Friday, December 14, 2012

I Retitle this Film as 'Emma'

While TV surfing, I chanced upon a movie called Peacock. It was close to its ending but I continued watching anyway. I was drawn to the lead actress. She looked familiar but I can't quite place her. It turned out it was Cillian Murphy in drag! I scrambled to watch it online and here's my review of the film.

John Skillpa (Murphy) grew up with a controlling and abusive mother, who died one year ago, in Peacock, Nebraska. He is a bank clerk and suffers from multiple-personality disorder. Every morning, his secret alter-ego, Emma, cooks, cleans, and does household chores for him. One day a freight train caboose derailed into his backyard, while he is out as Emma. When the neighbors came to help (and of course nosy around) they thought she is John's wife. Forced to live in public as John and Emma, a personality power struggle ensues. Added to the mix of townspeople are Fanny (Susan Sarandon), Maggie (Ellen Page), Tom (Josh Lucas), and Edmund (Bill Pullman). The film ends revealing who triumphed (?) over the two.

This indie thriller boasts of an excellent list of talented actors. They did not disappoint. True, some scenes are just plain unbelievable (Emma's bobbing adam's apple and still no one suspects she is a he)  and the whole movie is some sort of homage to Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Psycho. The theme, the subtle creepiness, the motel vacancy sign, even the title (which should have been 'Emma') reminds the audience of Hitchcock. But I think Murphy's acting comes close to Anthony Perkins'. Okay, maybe not that close but he definitely showed his thespic range here. I also believe that a good psycho-thriller makes the viewers analyze characters, plots, and endings. Peacock did just that. Although some may argue that the ending is not as exciting as they'd want it to be, I think it's just perfect for this particular film. Not all movies should be action-packed and extravagant, some could just be a quiet, understated, and thought provoking experience. I give Peacock a rating of 4/5.


-Faye

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snack Attack

My sister and I are HUGE fans of food... Talk about stating the obvious. :)) We've blogged a lot of meals in the past but this time, I'd like to tackle those delightful little things called snacks. Here's what we're raving about recently:

1. Tub of Happiness
     Chef Tony's Gourmet Popcorn brought sophistication to this favorite movie munch. It comes in different flavors from simple to nutty, classic to new recipes. They guarantee high quality since there's no trans fat, preservatives, and the likes in their popcorn. Also, their special plastic tubs keep the product fresh and crisp for days! Although we doubt you could resist it for long. Plus, it's nice to know that Chef Tony's originated in the country. Our faves so far are White Chocolate Parmesan and Caramel.
*Price: 180.00 for the large tub

2. Mogu Madness
     We just can't get enough of Mogu Mogu (Reminds me of Moto Moto's line in Madagascar, "The name so nice when you say it twice")! It's this fruit drink from Thailand that has real nata de coco or coconut jelly. We've tried 6 out of their 9 flavors (We can't seem to find their Apple, Pineapple, and Peach). On top of my list are Lychee and Strawberry while Ate Faye's are Orange and Buko. The only downside is it comes in a 320mL bottle. It's cute to look at but we wish they have 500mL versions. We've heard they have 180mL and 1L in other countries, though.
*Price: 30.00

3. The Other Julie
     We came across a free taste stand while grocery shopping and discovered Julie's Cheese Sandwich. Initially, we thought Julie's Bakeshop had gone big and tapped the groceries. Turns out it's a Malaysian company specializing in biscuits. Hihi. Anyway, we loved it! The biscuit tastes a lot like Fita crackers but its saltiness marries well with the sweetened cream cheese spread in the middle. My mother insisted we buy some. 22 wrappers with 4 sandwiches in each is worth 250.00. Plus it comes in a sturdy purple 2 decked-tupperware.

Now, did I make you hungry or what?

-Martha

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Up with the Sickness

I am sick and yes, still blogging. I had a fever last night and when I woke up this morning, I'm still a bit febrile. But you know what? With all the sore throat and sore muscles going on, instead of feeling crappy, I actually feel great! I've realized that being sick has its benefits, too. I made a list of reasons why:

1. You can take time off from work and not be guilty about it. It's not like you woke up late or you're too lazy... You have a real excuse this time. Haha.

2. Breakfast in bed. Need I say more? Thank you, Mom! :)

3. The special treatment you get. I have to admit, I secretly enjoy the pampering, attention, and 'get well soon' wishes. Hey, even my meanie brother is extra nice to me!

4. Comfort foods! That warm noodle soup or a bowl of your favorite fruit just tastes so much better when you're feeble. Sometimes, when you have a poor appetite, they'd give anything just to make you eat. Even your sinful cravings. Luckysonovabits.

5. You can keep track of your own time. No schedules! You can take a bath only when you want to. You can watch TV all day. You can sleep all day. You get my drift.

6. Weight loss. This is a case to case basis. Illnesses can cause unintentional weight loss at times. It has to do with an increased usage of energy when we're sick. For those who've been dieting to no success, don't deliberately make yourself sick now, okay?

Of course, these luxuries have its limit. You can't be unwell forever. You won't enjoy that, surely. The point of the things I've mentioned above is that you don't get to experience it often. And when you recover and go back to normal the next day, you're still a winner! You get to celebrate life and health. 

But for now, I'll bask in the glories of this rare opportunity.

