Monday, September 21, 2015

Johnnie Walker and Romi Garduce

Last Friday, September 18, we saw ourselves braving the drizzle to attend the Johnnie Walker launch of it's newest campaign, Joy Will Take You Further. I usually don't get invited to this kind of events. But hey, we got a VIP invite from the man of the hour -- Romi Garduce. 

Romi happens to be one of the eight or so global ambassadors for Johnnie Walker. He's in league with Jude Law. Ha ha ha. Now, did I mention that Romi's penchant for going after his dream to see the world did not just end with his being able to successfully climbed Mt Everest? Yes, he has seen the world from all the seven summits of the world! Few people can ever claim that.

Friday night was the launch of its new TV ad and campaign. It's exciting. It's exhilirating. Just like Johnnie Walker. 

Watch out for timeline 00:22. Makes you proud a Filipino made it to the roster of these elite group of achievers. 

Am not a whiskey fan. But I tremendously enjoyed my cocktails that night. It's smooth and suave. Even the one with just ice on it. Whatever you call it. 
Mixed with joy. 
What I particularly liked about this night is that I saw some friends. And met new acquaintances who shared their perspective in life, much different than mine. Oh, how interesting. 

So, yeah, next time I get invited, I'd probably not think twice anymore. 

Get your own taste of Johnnie Walker with its wide-array of labels-- red, blue, black, gold, double black. Name it. 

Cheers! Keep Walking. 



Sunday, September 13, 2015

Kate's Dedication

My mother took care of Kate the moment she came out of my womb. She helped me during those difficult nights when the baby is incessantly crying in the wee hours of the morning and I didn't know how to comfort her. She'd wake up and take charge. 

We knew that she wouldn't be Kate's primary caregiver for a long time. So, when she had to go home soon sometime in August, we organized Kate's dedication so she can be part of and witness it. 

On August 9, we invited our close friends who would be Kate's Godparents to Greenhills Christian Fellowship for the very short and intimate ceremony. 

She was too excited hours before the ceremony that she promptly slept on the ceremony itself.

Ninong ko si Max. For lack of imagination, we chose Max's Restaurant as our venue for the reception. It rained so hard we feared no one will show up. Yet, friends upon friends arrived bearing gifts and sunny smiles despite the gloomy weather. 

We thank God for the blessing of excellent health, generous friends and for God's faithfulness in our lives. 

Thank you to all of our family and friends who gave wonderful gifts -- of your time, of your resources. Even those who weren't able to make it, sent their love through gifts. We appreciate the thoughtful toys, clothes and cash gifts. The money you gave will go to her college fund! <3 <3 <3

In a sea of gifts. She didn't know where to begin.
Our little rascal, Sofia Katherine would like to express her gratefulness, for your love, gifts and prayers. 

See you all on her first birthday. 



Monday, August 3, 2015

We Were Liars

Some people go to the spa to de-stress. I, on one hand, like to go in literature heaven. 

My week was very exciting, interesting and crazy -- short of being a heart-attack inducing kind. We were running on adrenaline beating a deadline and we all went around the world looking for someone, a team, an individual who can resolve an issue for us. We've touched based with colleagues from all available time zones. It was heady. It was toxic. 

But, oh boy, it felt good. We were on a high. I was thriving in it. But in between those moments is a trough... at this point, I need a good read to stabilize my world. Make everything upright again. 

So, I selected from my iBooks shelf the book, We Were Liars by e. lockhart. I didn't know what to expect. It didn't look extraordinary but I started reading anyway. 

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

The first few chapters made we wonder if it was worth pursuing. There was much rambling. I thought all along that it was just one of those young adult novels that glorify teenage angst. 

Something though compelled me to turn the pages. Each page is painfully heartbreaking. Inner conflict must be the most troubling of all conflicts. And when you're young where and whom do you anchor? 

It's a story of a privileged teenage girl who lost a memory of her entire summer. She comes from a family of old money and trust funds. Of relations that pin their future on the will from their patriarch's fortune. 

She suffers from debilitating migraines and headaches while she strives hard to reconstruct the events leading to her ailment. But it's elusive. She has selective amnesia. She weaved through daily life occurences and memories. She grasps at shreds and snatches of conversations to understand what had happened to her and the family. What has happened that affected her entire extended family's existence. 

The reveal in the end was not what I expected. I kept on thinking she's going to get better and be well. Instead, in the end I cried with her. 

That summer in her desire to teach her family a lesson about how temporary possessions are; that in an instant it can be gone so your happiness and future should not be pinned on them. In a night of youthful brazeness, she and her cousins committed arson. 

Tragically, it turned out fatal. The people they sought to punish for being materialistic lost more than the antiques, fine arts and collectibles. Young, promising lives were lost because of one single act -- the arrogance of the young, its devastating destructiveness. 

And so I wept with Cadence. 

Beautiful, beautiful story. 

What was on your night table this week? Or at your reading corner?



