the country. Because of ONE customer dispute, Apple has chose to pull Ynzal's accreditation as an authorized seller of its products in the Philippines. NOT FAIR!

The benefits of having Ynzal as an Apple dealer far outweighs whatever one problem it had with one customer. And come on, these guys have been around for 9 years already. So give us a break.

Aside from giving its customers very reasonable prices on Apple products and especially really fabulous steals during its clearance sales, Ynzal's customer service is just the best there is. Its staff is its best asset because they will talk to you through any problems you may have (and with Apple products, these are very few really) and answer any questions or concerns on your purchase.

So may I ask all of you, especially those who've purchased products from Ynzal, to please sign this petition to be sent to Apple. Hey Steve Jobs! we want our Ynzal back!

(And P.S. Ynzal says it's not closing down despite this misunderstanding with Apple. So sige, go ahead, sign na!)

Now this is cool!

Check this out...The Simpsons OBB...LIVE ACTION!

...And an Indian cartoon version

Funnee! :)

July 25, 2008

Grief management

(Luv my new rainboots!)

WHEN my eldest brother passed away three years ago, my Ate and I went on a buying spree of colored chinelas near the palengke in our Pop's province of Roxas City. "Grief management" is what my Ate and I dubbed it. Our Mom even went to Gaisano just to buy jeans and several shirts, just to also ease the pain of our family's loss.

When it was Pop's turn to meet his Maker last year, we all pigged out eating at the wake as friends just supplied us with the yummiest dishes. The best dish I still recall is what my Auntie Mila called American Lumpia, it was cheese, ham, veggies wrapped in an egg lumpia wrapper...yum! Of course, I also bought a few things after that, a new phone, new curtains for my home office, etc.

(Chaikofi at 3rd level, The Block, SM North)

Since my friend passed away last week, I've been on a non-stop buying/eating binge again...buti nalang it's sales season in all the malls so the splurging doesn't hurt as much. Bought new beige wedgies from CMG and really cool rain boots from the GAP (which I have been waiting for to go on sale since it opened in Manila), and eating like there was no tomorrow.

(This wasn't my order, but it looks yummy noh? Chunky Chicken at Chaikofi, The Block.)

Last Thursday, I even cooked Spaghetti Vongole after I found freshly-blanched clams at S&R. With a good chardonnay on hand, I cooked it and invited Francine over for dinner. Had some off that smoky-sweet roasted chicken from S&R as well to complement the pasta. There's nothing like eating and making chismis with a good friend to chase those blues away.

(This is my order...Crabstick Sandwich w/ Caesar Salad and Mint-flavored Iced Tea.)

Anyhoo, atill on my grief management, this afternoon I ate at one of the cafés at The Block at SM North. (Actually I had to go there because my eyeglasses broke apart last night and needed a replacement asap. Thanks to Executive Optical for a pleasant, hassle-free experience. They only charged me for the frame.)

Chaikofi I think is of Malaysian origin, and offers value-for-money lunch and merienda specialties. I'm always satisfied with my order and the overall service of the place. Except that today, they mixed up my order...I had ordered a crabstick sandwich and Caesar salad combo with iced tea. I got served the chunky chicken instead, which though a wrong order, looked yummy as well. They did change my order but minus 5 points na yan sa for customer service, hehe.

(Sebastian's at The Block...yes, civilization has now come to SM!)

Although there is a tendency to take liberties with the mayo, overall the sandwich was good and very filling. Aside from the crabstick, the sandwich had a slice of cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. I could only finish half of the sandwich. The Caesar salad had bacon bits, parmesan cheese, aside from the lettuce and chicken chunks, and was coated with just enough of the right amount of dressing. Meaning, hindi ka bitin sa dressing so the salad was really malasa. Well, the iced tea was okay. It was supposed to be mint-flavored but I didn't taste the mint. All that for just P170. So it doesn't hurt your pocket at all to eat there. Pls. lang though, keep the in-house music toned down!

(Ice cream burgers...mmmm)

For dessert, I walked across from Chaikofi to tadaah! Sebastian's ice cream. Glorious creamy goodness talaga! I have been so in love with Sebastian's ice cream since it opened in Alabang. I'm not really an ice cream ghel, but when the ice cream is super delicious like this one, naku! I cannot help but eat it. I ordered the Chunky Mocha and Almond Fudge, hoy sugar-free yan! and it was really heavenly. Graveh the almond bits were really huge! And for P95 with a cone pa (w/c was not sugar-free I suppose so useless din to order the sugar-free ice cream pala, haha), it was divine.

It's been a long productive and "splurgious" week. But I'm happy na. Ay, hindi pa pala. Will still be getting my new Mac next week. Then I'll be happy. Have a great weekend, folks!

(Sugar-free Chunky Mocha and Almond Fudge...heavenly!)

July 23, 2008

Finally, Pepper Lunch! (and a word about the Dark Knight)

(Waiting in line at Pepper Lunch.)

AFTER months of waiting, I finally ate at Pepper Lunch at the Rockwell Power Plant Mall in Makati. I had hesitated going earlier because of the long lines of eager diners, and also because it had just opened. As a part-time food reviewer, I usually give a restaurant three to six months before eating there, just to give it time to settle down, its cooking perfected, and its customer service polished.