-Martha

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tita Ateng

Auntie with Mom & me
My mom's Ate, Tita Ateng, is going back to the U.S. soon so we grabbed the opportunity to have lunch with her this afternoon. There is never a dull moment when you're with her. I laughed out loud at her funny stories (mostly of their childhood memories) and listened solemnly at her sound advises (maybe a sermon or two). :)

She's not only my aunt but also my godmother. Truly, time spent with one's family is priceless.


-Faye

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My First Beach

I've never been to the beach before. There, I said it. You see, I don't know how to swim because I have the biggest fear of the water. In my 22 years of existence, each pool party meant lurking on the edge of the pool hanging on for dear life or staying on land manning the grill while my friends splish and splash.

So last October, my girlfriends Ate Noime, Badz, Kat, Wendy, and I went on a trip. It was also Ate Noime's birthday. We stopped by their home and met her family in Bataan. Then, we headed north to see the beach. It was nearly dusk when we arrived at Elmolina Beach in Olongapo, Zambales. As the salty air whipped on our faces along the jeepney ride, my friends excitedly pointed out, "Martha! Look!" and I swear, I'll never forget what I saw... The orange sky, brown sand, palm trees, and sparkling blue water... It was breath-taking.

After eating a hearty dinner, we went for a night swim. Although my friends were a bit scared (I was very scared), we eased up upon finding the beach safe since it was structured to gradually, not suddenly, deepen. When they taught me how to back float, I was a painful student but my friends were patient. Bless them. It was only when I actually relaxed and let myself go (and let God) that I finally did it! After all these years! It felt amazing just floating and looking at the moon and the stars.

The five of us played Icebreakers  before going to bed. We swam again in the morning, soaking up the sun this time. We all got darker skin but we didn't really care. Like Ate Noime said, our tan lines are our battle scars. When we went home, it all still felt surreal to me. I'm so grateful to those four ladies and I'll cherish how they made what I feared my entire life into one of the happiest experiences I've ever had.

-Martha

Friday, October 12, 2012

As One of the Wallflowers

Dear friend,

I've thought about this before and I think I'm a wallflower. I enjoy solitude, reading or writing. I prefer small intimate conversations over mingling with large groups. And more often than not, in a party or crowd, I just watch people do things from a corner, making observations or wondering. For this very reason was I drawn to reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Charlie, a wallflower, anonymously sends letters to someone about his day by day experience in his high school freshman year. He writes about school, his favorite books and music, family, memories, love, the first friends he made- Sam and Patrick, and the things they did which made him feel infinite.

To me, this novel is like a fresher, contemporary version of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye which, incidentally, Charlie mentioned as one of his reading assignments. I must say though, 'The Perks' deserve recognition of its own since it is wittily written through Charlie's musings and is a lot more relate-able in essence than 'The Catcher'. 
"Even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there."
I would have liked the story better if the characters didn't do drugs. I believe drugs aren't necessary to take part of one's growing up. Another thing... I hate spoilers! Shame on them! I'm saying this 'cause without knowing it, I was spoiled of the book's ending (I read a random comment online)! When something was revealed, I wasn't as shocked as I imagine I'm supposed to be. Anyway, I realized 'being shocked' isn't the only point of the revelation. More importantly, it explains a lot of things and makes the reader think. 

All in all, this book is very nice. After reading, the more I reflect and discuss it with my sister, the more I appreciate it. I guess it's just one of those books, you know? I truly gained a handful of lessons. And maybe next time, like Charlie, instead of merely watching in a corner, pondering about life, I'd "participate" more in it.

Love always,
Martha

Daddy's Girls

Last week, Martha and I spent a fun afternoon with our dad. We took him to BonChon for lunch because we think their chicken tastes like his recipe and we wanted to have his opinion.

Aside from our usual order (chicken combo and beef bulgogi), we tried their bulgogi wrap, kimchi coleslaw, fries, and onion rings. We asked him to rate the food but we were not optimistic since he's a tough critic. He gave Icebergs a measly rating of 3/5! So we were taken aback when he declared it 4/5. I guess he finally found his fast food of choice in BonChon. :)

For dessert, I had Quickly's Super Taro Ice with extra Nata. Martha and Dad opted for Dairy Queen's pineapple sundae and choco waffle cone, respectively. After a quick trip to the bookstore and some window shopping, we headed home.

My dad doesn't like to smile in his photos so I had a hard time choosing which ones to put up here.

Anyway, Martha and I had a great time with him and I hope he did, too. We may not be little anymore but in our hearts we'll always be 'Daddy's Girls'. :)

-Faye

Location:
Chicken BonChon - 3rd Flr The Annex, SM North EDSA, Quezon City, Metro Manila
Dairy Queen - G/F The Annex, SM North EDSA, Quezon City, Metro Manila

Thursday, October 11, 2012

When Tablet is Not a Tablet Anymore

When I first heard the word Tablet or Tab, I quickly thought of tablet or tab. Confusing? Well, not really but in my line of work this conundrum may arise more often than you can imagine. So humor me and let me explain that a Tablet is a mobile computer, bigger than a cell phone with touch screen while a tablet is a dosage form one takes when one is sick.

You see, I've recently acquired such a gadget. Though I'm not a techie or anything, I do enjoy learning (nothing bad about owning, too) about new stuff as much as the next person. I will not use much technical terms but this Tab boasts of its Super AMOLED Plus display, the latest Android version, and its light and sleek aluminum body design... In short, the whole kit and caboodle.