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Container Gardening

The biggest downside to big city living is the lack of space. There is hardly a plot of land for any attempt to cultivate a garden, never mind the dream of a true pocket garden. Lately, I have been caught by the nesting bug. 

I am always on the lookout for any greens that can be added to our tiny apartment to make it seem more livable. And to allow it to breathe. There are still a few more pieces I would like to plant but I think what I have now is a good start. 

After much false starts, I actually did the the digging and re-potting of the plants we have at home. 

A few weekends ago, I went to the hardware store to buy my gardening tools. 

Then two weekends ago, we went to Sonya's Garden and saw these gorgeous herbs. 
Tarragon and Mint. Plus, Kira's gifts: succulents. 

Basil. And the castaway plants from a conference I attended. The aloe and that other plant I had since summer. 
I live on the fourth floor so I usually line them up on the balcony floor to avoid any accidents especially when it's windy. 

I patted myself for a job well done. I managed not to kill any of my potted friends yet. Then, my mom shared on what she had done with our left over vegetables. Curious we went to our laundry area. And these are the potted plants thriving there... which by any measure look better than mine. 
Kangkong. We can harvest in a few weeks!

This plant is the healtiest among the potted ones I have. 
I also have greens rooting in water placed either in vases or in used bottles. 

This weekend made me realize that I can have my own potted vegetable garden for fresh ingredients to our home-cooked meals. Or just for garnishing on dishes. 

A while ago, I planted cherry tomato seeds. Hopefully, I'll see some sprouts in the next few days. In my wish list are a grafted pine tree, a lemon tree, lettuce and potted hydrangeas. 

So looking forward to the next long weekend to scour the city for plants and nice pots. 

Do you wish to have your own pocket garden, too? What have you planted so far?



Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer Reads

It's no secret that I love to read. I can spend hours and hours getting lost in a book. But life has dealt me a different card this year. Motherhood seem to require all of my energy and time to care for my beautiful baby. 

For months I had been too lazy to read. Yet one day I found myself in the bookstore, grabbed some titles. I started reading again. And I downloaded dozens of titles on my iPad, too. 

This summer, my reading list is as varied as the genre you can stumble into. 

1. Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern

I have read some books of this Irish writer. And they were good. She's a contemporary writer who does not follow the usual romance formula. So I picked this book. 

And I tell you, it's such a painful read. It's a story about a man and a woman who were best friends as kids, geographically separated in adolescense but kept the friendship despite the distance. Chapter after chapter, there is an undertone of mutual attraction, love, if you may call it, but a series of unfortunate events in each others life have prevented them from being together. 

Decades later they have come to accept that there can be nothing more between them but friendships. However, in a twist of fate and in the twilight of their lives, the universe aligned. 

The story closed with Rosie finally achieved her goal of being a hotelier by opening her own B&B. One night, she jogged down memory lane by reading her old letters. And the last one was of Alex, professing his love. It's a missive that was written years ago but did not reach Rosie until recently. As she pined for all those lost years, the bell rang. Waiting by the reception is the love of her life -- Alex. 

It's a modern love story that reminds me Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I'm not saying the quality of writing is the same. But there were parallelism. The heart aches, the long stretches of time, the unrequited love, the loneliness, and the hope that springs eternal. And that love conquers all, in the end.

Tearjerker, I know. 

2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

If you liked Gone Girl, you will love this. 

The protagonist Rachel is a flawed character -- alcoholic, loser. 

Everyday, she makes up stories about a couple who lives across the tracks where her train to London would pass by. She paints a picture of them living a perfect life. A contradiction of her dire circumstances. At the onset you would think that she's just a wacko. Given the fact that she's a pretender -- commuting to a job she no longer has on a daily basis, sticking to a schedule she no longer need to keep, it seemed odd to be the focal point of this thriller. 

You hate her character. You will despise her through and through. Rachel personifies the anti-thesis of woman empowerment. She's a goner. 

But a string of event puts her in the middle of the life of the people who live across the tracks. A dead woman (the wife in the perfect couple) set the stage for the drama (more of it) on how the storyline progresses. 

There were dragging points but it's mostly a page-turner. And a few scenes that take your breath away -- they scare you. But it's the kind that makes you want to prod on to find out what unfolds. 

I love the resolution of the story. There is just the right amount of justice, intrigue and hope. The kind of recipe that keeps me interested with the other works of the author. 

3. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. 

This is the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians. It's chick lit. So, don't expect too much. But boy, this book is hilarious, sprinkled with intrigue. It makes you cringe at times. Better to read this after you're done with Crazy Rich Asians. You'll understand the characters' backstories more. 

I know these were my summer reads but the rainy season brought back that usual longing to just curl up in bed, sip coffee and be entranced by the pages of your book of the week. 

What's on your reading list? I still have The Rosie Project and This is How You Lose Her on my bookshelf. 

This is How You Lose Her on my bookshelf. 



Monday, June 1, 2015

Letter to Kate

1 June 2015

My dearest Kate, 

Happy sixth month, darling!