I went last Friday and Ms. RP and I were soooo famished! Buti nalang the line wasn't so long anymore as it was past 8 pm by the time we got there. Ms. RP ordered the Beef Pepper Steak while I had the Cut Steak and Hamburger Burger Combo. We also shared a Spicy Tuna Salad between us.

(This is how you cook your steak, neh.)

Ms. RP liked her dish, which was evident in the way she quickly finished it. But she said it was kinda difficult to eat the spicy tuna salad which was in a tall plastic cup that wasn't too sturdy, and wherein in you had to dig down deep to get to the soba noodles. It was kinda hard nga naman to mix the salad. But I liked the taste which was a curious mix of salt and spice. It was a good pampaalis-suya especially if you are eating all that beef (which I actually try to stay away from to keep healthy. But once in awhile, I do get a hankering for it, especially if the steak is really tender and juicy.)

As for me, I loooved my dish, especially the burger! So tasty and soft, not super crusty like how burgers usually become after being on the grill. Wouldja believe I finished my rice? Hay, carbo loading! Ang comment ko lang is that they should snip off the ends of the bean sprouts, you know the soiled ends that usually causes tummy aches? I ate everything 'cos I was so hungry na, I didn't have the patience to cut 'em off anymore, so there, I had a tummy ache after nga. I aso wonder if I they can serve kernel corn instead of bean sprouts if a customer requests it? Parang it will also be a delicious combo because of the butter.

(Pero, magbayad muna kayo.)

I like the cheerful and chic ambiance of the restaurant, and the waitstaff are well-trained. They were ever so helpful, especially when the couple at the table beside us spilled their soda. (Actually si ghel was really the clumsy one who knocked over her drink, much to the consternation of bhoyfren...josh! I just noticed how embarrassed he was 'cos of what happened, that he didn't speak at all, even as Ms. RP tried to make light of the matter. Last date na nila 'yan ahm chure!)

The waitstaff (or busboy) came up with the mop and the trapo to wipe the floor and table clean. After, he gave the ghel another serving of softdrink, for free. Hwaw! swerte naman ni ghel.

(Spicy Tuna Salad)

I like the price points of the restaurant as well. Ms. RP's dish cost P235 with a soda already, while mine was P360 (you can tell them to give you bottled water instead of a soda). The spicy tuna was P99. So in total, we spent less than P700. Of course, we were so busog, we had no space to eat dessert anymore, kainis. I wanted to try pa naman that Kuromitsu ice cream. Mmmm...

I am raring to go back and try the other dishes in the menu (the Shimofuri Pepper Steak and Teriyaki Pepper Salmon look interesting). Some of the items are kinda expensive like the Shimofuri and the Yawaraka Loin Steak, pero kung masarap naman, why not chocnut? I've always felt okay shelling out more money for good quality food. After working to death, why deny yourself that luxury? Let's burp to that.

(Cut Steak and Hamburger Combo...yumminess!)

(Pepper Lunch is at the Food Court of the Rockwell Power Plant in Makati.)

* * * *

I didn't like the Dark Knight. Then again, I've never been a fan of the Batman movies. (I liked the old TV series though starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader, because its was so camp! Funny!)

Of course, Heath Ledger was excellent in this movie; he really werked the role of the Joker. I'm sure he will be nominated and will win a posthumous Oscar award. But Christian Bale? Nah, not impressive. So payat pa.

The plot was too predictable. Obviously Batman would try to save Harvey Dent because he believed that the DA was going to be the hero of Gotham City. Bruce Wayne said so himself. I only liked the fact that Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine were in it. Even with their small roles as Lucius Fox and Alfred the butler, magaling sila talaga in their understated acting. Oh, and Batman's motorcycle was hot! The Batmobile, not so.

But great scott Batman! bakit ang panget ni Maggie Gylenhall?!?!

Back in Bgy. Gloriaetta...

...after Romina Neri's controversial appointment as SSS president vice Corazon dela Paz-Bernardo, now comes another hair-raising appointment, that of ex-Senator Walang Baba aka Ralph Recto as the new director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Although I already blogged about it in January, and the chismis about him was raised again sometime last month, I was hoping that it would only be that, rumors. I didn't think the presidentita would actually push through with this gadsawful idea.
Recto named NEDA chief
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines -- The principal author of the expanded value added tax (VAT), which some groups wants scrapped, is now the director general of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday announced the appointment of former senator Ralph Recto, who will assume the post effective immediately.

Recto replaced Augusto Santos, who will go back to his old post as deputy director general of the agency. (Click here for the rest of the story.)

But then that's the presidentita for you, she just enjoys making these appointments in her inner circle just to needle her critics and the public at large. Wala syang paki, even if the appointment is not suited for the appointee's personality and work experience. I mean what really are the qualifications of Mr. Ate Vi, aside from being a "feeling economist", as one ex-NEDA director-general commented to me a few months back?