This tool alone is a computer, mobile phone, camera, gaming console, library (my favorite feature), audio and video player, and a lot more rolled into one thingamajig. I've had this thing for about a week now but I don't think I've scratched the surface (no pun intended) of its numerous features.

I am continuously fascinated with how our world is being changed (and sometimes dictated) by technology. It is so fast-paced that a new version of the same gadget is on the market in just a few months' time. So technologically advanced that new applications are being invented every day. So cutthroat, this business, that tech companies are suing each other left and right. So lucrative that every advertisement on TV, newspaper, and the internet is about the latest product.

Hmm... I wonder what the next invention will be? Truth be told, I'm crossing my fingers for a time machine. Haha!

-Faye

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Friendly Visit

Last September was my 1st time to visit Zamboanga City. We were scheduled to stay for a week so I was excited to experience another side of our culture. But it was again for work and if history is to repeat itself, I knew I will not be seeing much of the place. I was right. I was mostly at the training site doing what I came there to do.

With Ate Malou and Ate Eppie
I was resigned to being serious and had a 'let's get down to business' mindset that I was surprised when my colleagues reminded me that we will be seeing Ate Eppie and Ate Malou later.

A few years ago, our group conducted a seminar in Cagayan de Oro and they were participants there. Because the group was small, we had more time to get to know one another. Our conversations transcended from work topics to stories of our families. It was also in CDO that we went river rafting. Most of us were first timers so that bonding made it more special.

Speakers-a-posing
Ate Eppie invited us to dinner with her husband. We later met the rest of her family when she took us for a short visit to her beautiful house. We saw them again for the seminar's 'Fellowship Night'.

I did visit the city's market called 'Barter' (I bought a couple of locally made scarves) and the seminar was great but seeing my friends again was the highlight of this trip for me. :)


-Faye

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do

Since I tend to miss out on a lot of great movies (i.e. I might be the only person left in this planet who hasn't seen The Matrix or Transformers), I made a list of those I want to watch. During my free time last week, I began crossing things off the list. Surprisingly, I didn't enjoy the ones I thought I would.

One movie I did like was Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do. It's a 2008 South Korean movie about three teenagers caught in a complicated love triangle. Two best friends, who are members of the band named 'Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do', strive to win the heart of the same girl.

Okay, so the story is quite ordinary, right? BUT it manages to remain interesting and entertaining throughout. I think the music adds a lot of appeal to the movie. Its main OSTs "Waiting for the Time" and "Full of Sunshine" are really good. Also, I'd be a hypocrite not to mention that I was compelled to the screen by the adorable and younger Jang Geun Suk! Aigoo oppa! :")

With all the teen angst, dilemmas, and heartaches in the plot, there's no doubt it's a coming-of-age movie.... It's not the shallow teeny-bopper kind though. As a matter of fact, it's deeply moving, pure, and heartwarming. I have to get a copy of this so I can watch it whenever I want to. Oh! and you should, too.

-Martha

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Sweet Gathering

A few Saturdays ago, we and some friends went to this cute place called Love Desserts in Banawe, QC. We instantly liked the ambiance upon entrance... Who wouldn't be enticed by a room filled with cakes, chocolates, and ice cream, right?

We availed their dessert-all-you-can promo for only P199 and made a joke about teaming up and sort of 'competing' on who's going to eat the most. Team#1 is Jho, Jen, and Tom who called themselves 'Team-bah'. Team#2 'Pata-Team' is yours truly. Last but not the least, Lei, Nicole, Erika, and of course Aprielle who named Team #3, 'Pata-Thin'!

Since there are literally so many goodies to choose from, we'll break it down per station. First is a smorgasbord of pastries, cakes, short breads, muffins, sylvanas, and creme brulee in shot glasses.

At the crepe station, a staff prepares your order while you watch and try to keep your mouth from watering. Haha! You can customize your filling from banana, apple, blueberry, strawberry, and peach. Then you can spread peanut butter or drizzle it with caramel, strawberry, or chocolate sauce! Don't forget to dust it with powdered sugar.

Their ice cream station features eight selection from the brand Big Scoop. Next to it is an assortment of marshmallows, sprinkles, M&Ms, and chocolate chips which can top your crepes and ice creams. There are also fresh fruits if you want to make a banana split (like Jho). We're a bit lost with their chocolate fountain though; There are no skewers so we guess you just have to improvise on how to catch that silky cascading chocolate. :))

The  beverage station is an oasis of red iced tea, milk tea, and ice-blended vanilla, chocolate, taro, and buko pandan. They also have a DIY halo-halo area.

For those who don't have a sweet tooth (like Tom) but would like to try this experience, despair not for this buffet also offers some savory dishes. Almost everyone in the group loved their version of nachos (fried lumpia wrapper with beef, tomatoes, onion, and cheese). They also have lugaw (congee), tuna and chicken empanada, singkamas and green mango (with bagoong), and cheese-stuffed green finger pepper rolls. We can't imagine anyone ordering from their a la carte but they do have it.

So here's the group's Top Five Choices:
1. Nachos
2. Ice blends
3. Pepper rolls
                                                                    4. Avocado ice cream
                                                                    5. Sylvanas

A fun-filled afternoon thanks to our Ms. Organizer, Erika.

