Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gifts Galore!

I still believe in Santa. Even if I know that it's just bollocks. But it's part of my childhood that I retained, unconsciously. I've just assigned attributes to my adult Santa. They can be my loved ones, friends or colleagues. 

I love the joy of ripping off gift wrappers. I relish the joy of being pleasantly surprised. 

This year, I've been blessed with new friendships that widens my horizon, old friendships that continue to blossom, opportunities that are ripe for the picking and that general sense of well-being. And as the season of gift-giving flourish, I've received my fair share of material as non-material presents. Some of the things I received that tickled my imagination.
Me-an thinks that am a foxy lady <3
Inside that bag is a kick-ass pair of jammies!
cute amethyst cocktail ring.
just the right tool I need to keep my wires organized. thanks Mara!
bag organizer from Erica!didn't know I need to have a new one until I got this. spell love.
cute and yum. thanks, Ed!
 These are just some of the love I received that I had a chance to take a picture of. Am feeling the love. 



Life's Tragedy

We've always equated the Christmas season to be of celebration, of merriment, of sharing. It's a holiday from our normal lives. Just a few days before the Christmas Eve, a tragedy happened. 

In the most unlikely places, two cities in Mindanao experienced a flash flood that claimed hundreds of lives. In one night, people perish and properties lost. It's devastating to know that it could have been prevented. Illegal logging is cited as one of the culprits of this tragic event. We could have been better stewards of the environment. 

And coming from the ravages of Typhoon Ondoy in Manila and Typhoon Reming in Northern Luzon, I thought we've all learned our lessons. Apparently, logging is still an active business in Mindanao. Sad, really sad. 

On one hand, it reminds me of how futile our own efforts are. Life can be just taken away from us in an instant. It comes like a thief in the night. No one is prepared, enough. And no one is spared due to his vast wealth or political standing. Death is a great equalizer. 

Hopefully, we have truly learned the lessons this time. And that our collective consciousness as a country will ensure that we take better care of the environment to prevent another catastrophe. 

The Filipino resilience is an admirable trait. We've always been like a bamboo. We have the ability to bounce back regardless of the intensity of the wind. And our sense of brotherhood is so strong that everyone rallies to help in whatever way we can. 

The good news is there is hope. Ironically, it's the message of the season -- hope in the love of the savior who took our place in the cross so that we may have life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Big Red Party

I was in my freshman year in High School when I attended my first grown up Christmas Party. It was also my first foray into the world of Catholic school. I can still vividly remember the theme that year, Red Christmas. 

Strange as it may seem but I decided against wearing one even if I had a perfectly nice tiered red dress hanging in my closet. Spell deviant. Instead, I came in black and white. I was totally having a blast until a classmate, a boy at that, told me why my outfit looks like am off to the gym. That sent me crashing to earth. Ouch. 

And so through the years, I danced around themes on Christmas parties. If memory serves me right, there were only too few occasions that I have followed the theme. Only when it suited my peculiarities. Or if the outfit can be put together based on my basic black wardrobe. 

This year's theme was The Big Red Party. So, naturally I came in...

Black in a sea of red :-)
Luckily, there was no scrooge to burst my bubble. There were quite a number who opted to come in their color of choice. It didn't mean though that we were less thrilled with the red theme. It's just the way it is. 
The Photo Booth by the foyer is a nice touch, as always.
Year after year, I think our event organizers aim to outdo the year before. We've always set the bar high. Last year, we were in Republiq. The clubbing scene has considerably evolved over the years. It was quite a party, at the most happening club in the metro. For this year, it's at Hotel Intercon's, Icon. 

We definitely had a great time. And we were floored when Gino (Gigi) and Fran of RX Monster Radio appeared; they were our hosts. We were on a fan mode the whole night. So, we just had to have our picture taken with them. Most especially Gino. teehee. 
 Big Red Party Hosts: Fran & Gino (RX 93.1 Monster Radio DJs)

The night was amplified more by the production numbers prepared by each floor. We supported our teams with gusto. So much that the next day, I had a really bad voice. 
the 7th floor team on their interpretation of Mama Mia
The Little Mermaid complete with bubbles that almost made me trip on the sidelines :-)
The 10th Floor's winning rendition of FAME!
The 11th floor's version of the Sound of Music was hilar!
 Of course, the branches didn't come unprepared. Everyone's in fun competition mode. 
The Taft Branch.

Before our hosts' bid adieu, we girls are in ultra fan mode.

Never mind if it's hazy. At least we have a memory to dwell on :-))
Adding to the night's excitement was the announcement of raffle winners -- big and small. Pre-drawn and on the spot. Just like any raffle event, this a non-event for me. Didn't win any. Never mind, the dancing that came after just lifted the fog of momentary sadness out of me. 

The music was really great for dancing. And I've seen those who were really smooth on the dance floor. And we had a jolly good time. Although, the DJ's playlist kinda confusing at times. 

beat or no beat, everyone danced the night away!
What's a party without a li'l booze? This party just had the right ingredients; good food, good music and open bar!
with our watered-down mojito :-)
they've got the killer moves!