All the presidentita wants to do really is to repay those who've helped her tighten her stranglehold on the Filipino people (Recto was Mr. E-VAT if you remember), instead making sure the government is managed properly. Effective and efficient governance? Pshaw! I still think this appointment was nothing but payback for Ate Vi keeping her mouth shut about the cash gifts distributed to local officials in Malacañang.

So this is how the presidentita prepares for her SONA. Kawawang NEDA.

July 19, 2008

And then...a miracle :)

AFTER being depressed and weepy over my friend's passing, Someone Up There gives me a little nudge as if reminding me that this is all part of His Plan. That without death, there can be no life. And after much grief and mourning, we will rejoice again.

So behold! celebrate another miracle from Him. This is Baby Amira, the few-days old daughter of my friends Kler and Rikki. She was born on July 17 at the Makati Medical Center, weighing in at 5 lbs. Kinda tiny but Kler is a small woman as well.

Isn't she the cutest? Welcome to the world little angel! Get ready to do really great things!

(Thank you Lord for not forgetting me. Thank you for helping me deal with the pain by reminding me of the truly important things in the world. As always, You are there when I need You the most.)

July 16, 2008

A good man

I lost a friend today. It hurts because I didn't have enough guts to visit him when he was sick, and in the hospital. At the back of my mind, I was hopeful that he would still get well. And the last time I spoke with his wife, just last week, she said he was always thinking of food. I told her to tell him that he better get well and I will cook him sinigang, one of the dishes he wanted to eat.

I prayed and prayed that God would spare him again. I said his family still needed him, and I wanted to see him up and about, and fully recovered. But he passed away this morning, after putting up a brave fight with his illness. I know he wanted to stay because of his family and the many things he still could have done. I will always remember him as a sweet, caring person, with a joke or another amusing anecdote to make kwento about himself, his family, even our favorite president. His zest for life was just so infectious.

I never thought we would actually be good friends because he breathed a more rarified air than what I am used to. But just like that, he took me in like family (which is why I called him Dad sometimes). Pangs and I would usually join their family to watch a movie, get together for dinner, or go to their beach house and just spend a nice weekend lounging by the pool. I will always remember him with either a glass of red wine in hand, or smoking like a chimney, and by the time I would wake up, he would be done reading with the newspapers, then I would join him and his wife discussing the dastardly news of the day.

He had such a kind heart. I remember that when I had resigned from a job, and he heard another version of what happened from a cruel and corrupt lawyer I had a run in with, he and his best friend took me and Pangs out dinner. He was very concerned about what I would do next. While the night began on a somber note, by the end of it, we were all drinking, laughing and dancing. He didn't like the people around him to be sad, so he would always try to be upbeat.

At his wake, photos of him, his family, and friends were projected on the screen as we heard Mass in the chapel. It was riveting, all those photos. He was just smiling in all of them! It was a celebration of his life and how much he enjoyed it. I shall miss Iñaki, and am sad that he is now gone, but after seeing those photos of him, I'm so thankful that he became a part of my life. He was such a good man.

Ana, my prayers are with you and the whole family. Big hug.

La cage aux folles

TRUE story.

It takes place sometime 2003. Missus of a ranking government official goes to Pampanga to have some wooden furniture made. She orders furniture amounting to about P105,000. She tries to persuade shop owner to thrown in a freebie. Missus has her eye on a bird cage to keep her precious Brazilian birds. (Hwaw! Soozy! If I know, stone bird lang 'yan haha!)

Anyway, deal is closed, Missus hands over P50,000 to shop owner as downpayment for her merchandise. Soon has the furniture delivered to government official's house in Alabang. Government official was moving abroad, so Missus had the shop owners' delivery boys load up a container van the newly-delivered furniture, which include complete dining furniture and a living room set.

After the new furniture was loaded into the container, Missus asked same delivery boys to load other personal items from the family home into the container. (Ava ava ava gardner! ginawang utusan ang mga delivery boys!) The boys followed and loaded up the Missus' other family stuff into the container.

Tired and sweaty from all that heavy lifting, the delivery boys asked Missus if they could get a drink of water. Missus led them into the garden and told them to drink from the garden hose. (Josh! Wala man lang baso ateh? But why?) She didn't even bother to give the boys a tip for doing the work of movers.

Before the delivery boys left, they asked Missus for the rest of the payment. She had a balance of something like P55,000. Missus hands over a check for P50,000 instead, telling the delivery boys, "Sabihin nyo sa amo nyo tawad na yung P5,000 (tell your boss to give me a P5,000 discount)."

Since their instructions were to receive P55,000, one of the delivery boys called the shop owner, so she and Missus would talk. Shop owner pleads with Missus to give the full amount as the latter had promised, telling her: "Ma'am bakit naman ho kayo ganyan? Asawa pa naman kayo ng _____. Ako, maliit na tao lang po, binabayaran ko mga tao kada araw. Ang laki na po na discount binigay ko sa inyo. (Ma'am why are you behaving that way, you're the wife of ______. I'm just a small businesswoman, paying her people on daily basis. I already gave you a huge discount.)

More pleading and cajoling go back and forth over the phone until the shop owner so disgusted says, "di bale po, kahit lugi ako, balik nyo nalang po ang furniture (never mind, even if I'm not going to make a sale, it's better you just return the furniture)."