Of course we can't possibly sample everything and lost track of the scores, anyway. But in the end, everybody won. And Nicole sums it up for us... I shall return! ;p

Rating (average): 4/5


-Faye & Martha

Location:
Love Desserts - 915 Banawe St. Cor. G. Roxas St., Quezon City

Friday, August 24, 2012

The 411 on Pho' Hoa

For our blog's sake (and yes! my taste buds' as well), I vowed to expand my horizon on food. We have featured different Asian cuisines in our blog already -Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. I'll be featuring Vietnamese this time. Ate Faye took me to Pho' Hoa as my post-birthday gift.

The ambiance of the restaurant is simple and clean. There are other diners when we got there but we were easily accommodated on a booth at the corner. Ate noted that the background music would've been better if it was more ethnic instead of instrumental American love songs. But I dig the fact that instead of the usual condiments, theirs are Vietnamese hot sauce and my favorite...Hoisin sauce

Anyway, it was my first time to try their cuisine so I took a while before placing an order. Everything in their menu was mouth-watering! Here's the catch: It's also good for you! Their motto is healthy eating; Their food items have symbols on the menu: Heart means 'Healthy choice', star for 'Popular choice', red pepper for 'mild spicy', and green bell pepper as 'All veggies'.

For our appetizer, we had Goi Cuon or fresh spring roll shrimp and pork. We were a bit disappointed with the serving size that included eight tiny slices of spring rolls. But it was fresh and chewy. It's delicious-ness was highlighted by the peanut dipping sauce!
Price: 129.00
Category: Healthy, All veggies, & Popular choice
Rating: 4.25/5





Ate Faye went for their Com Ga Nuang Cha Gio (Whew!) which is Vietnamese for grilled chicken and fried spring rolls. Aside from the big serving, the chicken was grilled nicely; giving a flavorful barbecue taste. The sweet vinegar sauce cut the deep-fried taste of the spring roll.
Price: 250.00
Category: Popular choice
Rating: 4/5




Mine was Pho Do Vien. It's their seafood noodle soup which they serve with fresh lemon slice, bean sprouts, and mint leaves on the side. The vermicelli noodles had a bite to it and topped with squid ball halves, juicy shrimps, fish fillet, onions, and green leafy vegetables. The ingredients complimented the savory soup well.
Price: 285.00
Category: Healthy choice
Rating: 4.25/5



More food firsts next time!


-Martha

Location:
Pho' Hoa - G/F Trinoma Mall, North Ave. Cor. Mindanao Ave., Quezon City

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Published in 2003 and penned by Mitch Albom, this book stayed on the New York Times Bestseller list for 95 weeks! An inspiring novel that has a refreshing take on a person's journey through life and death.

Eddie, an amusement park maintenance personnel, died while trying to save a little girl from one of his park rides. He reviews his 'useless' life with the help of the five people he meets in heaven. They are somehow connected in his life, having met them before or not.  Each person who welcomes him there has a lesson for him to learn or realize. Eddie is taught the following: 1. There are no random acts; 2. Sacrifice is a part of life; 3. Forgiveness is a must; 4. Love doesn't end; and 5. Your life has a purpose.

'Fairness, does not govern life and death. If it did, no good person would ever die young.' -The Blue Man

As with most inspirational novels, this too has a lot of 'quotable quotes'. What separates Albom's is that he wrote it simply and directly. He expressed his messages without being condescending and refrained from being too preachy. Eddie died before he realized these five lessons, but maybe we'll learn them while we're still living.

A touching story willing us to hope and believe that everyone has a purpose in life. Definitely, a must read! I can't guarantee you won't shed a tear, though.

Rating: 4.75/5


-Faye

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Overexposed

I've been regretting something lately. I should have bought tickets to Maroon 5's concert in the country this September, that is! Boy, they sold out like hotcakes! It's no mystery though. This pop rock band has gained a lot of fans ever since their debut in 2002... 10 years later and these guys are still making good music!

This is evident in their latest album, Overexposed. It includes the much popularized, dance-able "Moves Like Jagger" and heartwarming "Payphone", featuring Christina Aguilera and Wiz Khalifa, respectively. Other songs that I like are the reggae-infused "One More Night", disco-feel "Ladykiller", and emotional "Sad" and "Daylight". But the ones on top of my list are the sweet ballads, "The Man Who Never Lied", "Wipe Your Eyes", and "Beautiful Goodbye". 

The lyrics are about love, heartbreak, and adultery. Interestingly, all songs in the album are co-written by Adam Levine who also renders his sexy, funky voice as the band's lead vocalist.

Overexposed has not yet lived up to its title, as some songs are still unfamiliar to the public. But they had just launched the album last June so I'm definite that the songs I've mentioned will skyrocket the charts in time. And for now, I have to settle listening to them through my iPod and save up for their next concert. If only this blog has sponsors. Lol! Just kidding! 'Til next time! :D

-Martha

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tip of the Icebergs

Last last week, my sister and I were at the mall with our mom and dad. Ate Faye was craving for ice cream while our parents wanted heavier meals. I wanted both. Haha!