With Djinji, the glowing bride-to-be
And a Christmas Party wouldn't really be complete without the requisite snap shots. 

Beneath the sweet smile is a grumbling belly.
nice to party with good friends :)

Ridiculously long queue to the buffet station! Just goes to show there is really no pa-sosyal to an empty stomach. Or are we office rats not just the party-phile we aim to be one night in a year? So, we pose for the camera to distract ourselves.    

When the party was over, I thought there were some really nice individuals that rocked the red color. Color blocking becomes them. Then, I saw a series of pretty pictures of the Creative Girls. I just had to include them in this post. Here's one for a taste test.

                          A winner in my book! Mira, Tin, Mau, Joanna and Aza. You girls look glam!

The Barrio Girl has gone a long way... from the nondescript school gymnasium to the most happening clubs in the city. Yes, I've assimilated in the big city but I still get intimidated at times especially in big gatherings like this. They just don't know it.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Dinner at Barcino

'Tis the season to celebrate friendship!

Last Wednesday, we joined the multitude who celebrate the season. Like everyone else, our version is comprised of dinner and gift-giving. A week before the dinner date, we picked our Christmas baby. And an email blast was sent so that everyone can express their wishes. A day or so later, we already have a working wishlist board. 

For a very minimum amount as the price of the gift, everyone of us went crazy imagining what would truly be that something we wish to receive. As this is an adult version, ahem, we are really trying to be grown ups, we responded with fervor that item that we fancy to receive. I, for one went crazier than everyone else because I almost wished for the moon. One of my friends brought me back to earth when she emailed back saying I should stick to the budget. Sobered, I asked for a pair of non-brand jammie :-). 

Because we worked in Avon, we went together to Greenbelt 5. But we dispersed as soon as we were out of the parking lot. Ha! We had to buy yet our gifts! Mind you, we had just a few minutes to spare but we were determined to take great pains even in shopping, even in selecting the gift wrapper. 

At 7:30pm, we all trooped to Barcino at Greenbelt 2. Our tummies were already grumbling by the time we got there. Good thing Kat, Erica, and Me-an had the good sense to order ahead. 
Always ready for the camera -- Erica & Me-an. These girls rock it!
Tres Marias: Mei, Erica and Me-an.
Yes, the first thing they ordered is a pitcher of sangria. 
A pitcher of sangria (P840) quenches the thirst.
I must say, service is fast in this tapas place. Our food arrived in no time, at all. 
Pretty hand? That's Kat's. Food: Fideua (P395). It's crisp noodles with shrimps, drizzled with mayonnaise. The lime gives it a certain tartness that counter the richness of mayo.
Datiles con Bacon (P195).
We had Paella Negra (P375) and Tapas Gourmet (P725). In light of the state we were in, we just forget to take snap shots. 

Customary to all our dinners, the conversation continued long after we were filled to the brim. And no one has thought of the exchange gift ceremony, yet. Hahaha. 
Now, I remember why couldn't leave yet. Mara and Mars are still a no-show. They double-booked themselves, ahem.
We wanted dessert at Bizu. So, we paid our bill and head there. At Bizu, we ordered coffee and its famous macarons. But the most memorable is the moment of discovery of who our mommy is and the gift that we kinda know what yet we still believe in being surprised. Labo. Hahaha. 
Bizu Macarons (P45 each). Yum.
Bizu Cake.
Cafe Mocha (P145)
 When the excitement couldn't be contained anymore, we just had to wing it. 
These are the treasures waiting to be unearthed!
Merry Christmas, gals!
And then, the kicker of the night. Me-an has outdone everyone. She brought her gifts for us. Aw.
Great gifts come in small packages :-)
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Skin Care Alert!

They say that great skin is the foundation of beauty. Lucky for those who have been born with good genes they're predisposed to having soft, smooth and supple skin. For the rest of us, we need help, every now and then. 

In my adolescent years, I only worried on the occasional zit or the threat of it. My aunt, who didn't know better, made me use astringent on my skin. What I distinctly remember is that whenever I do use it, my skin gets that tight feeling and it becomes flaky. Other than the usual oiliness that I have to combat, I had a relatively worry-free adolescent years.  

When you're in your early 20's, your skin is at it's peak -- glowing and healthy. But the smog and pollution, plus stress can take a toll. It dulls the skin and all the early signs of aging show up. When untreated, you'll just be aghast at the sight staring at you in the mirror. 

Because I am one person who doesn't want to fuss so much about my skin, I keep my regimen to a minimum. I just do a basic skin care program: cleanse, tone and moisture. Then, there's the barely frequent specialization on problem areas such as the eyes for crows feet and under eye circles, laugh lines along the sides of the mouth and worry lines on the forehead and even that squint line in between the brows. 