So Missus eventually pays the entire amount owed to the shop owner. But none too soon after, she blabs about the incident to the entire office of her husband but with a different twist. This time she says it's the shop owner who still owes her some goods despite the fact that she had already paid the shop owner the total cost of the furniture!

Someone from Missus' hubby's office eventually set out to talk with the shop owner and asked what happened. Shop owner said that yes, she still owes Missus a bird cage. But the shop owner said: "Oo nag-promise ako bibigyan ko sya ng bird cage pero yung gusto ho nya, yung magkakasya ang tao! E ang estimate ko dun, P35,000. Yung bibigay ko sa kanya bird cage na maliit lang. (Yes I promised her I'd give her a bird cage. But what she want is a bird cage large enough to fit people in! I estimate that that would cost P35,0000. I'm just going to give her a small bird cage.)"

* * * *

Sweeties, my source swears the shop owner was on the verge of tears when telling this story. She wasn't kidding about Missus wanting that large bird cage to put people in either. Graveh! Ano kaya ikukulong nya dun? Mga maids?! Ahem. Da who itong high-handed Missus na itoh?

July 15, 2008

Outgoing SSS chief details 'stress' on the job

“I’m going to make a baby.”

This was just classic Corazon de la Paz-Bernardo. I ask a serious question why she is resigning from the Social Security System (SSS) after being its president for seven years, and she makes a joke out of it. Hearty laughter follows her declaration—both from her and me; I suppose she is probably tired of answering the same question over and over again since news of her leaving, and subsequent replacement, hit the media. (Blogger's note: Dela Paz-Bernardo remarried last October, thus, the baby-making comment.)

She turns serious: “You know, I no longer have a colon. Then last December, I went to the hospital because I had a bleeding ulcer. That and my back,” referring to her scoliosis. “Everything happened to me while I was in SSS, all these stresses! It’s time for me to look after myself.”

De la Paz-Bernardo discloses, though, that she will still be involved in the government’s social-security program in one way or another. “I’m just not sure how it will be done,” she says, whether it will be on a consultancy basis or an actual government appointment. She explains the government position is necessary for her to retain her leadership at the helm of the International Social Security Association (Issa). Through Issa, she has made headway in helping Filipinos and other migrant workers get social- security coverage in the countries where they are working. (The rest of my interview with Cora dela Paz-Bernardo in BusinessMirror.)

* * * *

Read the PR spin on Romy Neri's appointment as SSS chief, from monkeys in the Palace: Click here

July 12, 2008

Mamma Mia!

WHEN I was in London about five years ago, Mamma Mia just started its run at the West End. I so wanted to watch it, but our sponsor's PR/feeling reporter insisted on getting us tickets to Lion King instead...grrr. Nagparinig na kaming mga editors sa kanya about our preference, but dead-ma. She was so set on watching Lion King.

I'm not dissing Lion King naman. It was a very good production, creative in the way they set up certain scenes like the stampeding animals, and I liked the songs But a few of us kinda got bored with it (we saw the movie na noh!) and left without finishing it. We felt it would be appreciated by a kiddie audience instead. If I had more time (and the money!) to stay in London, I probably would've gotten around to watching Mamma Mia. After all, I grew up on the songs of Abba, and still think of myself as, ahem, a Dancing Queen.

Well thank you for the movie, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson! I just watched the film adaption and it was such a hoot! It's a story of a young woman (Sophie) trying to find out who her real father is, and unknown to her mother (Donna), secretly invites her mom's three ex-lovers (Sam, Harry, Bill) to her wedding. Sophie doesn't know exactly who among the three men are her fathers; she just wants one of them to walk her down the aisle.

Sure the plot is kinda Pinoy in its predictability and camp, but what made the film work was the music, and the outrageous performances of its superstar actors led by Merryl Streep (who plays Donna), Pierce Brosnan (Donna's ex- Sam), and Colin Firth (another ex- Harry). Who knew Ms. Streep could sing so beautifully?! Christine Baranski, a Tony-award winning actress who has crossed over to the film industry (I remember her in Chicago), just sailed through her performances as Donna's friend Tanya. And how could I not appreciate Julie Walters, one of my favorite British comediennes, who plays writer Rosie? (Okay so it was a stretch to make her sing, but so too for Pierce.)

Of course, some of the acting became medyo OA (hay, Colin Firth), but the film was just pure fun. I just wanted to get up and dance in the cinema while singing the Abba songs. (I settled for singing out of respect for the other people watching.)

The audience also gets the feeling that the entire cast just enjoyed themselves making it. (How could they not when they were filming in fabulous Greece? Sigh...I wanna go there!) But it was pretty obvious that Ms. Streep had the most fun. In one interview she said she did the movie just to annoy her kids. Haha. She can be my mom anytime!

Btw, cuteness alert: check out Dominic Cooper who plays Sky, fiancee to Donna's daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). Yummy.

Warning: Watching this film may make you afflicted with the last song syndrome.

July 11, 2008

The irony of it all

WHAT an irony that former permanent representative to the UN Mission in New York, Ambassador Lauro Baja, has been accused of human trafficking by his former domestic help. After all, he was the one who had espoused the views of the Philippine government against it, and in international forums at that.