We were passing by Icebergs so we decided to check out their menu. To my surprise, it turns out they have more than just desserts to offer. Here's what we ate:

Super Halo-Halo
So they served the desserts first before the main courses; However, we didn't complain. Their halo-halo was too enticing not to eat right away! You really get the value for your money with all things going in it: 1 scoop each of ube and cheese ice cream, gulaman, saba, peach, macapuno, nata de coco, leche flan, langka, cornflakes, and real corn! Yummmy!
Price: 108  
Rating: 4/5

Ham, Mushroom, and Cheese Omelette
Ate Faye, who's a big fan of eggs, ordered this and became a fan of this dish as well. The omelette is like a big, warm blanket with ham, button mushrooms, and gooey cheese inside. She particularly love the tomato paste sauce that compliments it nicely.
Price: ₱148     
Rating: 4/5
Cheesy Beef Lasagna
My lasagna was served in a deep, hot dish. True to its name, it was cheesy and beefy! I like the combination of flavors, the saltiness of the beef, the tang of the tomato, and the earthiness of the herbs. The pasta was also cooked al dente.
Price: ₱198     
Rating: 3.75/5

Classic Banana Split
We devoured this delicious dessert into splits! Their banana split had, of course, a split banana topped with scoops of vanilla, strawberry, and mango (instead of the usual chocolate) ice cream! Then topped with luscious whipped cream, nuts, and a maraschino cherry. I could bathe in this!
Price: ₱178    
Rating: 4.25/5

Lechon Kawali and Mighty AJ's Burger Meal
Daddy ate a hearty slab of crispy and juicy lechon kawali on rice with sweet gravy and atchara. Mommy's meal was a decent burger with 100% beef patty, lettuce, cheese, and tomato. It went with a side dish of fries and mayo/mustard dip. Both dishes were good enough for Ate and I but when we asked them to rate it, they gave each a mere 3. Haha! My parents are tougher food critics than us, eh?
Price: ₱188 (Lechon Kawali), ₱168 (Burger)
Rating: 3/5

To sum it all, our dining experience had been fun. Not only because of the great meal but also since we shared it with family. <3

-Martha

Location:
Icebergs - UGF Main Bldg. SM North EDSA, Quezon City

Saturday, August 4, 2012

One Fine Night

Posing with her Blizzard
Last night my friend Che and I met for dinner. We decided to eat at Recipes by Cafe Metro, a restaurant that serves Filipino dishes. We shared an order of Chicken Sotanghon Soup and Lechon Kawali with Kangkong. The food was okay. Nothing sensational or anything but the servings were big and the place nice and quiet. The price on the menu ranges from  110 to 280. I'd rate it as 3/5. For dessert, Che bought Dairy Queen's Blizzard. Hers was Double Dutch and Butterfinger for me.

In between bites and slurps, we discussed family, work, future plans, and juicy gossips. We didn't see each other for about six months so there was quite a bit of catching up to do. I had to remind her of the time because her sons will be waiting for her. She said she ordered a present for her father. Someone will deliver it to her in half an hour and asked if I could I wait with her for a while. I said, 'Of course'.
Book-inspired cupcakes

 I was delightfully surprised when Che handed me one of the bags the delivery person gave her. It was a dozen of Alarma's cupcakes decorated with books on top. Her 'Belated Happy Birthday' or 'Happy Belated Birthday' gift, she said. I didn't know what she told the baker but I truly liked the design concept. Very creative. It didn't hurt that the chocolate-banana cupcakes were delicious. What a fun way to end the evening. Thanks, Mare! Sa uulitin! ;p


-Faye


Location:
Recipes - 2nd Level Trinoma Mall, North Ave. Cor. Mindanao Ave., Quezon City
Dairy Queen - 2nd Level Atrium Trinoma Mall, North Ave. Cor. Mindanao Ave., Quezon City

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Celebration of Sorts

If you told me a year ago that I could write, I'd probably answer you with: 'I'm just a reader not a writer. Go bug Martha.' She was her school paper's editor-in-chief (a good one at that), the family scribe and has always been passionate about it.

But then last summer, she had this harebrained idea that we should keep a blog together. She needed a project and pulled me along with it. I didn't know what to think of it, at first. But you know what? I'm glad she did. If it weren't for her I wouldn't have discovered how fun (and liberating) it is to express myself through writing. She helped me unleash another side of me I never would have known.

So, congrats to you dear sister! Here's to one year of working together and to more years of it! Thank you and I love you very much!

-Faye

Think Blots

I'm an introvert. It's not that I don't like mingling with people. Of course I do. But I find it just as enjoyable sitting by my own at home, reading or pondering about things. Sometimes it's hard to express them through speaking. Instead, I rather put it into writing. In all forms, that is.

As a kid, I'd write on our walls with crayons. A few years more, I scribbled entries on my diary. (Dear Diary, I saw my crush today... Haha!) I wrote essays and reaction papers for school; Poems and articles for the school newspaper. My mind was bursting with ideas for potential short stories and novels in the making.

But then college came. I was persuaded to take up a course on Science. Suddenly, I stopped writing. I believe I was disheartened. The girl who always dreamed of becoming a writer took a different path. All I could think of was, 'I'm not meant to be one.'

BUT I WAS WRONG. Yes, I ended up in the medical field (And proud of it!) but it doesn't mean I can't be other things as well. My sister, whose profession is related to mine, never thought she could write either but here we are, aren't we? I've come to realize that writing is a privilege and a right. Anyone can be a writer as long as with passion.

We're very blessed to be able to publish our works easily nowadays. Today, Ate Faye and I celebrate our blog's first anniversary. Cheers to writing! :)

-Martha

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dinner @BonChon

A P410 meal
A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I met up after work to have dinner at a nearby mall. She's footing the bill so I let her decide where we'd eat. She led me to a modern Korean fast food called Chicken BonChon or simply Bonchon.