We celebrated your half-a-year ten days ago. In the flurry of things, we were only able to take your sixth month photo the next day. 

I am writing to you because I want to start a tradition of putting in a journal my thoughts, my memories, my hopes and apprehensions concerning you. I would have opted to write in a paper journal but experience tells me that papers get lost, pages eaten by moths. And so I have decided to use this digital space as our memory keeper. 

When you're old enough to read, perhaps the Internet has evolved then. And the Internet of Things has taken on a more 'tangible' meaning to the everyday life. But as I'm writing this, we only have a vague sense of what it will become. One thing for sure though, we know that there is a permanency in the worldwide web. Even if this letter gets deleted, erased, corrupted or purged, somehow if you look hard enough, you will stumble upon it at some point. Before I digress further, am ruminating on your sixth months in this world. 

Exactly on your sixth month to the day, we parted for the first time. I was to attend a five day event for my work. I stayed in a hotel (Sofitel Philippine Plaza) in Manila, about 30 minutes away from our home then. It may seem not considerable but in our time the traffic was horrible and unpredictable, and the event-hours extend until late into the night. Hence, my decision to sleep away from you. 

You have to know that this was the very first time that you and I weren't sleeping in the same bed. Saying goodbye at the lobby of our condo was hard; it felt like my heart was being ripped away from me. And there you were too innocent to know that Mama is not coming home for the next five days. You were only too happy to be outside -- because it's what you love to do. Your idea of fun is being outside the house -- in the hallways, pool area, lobby, wherever there are people you can socialize with. 

At such a very young age, you like cheering up people especially the old ones. There is one grandpa who is smitten by you because you always light up whenever you see each other by the elevator area. 

You smile, coo and laugh at other babies and their nannies. In return, you are rewarded with morning greetings of Hello, Kate! everytime, all the time. Oftentimes, I overhear neighbors inquiring about you when you're not outside yet by seven o'clock in the morning. My heart swells knowing how blessed I am that in my imperfections and shortcomings, God has blessed me with a happy child. 

On the last day of my business conference, you fetched me with your dad and grandma. Your feet bounced and your widest grin greeted me. The first embrace we had squeezed my heart so hard I was afraid I would embarrass everyone by crying. I was too ecstatic, too overjoyed to see you, I almost forgot to kiss your dad in greeting. 

It was short-lived though. You cried your heart out when the novelty of being held by me wore off. You frantically searched the hotel room for your other mama. You cried buckets. And your tears were so huge I gave up comforting you and surrendered you to the other woman in your life. I would have been jealous by your fierce and young love to her, if she's not my mother. I have never been so grateful in my life until that moment -- other working mothers do not have the same luxury I enjoy -- the care and love of a grandma of her apo (grand daughter). 

It took a long while before you were comfortable again to be with me. We played around; gawked at the pretty surroundings, the enchanting Manila bay and the charm of the resort. 

When it was time to go home, I held you in my arms. The movement of the car lulled you to sleep while I try to imprint in my mind the tightness of your hug around my neck as you lay your face on my shoulder. I feel like I'm the luckiest mother in the world!

Do you know that you like to eat everything around you including my limbs? Yes, you nibble at your stroller, the railing of your crib, my fingers, your toes, my toes... even my face when you're "nanggigil". One would think that we starve you. But then when fed, you play with your feeding bottle. You toss it around, bite the nipple, toss the bottle one more time before you would drink a few drops. Yes, you were a very playful baby. 

We played to our heart's content at night. And even if my eyes were already drooping from sleepiness, a coo and a smile wake me up instantly. I realized that I will never be sleep deprived for long because you are growing too fast. 

One day, you were so bald with only a few wisps of hair on your head. I don't see you for a week, and am struck by your seemingly full head that has grown almost overnight. 

Your face looks different everyday. The tiny changes amaze me. I cannot trust my memory for in my mind you looked bigger, longer. Your dad must have snapped over a thousand photographs of you. One afternoon, I decided to walk down memory lane, and there you were so, so tiny. You looked so fragile. It made me wonder how was it possible no one managed to crush you. 

I love calling you, my little kate. Even if you are bigger than the neighbors' babies who are older than you. I love telling you stories. I love singing my made up song for you, all the time. 

I love waking up with you. You are the prettiest sight everyday. There are no Monday blues with you. 

When I am itching to travel, I turn to my books so I can hop around the world without leaving you. Yes, one day, we will go on a world adventure together. We will scale mountains and skyscrapers, we will dive in the history of the world, and we will lounge in the grand vistas of nature's beautiful landscapes. We will catch the dancing of the lights, of the aurora borealis of the northern skies in Europe, see the geysers and visit the fjords. Admire the works of the masters and commune with nature. 

For that I cannot wait for you to be a little bit grown up so that we can get started on a grand adventure. For now though, I will sleep and dream of beautiful places... wake up with this stunning view. This, I wouldn't trade for the world. No matter the itch if you're not in it. 

I love you, my little rascal.