If you have been reading certain columnists since last year, there have been a few blind items which had already come out on some Filipino diplomats who have been engaged in these dastardly deeds, human trafficking and abuse of their househelp. I shall not confirm nor deny that those blind items were about Baja.

But our sources in the Philippine diplomatic community say there is a very good reason why the Department of Foreign Affairs and other Philippine ambassadors are not going to lift a finger or speak up to defend Baja (and his wife Norma, the other principal figure) in the case filed against him by Marichu Suarez Baoanan. Hmmm... (Tanong lang ha, why is a diplomat's wife allowed to own a travel agency and transact businesses on things like passports and such with the DFA? Parang wa naman delicadeza yan, 'day!)

Anyway, it's really embarrassing to have this kind of news land the Philippines or its officials on the pages of the New York Times. Americans take these crimes seriously primarily because of their long history of slavery of Africans and Negroes. In its early years, America was one of the largest human traffickers in the world, and slavery was a tradition in most of its southern households.

So I don't think the U.S. justice system is going to shoo this case vs Baja under the rug, like we would do here in the Philippines. (Btw, I am told that there was a criminal case filed against Baja last year, and in the States, one has to wait for that to be ruled on first before a civil case can be filed.)

Contrary to Amb. Baja's claim that Ms. Baoanan filed the case against him because she needed a visa, it was learned that the latter does have a T-visa that allows her to stay in the U.S. and bring her family. According to my diplomatic sources, these visas are very few and only awarded through law enforcement agencies to victims of human trafficking. Which can only mean, the law enforcement agencies believe Ms. Baoanan's claim. Hay, anovayan, bayan?!?

(Okay so you must be asking why is Ms. Baoanan smiling in all her photos w/ Baja's grandson which the ambassador had shown local broadcasters? If she was suffering as she had alleged, she would not look that that way right? But then, she's Pinoy, and like all of us, whenever a camera is around, we smile like idiots even when the pain inside us is killing us.)

Anyhoo, click here to read Ms. Baoanan's statement on the matter. Oh btw, my diplomatic sources say, this human trafficking case vs Baja is "just the tip of the iceberg." "Naykupooo!

July 09, 2008

California dreaming

STRAIGHT from sunny California, we hear whisperings and hushed talk about a certain globe-trotting government VIP who recently went shopping at the Neiman Marcus Stanford outlet.

According to our sources, the VIP with two "blue ladies" and bodyguards in tow, was walking around looking at the merchandise, and by the end of the walkabout, more than $20,000 had been paid to Neiman Marcus for her purchases...IN CASH! ladies and gentlemen. Which is why Neiman Marcus staff couldn't help but talk about the VIP for days.

As you know, in the States, credit cards (or personal cheques) are most often used and anybody who pays in cash is, ahem, a bit suspect. (Well, you can't blame them really because even back here at home, that VIP is suspect as well.)

Ooh, and what were the purchases of this certain VIP? A fabulous fur-trimmed long leather coat from Loro Piana, a really luxe clothing line from Italy which uses cashmere and other expensive fabrics for its goods, and two Chanel bags. Mind you dahlings, even if Neiman's is on 40 percent off this time of the year, those goodies purchased by our beloved VIP certainly were not!

(Luv this cape from Loro Piana...mga $14,000 lang naman sa Neiman Marcus. Ngek.)

For the Loro Piana coat alone, the tag is something like $15,000 (I suspect its chinchilla trim with a cashmere lining, that's why it costs so much) and for the Chanel bags, about $2,000-$3,000 a pop.

Now lemme just talk about Loro Piana goods a bit, because I salivate at the thought of ever wearing one of their products. They are so fab, fab, fabulous! Starting out as wool traders in the 1800s, the company has grown into a mega super luxe clothing and interiors brand although its still more known for its specialty, cashmere fabrics and goods. Recent additions to its line are its bags and jorjeous boots! Hay! Gandah!

In fairview, this VIP has taste (or as my witty sources say, hindi sya ang me taste but ang personal shopper/wardrobe consultant nya! hahahaha!).

Anyhoo, the Neiman's ghels and gheys were all abuzz about the coat purchase of this VIP, not only because it was paid for in cash, but because ang init dito sa Pilipins! Where the eff! is she going to use it daw? And when she was in the States, it's also summer! Well, she does travel a lot because of her job and shempre pa, she has to be fashyon when she is around her fellow VIPs when they meet abroad.

Ang tanong ko lang, sa liit nya, bagay kaya sa kanya yung coat na 'yun? Hindi kaya sya malunod sa fur-trim? Oops! dead giveaway na ba ang clue na yan?

And as pangs would say, 'tangina naman, nagkalunod-lunod at namatay-matay ang mga passengers sa MV Princess of the Stars ng Sulpicio Lines, mega-shopping pa din ang lolah nyo, instead of coming right back home! (Although in fairview, as some want to point out, she didn't have NM closed naman, like you-know-who.) Da who itong VIP na itich?!