I was surprised to see that the line at the counter was long. Diners were clearly patrons as the restaurant is tucked in one of the many corners of the mall. Inside was an unassuming, simple design with white tables and chairs and lots of bright lights. I hurriedly grabbed a table (I told you the place was packed) as Martha went to the counter to order.

Sweet and sour
Not long after Martha came back to our place, a server brought our order. Mine was fried chicken with soy garlic glaze, hers was a bowl of beef bulgogi rice. I liked the soy garlicky breading of the chicken, it was really flavorful with a touch of honey sweetness. The meat was also moist and juicy. But you have to have at least two pieces of it to be filled. The beef dish was good but wasn't anything new. It strongly reminded me of Yoshinoya's beef gyudon. Each order was a meal so they came with a glass of iced tea. For dessert, we had their Banoffee Ko-Yo or Korean yogurt. It's frozen yogurt with coffee flavored graham crackers, banana, and caramel sauce. I like that the sourness of the yogurt fights with the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients.

Simplicity is the whole concept of the place. They let the flavors of the food speak for themselves. I would definitely come back to sample their other dishes.

Rating: 3.75/5

-Faye

Location:
Chicken BonChon - G/F Trinoma Mall, North Ave Cor. Mindanao Ave., Quezon City

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Mockingbird's Gift

"You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them." -Atticus Finch
Some years ago, my uncle handed me a book. It was an old personal copy of his, full of underlined phrases. Different from the ones he used to buy me during trips to the bookstore as a kid. I didn't know that it'd be his last gift to me. Having read it for the second time around, I was able to appreciate it more. 

To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel penned by Harper Lee in 1960. Set in Maycomb, Alabama, it depicts racism and the first struggles to change views about it... Which was next to impossible during the '30s. 

Interestingly, this serious issue is tackled from a seven-year-old's point of view. I find this ingenious since the story's drama is both subdued by the natural spunk of a child's narration and yet magnified in the eyes of an innocent. Scout Finch takes us along her adventures with Jem and Atticus, her brother and father, respectively.

The novel consists of various inspiring personalities and stories but Atticus Finch, a lawyer, is one of the noblest characters I've ever read. A mockingbird is used to symbolize innocence in this book and I quote it, 'To kill a mockingbird is a sin... Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.'

I love how the story ends with a twist. This novel doesn't only discuss racism but also other forms of discrimination and injustice. I will always be grateful to my dear uncle for giving me this book... and the valuable lessons that come with it. I dedicate this entry to you.

-Martha

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Inventing Facebook

I have a confession to make. Back in 2010, while all the people were raving about The Social Network, I was busy rolling my eyes at them. I thought it was a ridiculous idea to make a movie about Facebook. That was before I actually got to see the movie and ate my words. Now I understand why it's such a critically acclaimed success. Here's why:

First of all, it is a story of success... An inspiring yet somewhat lonely kind. It depicts how Facebook was founded and how its inventor, Mark Zuckerberg, against all odds and lawsuits, became the youngest billionaire in the world.

Second of all, it was very wittily written. Most lines in the movie are funny and sarcastic. I laughed at the dark humor and was pleasantly amused by how smart and fast the characters talk. The story also takes us deeper to the origins of this phenomenal network and explains how its each feature came to be.

The film was also tastefully edited, making scene transitions in various time lines effortless. Last but not the least, the casting was perfect. The actors portrayed their characters well. Jesse Eisenberg in particular made his extremely intelligent, indifferent, and insensitive role still lovable and relate-able. Andrew Garfield (minus the Spiderman costume) also gave a convincing performance. Heck, I even commend Justin Timberlake's acting here!

Like?
The Social Network is based on Ben Mezrich's 2009 book, The Accidental Billionaires. Zuckerberg refused to be interviewed through the making of the book; hence, didn't approve of the movie. One of Facebook's co-founder and Zuckerberg's ex-best friend, Eduardo Saverin, served as Mezrich's main source however. I guess only they know the real line between fact and fiction in this biographical film.

Nevertheless, I enjoy each time I watch it and will keep encouraging my sister to give it a try even though she's become a Facebook resister recently.


-Martha

Friday, July 20, 2012

Caught Sushi-Handed

Last June, my best friend Lou bestowed me the honor of being his 'partner in crime' as we celebrate his birthday. That lunch slash dinner, we pledged guilty to sushi hoarding and diet-breaking. Lol! You see, he treated me to Sakae Sushi's sushi-all-you-can promo for P399/head at SM North Edsa- Annex.

Upon sitting at our booth, our eyes feasted on the conveyor belt or Kaiten as they call it, bearing various kinds of sushi and sashimi on different colored plates. Like children trapped in a candy store, we started grabbing plates excitedly! If we didn't go buffet-style, we would've paid a fortune since plates were priced per color:

Red/Purple- P99
Green- P79
Yellow- P59
Blue-P39





We enjoyed most of the items we picked such as the california mini maki, *tamago nigiri, *kani salad inari, and crispy fried fish. (Okay, so we didn't know how to call the things we ate then but I researched them for ya.) There were plates we kinda regret taking like their salmon sashimi. But we had a laugh trip watching each other's reaction as we chew and barely swallow it! I'm not a sashimi-fan anyways but Lou said he had better ones elsewhere. 

There were also items we avoided from the Kaiten like the alien-looking sushi topped with neon green fish roe. Their promo comes with bottomless green tea and miso soup. Lou didn't like the soup but I did. It's like a palate-cleanser after we got weary by all the sushi we devoured.