I also want to get value for money. Good thing I work for a beauty company. At least I get a little more information on what works and what doesn't. All these years, I have come to conclude that my skin responds well to the Anew line of Avon. It's a high-tech line of skin care products that delivers the result of professional dermatological procedures at the comfort of one's home and at a fraction of their cost. 

And because I am from Avon, I get to try any new line that gets introduced. And because I am in a perpetual search for a product that costs less but will help delay or turn back the time, I submit myself to road test each one that comes along. My vote, hands down, goes to Anew Rejuvenate. 
Anew Rejuvenate.
I believe it's what keeps me looking younger than most of my contemporaries. 
Being 30ish is not a bad thing, at all.(Needless to say, I love anything purple or shades thereof. Dress: Ilaya at the Archeology section of Rockwell Power Plant Mall. To hide my very chunky arms, I wore an H&M cardigan.

What about you, what's your beauty arsenal? Share your beauty secret. 

Disclaimer: Yes, I work for Avon but am not writing this for the company. It's my personal testimony of how effective this line is.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mamou Too!

My girlfriends and I have a rehearsal of sorts. Our Christmas dinner would be on 7 December yet. But last Friday, 2 December, we had this brilliant idea of a Friday pampering night slash bazaar trek. Come night time however, we discarded the nails session as we were all famished. 

We didn't make any prior reservations but we have already made plans to eat at Mamou Too at Rockwell Power Plant Mall. I just can't get enough. You see, I had my first Christmas Dinner with my former roomie Judy at Mamou in Serendra in Bonifacio Global City. The food is just so great that I didn't mind coming back with just a few days in between. 
Girls' Night Out. (L-R) Me-an, Erica, Mara, Armin, Moi and Mei


We really don't like to cam whore but we want to look back to this night with fondness. And so we snapped away. To us, bonding means either coffee, food or both interspersed with hearty conversations. Here's what we've partaken.
Linguine Al Nero (P325). Never mind the black ink that may coat your teeth jet black. 

Lamb Tapa with Salsa Pina (P395). Still Erica's order. She doesn't eat much, actually. Lol.

Venison Curry with Buttered Parsley Rice (P395). Mara's scrumptious choice.

Adobo Flakes with Bettlenut Red Rice (P295).

There's a long list of choices in the menu but we just have to order the same -- Mei, Armin and Me. Ha ha.We're crazy like that. 

Then, I had this bright idea of ordering a bottle of red wine. It made the night more festive. And I must say, it made me so buzzed and woozy. I couldn't stop laughing all through the night.
California Red (P1150). Chilled, eh?

All through the night, our dinner was peppered with anecdotes of our life in the office, the latest in showbiz as disclosed in twitter and what have you. It's really good to be spending the night with people you respect and you want to be friends with. 

After dinner prettiness.

We closed the restaurant that night. But the night was still young so we head to the nearby bazaar at the Rockwell Tent. We roamed around, tried some interesting jewellery, checked out some knickknacks and bought some gift stuff. 

As I've said, this is just a prelude. Tomorrow night is our real Christmas dinner complete with exchange gift, the works.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Manila, Manila!

Back in the province, when we were just little children, Manila is synonymous to Luneta Park for us. That is before the gigantic malls have taken over the landscape of metropolitan Manila. So, you can just imagine the fantasies that we conjure in our minds as we daydream of that day when we can finally set foot in the country's capital. 

Many years later, I grew up and got side tracked by life and other events. I've forgotten about it. Then, in a twist of fate, I now consider myself a resident of the Philippine capital. Yet, it took me many years to finally take a leisurely time to get to know this landmark. 
The National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal at the Luneta Park.
When I found the time, it was just perfect. We chose to visit it on the commemoration of the Philippine Independence, June 12. Very symbolic, eh? Here lies the man who showed us Filipinos that indeed, the pen is mightier than the sword. 
The martyred hero.
He taught us the concept of nationalism and instill the virtue of knowing your identity as a people. And loving your skin color and language. Walking around park is sort of a wake up call. Inasmuch as you have to embrace the new world, you have to always go back to your roots. You don't turn back from it in order to move forward. 

Zarah and I.
This wall could speak.

While we roam around Luneta, one has to realize that this is not the figurative walk in the park! It covers such a big area that you feel as if you've walked an entire city. Zarah was our impromptu history guide. She took us back to the events that led to Rizal's martyrdom and what did it mean then and now. Analysis thrown in, opinion tossed by our small group as we enjoyed the view. Quite a respite from the usual gossip in everyday life. ha ha ha. 
Luneta Park plays a significant role in the country's identity; it marks Km. 0.
Adjacent to the park are art installations that dot the stretch of Roxas Boulevard. 
Dancing Rings by Olympic Sculptor Jose Datuin.
Beautiful mural.

In my bucket list, Luneta Park has been crossed out already along with Intramuros, the historied fortress of Manila. But I intend to do another Manila Walk again. This time with the Walking Man of Manila himself, Carlos Celdran. 

Until my next tour of my own city. 
Hello from Manila.