* * * *

Anyway where will she use her fur-trimmed leather coat? Well maybe she will use it during the wintry months when she will be spending her retirement in her villa in Spain. Ahahay! The family seems to be preparing for the worst, as in, when she no longer has her job, and a mob is out to get her, she and her family can easily escape! (Itong VIP na ito kasi, feel na feel mag-Castilla kaya she wants to live in Spain, kahit di sya true coño, at sa true lang, looking more like a tiyanak sya...hahaha! Am I starting to sound like Chikka Time? Ayan pinasara kasi e!)

You have to hand it to this VIP and her family, all their investments are in properties abroad. Straight from a government source's mouth ang chica na 'yan ha! Apparently, the family already owns numerous buildings around the Van Nuys Blvd. in L.A. Talk about money laundering!

When not in Spain, she can always visit her son (a failed entertainer), at his newly-purchased house in Foster City (sa true lang, ang hilig nila sa California...bagsak kasi ang property market dun). Si Mon Tulfo dati tanong ng tanong sa column nya ba't ang tagal-tagal daw nitong VIP son sa abroad. E kasi nga naman, nag-house hunting pa. Can you people guess where he got all his moolah to pay for his house, considering that his present government job doesn't really pay much?

(An aerial view of Foster City from Wikipedia)

Because of its location, our sources say, VIP son's house can't be lower than $1 million. After all, Foster City is an area where rich people in San Mateo County live. O dava! Kundi man sya naging superstar dito sa Pinas, at least superstar naman ang house nya sa States!

At eto pa! The son is still having his house renovated, and will put a smaller living area for his alalays at the back! Hwaw! ang laki ng backyard nya ha. Say nyo?! Cash rin kaya ang bayad nya sa property and renovations? Josh!

Just lemme get my hands on the exact address at i-Google Earth ko yan! Abangan.

July 08, 2008

New and improved (or should say old and comforting?)

AS I was revving up Pop's car a few days ago, I channel surfed on the FM radio for something to listen to. To my surprise, Joey 92.3 FM, which used to play lounge music, has now been rebranded as 92.3 xFM.

The songs just brought me back to my high school days when Brother Wayne (Enage) was still on the air playing jazz fusion on KissFM. 92.3 xFM's station ID is so apt: "Light 'N Up", because the music is smooth and cool, just the kind of tunes you'd want to listen to while driving or while reminiscing about your first kiss...uuuuy!

I hardly ever listen to local radio as I am always so turned off by talking heads, DJs in their fake American accents stupidly discussing the issues of the day as if they were the FM versions of their counterparts on AM. Duh. Now we just have great old comforting jazz/crossover music on 92.3. Luvit!

Still figuring out how to import the station on iTunes. But for now, just click here. It works best on Windows Media Player. (Now if we can only get Brother Wayne and his partners to reopen Jazzbox, the world will be a better place to live in.)

* * * *

BTW, I already have one positive comment about my new Song player courtesy of Finetune.com. (Pangs, if you're reading this, I don't know why your comment on the blog hasn't shown up yet. But thanks for the SMS.)

So keep those comments coming. If you guys like the Songplayer and my playlist, I think I'll keep the widget.


WITH the demise of Sonific songspot, that great web site where you could create your playlists to embed in your blog, I have been looking for another site which would allow me to add music to my site once more. So I'm trying out www.finetune.com which was one of the music sites recommended by Blogger. Pls. feel free to drop me a note or comment on what you think about my new song player.

In case you're not into the kind of music I like, you can just stop the player in the window/screen on the left, in the blogroll.

Thanks. Hope you enjoy it.

July 06, 2008

Tingin ko lang, OA sila

ABS-CBN suspends Drilon for 3 months

First Posted 19:59:00 07/05/2008

MANILA, Philippines – Broadcast giant ABS-CBN has suspended news anchor Ces Drilon for disobeying orders not to go to Indanan, Sulu, where she and her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama were kidnapped by an armed group.

In a statement posted on its website, ABS-CBN on Saturday said Drilon is suspended for three months as news anchor of late night newscast Bandila and as Senior Correspondent.

Citing its Standards & Ethics Manual, the ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs said: “While all reporting of conflict and other hazardous environments involves an element of risk, you must avoid obvious danger and not take unreasonable risks…You may move into a dangerous environment only with the authorization of your supervisor." (The rest at PDI.)

HAVING been an editor of few major dailies in the past, I am all for disciplining reporters. I just think three months for Ces is a bit too much. As in, OA na 'yan, just to prove a point. And especially when we all know the network is going to make a killing selling ads for the special report Ces is expected to produce about her team's ordeal.

Kudos to mader Ces for accepting her punishment like a good soldier that she has always been (well, except for that recent oversight). She would not have reached this stage in her career if she never took risks. I think being kidnapped is punishment enough for what she did, and well okay, maybe a month's suspension without pay.

(Shelby Monroe, a reporter embedded with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, learns to fire an AK-47 assault rifle.Photo by Shelby Monroe in newsblaze.com)

But it is all about the news story really, no matter how you think about it. And if I were still an editor, I would rather have a masipag and thorough reporter like Ces, one who takes risks to get an enterprising story, or a scoop, than a reporter who is content on re-writing "praise" releases, and sa totoo lang, ang dami nila ganito ngayon, tamad! They are so lazy in fact, some reporters don't even bother to re-write the PRs handed to them! Just read the papers, the headlines and the stories all look the same.