I still relish that day as I reminisce through this blog. Not only did I taste good food, I also got to bond with one of the best people I know. Thank you, BFF! More crimes with you soon! ;)

Lou and me. So Kawaii. :))

Rating: 3.5/5

-Martha 

*tamago nigiri (Japanese). noun. hand-formed sushi topped with sweet egg.
*kani (Jap). noun. crab stick used as sushi ingredient.
*inari (Jap). noun. pouch of fried tofu filled with rice and others.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Ups and Downs at Downton Abbey

Garden Party dresses 1914
I'm not really a period drama dork. Rather I appreciate stories that has some sort of historical background to them. I know Martha would refute this just because I happen to like E.Gaskell's North and South or L. M. Alcott's Little Women or HBO's Boardwalk Empire and very recently J. Fellowes' Downton Abbey. Oh, maybe I am a period drama dork afterall.

Anyway, one can't help but be hooked in this British TV series which premiered in 2010. Its third season is scheduled to start in September this year (I can't wait!). Set in the fictional Downton Abbey estate located in England, the story revolves around the Earl of Grantham, Lord Robert Crawley with his family and household staff (servants as they call it then). It has achieved success on ratings and over-all approval from the critics. In 2011, Guinness Book of World Record recognized it as the 'most critically acclaimed television show'.

Season 1
In the first season, the Crawley's lives were turned upside down when the heir to the Earl of Grantham drowned in the 1912 RMS Titanic sinking. Father to three girls, His Lordship must find a new heir (male) to his fortune, title, and estate. Members of the family struggled to cope and accept their latest predicament. Meanwhile, the servants, lead by Mr. Carson the Butler, tried to keep things running smoothly in Downton. Of course the story is not without budding romances and evil plotting servants. ;)

'We all have different parts to play, Matthew. And we must all be allowed to play them.' -Lord Grantham

Season 2
The second season started with Matthew (new heir) fighting in WWI Battle of Somme. Downton Abbey was turned into a convalescent home for the wounded officers. The family must deal with a couple of scandals they just can't shake. A few characters became casualties of war and the Spanish flu. The season ended with a Christmas Day Special episode.

The superb cast is lead by Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, and Dan Stevens. I can't get enough of the show's beautiful costumes, detailed set designs, wittily written dialogues, and intriguing plot lines.

With that M'lords and M'ladies, I welcome you to Downton Abbey!

-Faye

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Strip Me Away

My travel time to work is an hour or so. I try to keep my day positive amid the traffic jam and overloaded MRT (Metro Rail Transit) rides through a good playlist. Lately, I've been listening a lot to Natasha Bedingfield's Strip Me Away album. It's released last year as an expanded version of her album Strip Me (2010).

The 16 tracks in the album is fused with Pop and RnB, from upbeats to ballads, showing-off Bedingfield's vocal range and versatility. I learned this album to be underrated since most people I ask are unfamiliar with it and upon research, wasn't as successful as her previous ones. This saddens me because I love Natasha! She has this amazing husky voice and she co-wrote all her singles!

In her defense, I found most songs in this album very good. Namely, "Neon Lights", "Put Your Arms Around Me", "Run-Run-Run" (All three are fun, upbeat love songs), "Strip Me" (This title track is all about self-empowerment), "Little Too Much", "Try" (Both have slow melodies and touching lyrics) and of course, my most-played, "No Mozart" (Listen to it NOW and you'll know why). ;)

Also, they added her 2008 hit "Pocketful of Sunshine" in this copy. Some of you may think the album is promiscuous due to its title BUT it's not like that at all! Like I said in my intro, it's inspiring, fresh music that keeps my spirits up when I commute. So whenever you feel down, just think of the song Strip Me as it goes,
"I'm only one voice in a million but you ain't taking that from me."
 Oh yeah.

-Martha

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why I Became an FB Resister

'Hi! My name is Faye and I am a Facebook addict.' This could have been my introduction in a rehab facility for FB addicts. Well, if such a place exist, I mean.

There were over 800 million FB users when I decided to quit it cold turkey style. First to notice that I'm MIA (Missing in Action) were my gaming friends. They were worried about me and asked my sister for my whereabouts and my general 'well-being'. At first I was touched that they care so much but then I realized they're probably just curious why I haven't sent them the 'gift' or 'energy bar' they asked me. :) Just because they can't find me in Facebook doesn't mean I'm not okay. Sheesh!

Then my RL (Real Life) friends started to text or e-mail me. Some asked if everything's okay or 'Why haven't you been in FB? Why?' Some even gave me the cold shoulder for a while because they thought I 'un-friended' them. That last one made me laugh. :D I have to reassure them that we're still friends even if I'm not using FB anymore.

The thing is, I've outgrown Facebook. It's ironic because the reasons I stopped are the ones that got me to use it in the first place. The thrill of finding old friends, to catch-up on each other's lives, then you keep in touch, and before you knew it you're being updated with every single thing that has happened to them since they wake up in the morning 'til they say 'Good night! Time for some shut-eye!' I'll give you something to shut your eye. Just kidding.

Don't get me wrong, I love catching up with my friends but when is information shared became too much information? People in FB love posting pictures: of themselves, places visited, friends met with, meals ate, and most especially of their love ones. One classmate even posted a picture of his toddler son taking a bath! He became too complacent and comfortable in Facebook that he didn't think it inappropriate. You're also compelled to click the 'like' button whenever your friends post something otherwise they may think you didn't like it. Hahaha!