ABS-CBN should know they have more value in Ces than any of their stupid talking heads who get all riled up making inane comments on radio and TV like they were the most knowledgable persons in the world, but who have never once, spent time in the trenches like the rest of us real journalists ever did. (Bato-bato sa langit...)

Are news stories worth risking one's life? If you talk to dedicated journalists here and around the world, yes, sometimes they are. 'Yun lang pow.

(Disclosure: Ces Drilon was our columnist in the old Manila Standard, and a dear colleague who has helped out in some of my environmental advocacies, by pushing a debate on our issues on air.)

A man and his car (a sequel of sorts)

FUNNY thing, the day my column came out last week, by early afternoon a friend of mine came through with the contact number of her favorite mechanic. And before the end of the day, Mang Vic had towed my Pop’s vehicle to his talyer, with the help of his Kuya Ronnie, the latter a veteran of 10 long suffering years in Kuwait as an auto mechanic, serving Americans.

(Okay, so God didn’t give me a boyfriend this time around...rats! But He gave me a mechanic instead. Two of them to be exact, plus an assistant. It was very clear to me that God had other ideas for me in terms of a relationship, and instead of helping me find a short-time lover to deal with this auto mess, He introduced me to much more interesting people, and perhaps the opportunity to learn something about car repairs. Who knows, I may have some bright future as a mechanic someday?! Ya think?!)

Anyway, by late Saturday morning Pop’s car came back to us fully restored and functioning. I was so relieved, I was almost happy to pay the mechanic off the P5,000 he billed me for the repairs. All I wanted was deliverance from this maddening situation and the chance to finally schlep the machine off to someone else.

Well, as my friend Moana came over on Monday to check on the car—I told you I have no talent for anything remotely auto-mechanical—the effing transport conveyance didn’t want to start again! I shouted for dear old Pop’s indulgence and begged him to make the darn thing come back to life...to no avail. An SOS text message followed by a call to Mang Vic sent him running back to my home almost immediately, possibly sensing my frustration at the idiocy of it all. And I suppose he also wanted to redeem his own reputation, which at that moment I was close to dragging through the mud, convinced I was that Pop’s car was on the fritz again.

As the evening deepened, however, and with Mang Vic’s admittedly semi-inebriated state (you know how these guys relax after a long day of greasing up), try as he might, Pop’s car didn’t have the juice. The mechanic said there now was no electricity to fire up the fuel pump and get the gas to the engine. (Or at least it sounded something like that.) According to him, the antitheft alarm system may have reset itself after the car got fixed and may have drained the electricity.

Duh. All I could do was look at Moana in befuddlement, and asked if what the mechanic was saying made sense. I could tell that Moana was unsure as well, as both of us were only relying on the word of our friend who recommended Mang Vic, that he was completely credible and reliable.

Anyhow, the mechanic eventually called it quits and went home with the promise that he would be back the next day to tow Pop’s car back to the talyer. But before he left, he bid the car goodbye, telling her “Kita tayo bukas, ha,” as he gently caressed its hood. I was amused. But he did tell me earlier that, most often, cars sometimes need attention, just like people. “Kailangan pansin-pansinin mo,” which made me even more pissed at it. It was turning out that owning a car was even more of a headache than owning a pet! Like I can always trust a cat to take care of itself, not unlike me, instead of wanting to be fussed over like a car.

Of course, my Pop treated his car almost with the same reverence, too. His attachment to the blasted thing was such that he didn’t even consider switching it for some of the newer car models available. (I’m surprised he didn’t name the car like my other friends do.) She served him well until the day he died, and he gave her the proper respect she needed.

I suppose the car had long wanted to give up the ghost when she realized that she no longer had Pop to care for her in the loving way she was accustomed to. To us, whom Pop had left behind, we saw her as just another mode of transportation and, especially to me, just one more headache to take on, with the rest of the family responsibilities I had to take over from Pop.

It actually got kinda creepy when Pop died last year, because it seemed the car didn’t want anyone driving her. Her alarm would go haywire as soon as we shut her doors, not wanting to be switched off, and despite us hitting the key lock switch repetitively. She would only calm down whenever I would call out loud to my Pop to let us drive her to our destination. Wooo....

So with Pop’s birthday coming up this weekend, I think his car is missing him again—as we are. She has gone mad in her grief and, consequently, is making everyone else feel just as terrible. She had probably heard me curse under my breath at how difficult she was making my life out to be, along with my “evil” plan to sell her. And just like a scorned woman, she’s rubbing the difficulties right in my face. Serves me right I suppose.

Well, Mang Vic and his kuya have towed Pop’s car back to the talyer, mystified by her stubbornness. I don’t know how soon she will be returned to us but I’m thinking, maybe I should just keep my mouth shut around her, so as not to “hurt” her feelings. Hopefully, by Pop’s birthday, she would be back to her old self, purring much like the great babe that had always served him well, instead of whining and throwing tantrums like a fuddy-duddy old lady.

Well, if she behaves like the latter, there’s always the junkyard nearby I can visit...hmmph!

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photo from BM)

* * * *

UPDATE: The car is working perfectly and purring like a kitten. According to Mang Vic, there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, adding that "parang nagmumulto", in reference I suppose to Pop. Uhm. okay. Well it's his birthday today so I guess it's only just right that the car is fine.

So, anybody wanna buy a Kia Rio 2001? Low mileage (8355 km only), very tipid sa gas (P10/liter), P190k only. Drop me a note.

July 03, 2008

On the Sulpicio ship sinking...(and Joc-joc too!)

THIS is a rather belated reaction to my friend Jessica's question why Sulpicio Lines hasn't been shut down yet, despite the many tragedies it has been involved in.

It just so happens I had a very interesting conversation recently with an official of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), an agency under the Department of Transportation and Communications, and tasked to aid and promote the development of the country's maritime industry. For the simple reason that I never introduced myself as a journalist, as the occasion of our meeting was of a personal nature, I shall not reveal his name.

(What the victims of Sulpicio Lines and their relatives need is a lawyer like the menacing manipulative bitch Patricia Hewes, played by Glenn Close in the super series 'Damages'. Afraid!)

But as we discussed the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars, he said he was pretty sure that "act of negligence", as he put it, will be dismissed like its other cases before. It just so happens, the shipping company has good lawyers, and the victims do not. That's it. (I would also like to venture a guess that the Go family, which owns Sulpicio, is a major contributor to many a presidential campaign, as most business families in the Philippines are.)

As we are already seeing it unfold, many of the victims' relatives are already accepting the P200,000 in compensatory damages offered to them. You can't blame them because these people need money to bury their dead. But the MARINA guy added, this is no skin off the nose of Sulpicio because it's their insurance company which is paying for this and not the shipping company itself, although it did pay the insurance premiums.

He also added that while it is easy to blame the ship's crew for this accident, he said more often than not, it is not a question of competence. "Sometimes the crew do not have a choice. The shipping company, their bosses tell them, 'leave the pier and don't come back.' What will they do? They have no choice but to follow." The MARINA guy also said, for sure the shipping company's management received the notifications from PAGASA, the weather bureau, but probably chose to ignore it. "It's plain greed," he stressed, as he blamed Sulpicio's managers for not heeding the warning and alerts on the typhoon, just so company could make a day's revenue.

The MARINA official said if only the relatives of this year's victims band together, hire a good lawyer, and file a class suit, "they will win!" Mapapasara ang Sulpicio Lines, he averred. And it's about time it was closed, he said, because all the tragedies that the shipping line has been involved in, he said, can be traced to the company's negligence, despite protestations of Sulpicio's lawyers.

So if any great lawyer out there is reading this, perhaps it's time to step forward and help the victims of Sulpicio Lines' and their relatives get the justice they deserve. They need a bitch of a lawyer like Damages' Patricia Hewes to sue Sulpicio's pants off. This isn't exactly a losing proposition for legal eagles out there you know. At the worst, even if they lose the case, any lawyer who takes up the cudgels for these victims will have made a name for himself/herself already.

UPDATE: Sulpicio loses 10-yr-old case

* * * *

AND speaking of belated reactions, the Court of Appeals has just issued a freeze order on the bank accounts of Joc-joc "Fertilizer scam" Bolante, and a few others. Too late the hero. Betcha by golly waw! empty na 'yang mga accounts na 'yan!

July 02, 2008

I've been busy...

I have been remiss in my blogging duties as I try to balance my work assignments, running after potential interviewees, dealing with my Pop's car (which has been acting up again!), and trying to religious log into Facebook so I can extra coins to redecorate my cyberhome in the Yo-Ville application.

To top it all off, I recently started experimenting on editing photos via Adobe Photoshop Express (http://www.photoshop.com/express). While it is currently available for users in the U.S., it doesn't mean we outsiders can't log in. We can become members, as I have done, and use the truly radical features of the site. But be warned that the response time can be veryyy slow. It's still in beta so there are still bugs being tweaked therein, and you may experience frequent stalling on your web browser, especially if you have other sites opened as well. (It works best on a Safari browser btw. Amen!)

But I just love PX! It's great what one can do on a photo editing site...you can literally make colors appear where there are none in the original. And what I recently experimented with were scanned photos from my trip to Batanes back in 2003, when digicams were still not widely used. I was still using my trusty Pentax ME Super SLR on manual in those days, which is a super excellent camera, except that now it's gotten to heavy to lug around especially when I already have an great workhorse in the 3.2 mp Cybershot camera built into my Sony Ericssion K800i phone.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a little bit of what I've done on the PX site...I dunno if you can actually tell that some of the photos have been tweaked (like there are certain pics where the contrast was awful, so I had to fix that and make some colors "pop"). Photoshopping has been given a bad rap these days; PX is there to show you how amazing it can actually be.

Click http://akosistella.photoshop.com to check out my photos. Tell me what you think.

Btw I'm writing this paragraph and trying to publish this entry from my Palm Treo 680 via Opera mobile as my Bayan DSL has decided to give out tonight. Rats! Paging Bayan service support!