One of my many (cringe-worthy)
profile pics. Narcissism much?
In some weird (or convenient) way FB has also become a place for self-promotion. One FB friend posted everything she owned. Every bag, shoes, and gadget she'd ever gotten. Alright! I'm not without a hint of envy when she paraded them before my eyes. But maybe this is the real reason she posted them in the first place? A sort of status symbol for her, if you will.

You know what the saddest part is? I did all of those, too. I posted things I did, places I've been to, and created album after album of pictures I can't even remember. I also wasted tons of time playing FB games. Well, truth be told it did de-stress me during those times (until later when it didn't).

Facebook has become a way of life that we seem lost when we did not log-in on it, at least once a day. We forget that there are other ways of communication. Like phone calls (land line or cell), text messages, e-mails, or even snail mails (people still use this, right?)

I treasure the friendships I've made through Facebook and I'm not saying that those who still use it should stop. I'm just proud to say that I'm 100 days sober and counting.


-Faye

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

'Cause It's the Way to Go!

Hakao my heart 
My family loves Chinese cuisine. So whenever we eat out, we always go for restaurants that serve congee, cold cuts, and the likes. One of our favorite places is Causeway Seafood Restaurant along Congressional Ave., Quezon City.

They serve a wide range of Chinese delicacies there from noodles (Their birthday noodles are the best!), Lo Han vegetables (Which is made up of straw mushrooms, crunchy water chestnut, and brocolli) up to various dim sum and dumplings they push along and offer in a cart as you eat. Some of the yummy choices are:

Can't choose which one to try first! 
Pork siomai- Juicy, tender pork meat with small pieces of chopped shitake mushrooms give this treat an edge over your typical siomai.
Seafood roll- This roll is made up of crab stick and perfectly steamed fish wrapped in lettuce that breaks apart and melts in your mouth.
Beancurd dumplings- You'll find just the right balance between sweet and savory in this pork and shrimp mixture with brown sauce.
Hakao- Our personal choice! Beautiful, chewy balled shrimp delicately enveloped in translucent wrapper.

Order several of these plus a mound of Yang Chao fried rice and voila! You have an instant oriental feast. Of course, like a true Asian tradition, drink plenty of their free tea to cleanse your palate afterwards. That's it. Lai cha lo! :P

Rating: 4.5/5

-Martha

Location:
Causeway Seafood Restaurant - 7 Congressional Ave., Brgy. Bahay Toro, Quezon City

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why I Went Away with Norah

Although summer's already over, the hot, humid weather seems to be a keeper in the Philippines. Good thing though, one of my secrets in beating the heat is right on my iPod! Yup! For me, Norah Jones' cool, soothing voice makes the actual weather a few degrees lower.

This pretty Indian-American's debut album in 2002, Come Away with Me, garnered eight Grammy awards just a year after! My Ate bought a copy of it and tried to influence me to listen as well. When I finally did, I wasn't at all surprised how she bagged those awards. She's really good. The album is a gem: All 14 tracks are well-written and replay-worthy as compared to some albums where there are only few promising songs.

I never thought I'd fall in love with jazz and blues. But Jones' converted me by her heartfelt, easy, soulful music. "Come Away with Me", and "Don't Know Why" are the most popular hits in her album but I also think highly of "Shoot the Moon", "One Flight Down", and "The Long Day is Over". All have a slow, melancholic melody but then again this record isn't meant to party with. It's more suitable as mood music for let's say, a long-drive, an afternoon at a cafe, or perhaps while soaking in the tub.

I bet when Norah invites you to come away with her, you'll be swept away like me, too!

-Martha

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tale of a Wedding Singer

Before June ends (and before I forget!), let me feature my all-time favorite wedding movie.

1st team-up of Adam & Drew
Six years before 50 First Dates, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore proved us that they have wonderful chemistry onscreen. The story is about Robbie, the town's most famous wedding singer and his new friend, Julia the waitress. They are both engaged to marry different people but a turn of events leads them otherwise.

Set in the '80s (which explains the big hairdos and shoulder-padded clothes), it takes us back to the era of Madonna and David Bowie with its funky song selections.

This is such a funny and charming movie that my siblings and I know most of the lines by heart! Another highlight in this rom-com is 'Grow Old with You' which is composed and sung by Sandler himself. Who doesn't know this song, right?

Now, why don't ya grab your hairspray, wear those spandex pants, and be swooned by The Wedding Singer! :)

-Martha

Monday, June 11, 2012

Aal Izz Well

Fahran, Rancho, & Raju
Or 'All is Well' is one of the songs in the movie '3 Idiots'. It's also the mantra repeated throughout the story. This Indian dramedy film released in 2009 was a critical and financial success. Loosely based on the novel 'Five Point Someone - What not to do at ITT!', it tells of three engineering students' journey through college life, family pressure, and self-discovery.

I almost didn't watch this due to its duration (almost three hours!). Fortunately, Martha persuaded me. At first I thought it will be silly but found it to be funny and heart-warming. Although at times the movie is a bit 'preachy', predictable, and you have to read the English subtitle, it's tolerable. What I love the most are the production numbers. In its true Bollywood form, the actors suddenly burst into song and dance performances. It boasts of fantastic soundtrack that range from sentimental 'Give Me Some Sunshine', 'Behti Hawa Sa Tha Won' and 'Jaane Nahin Denge Tujhe' to danceable tunes 'All is Well' and 'Zoobi Doobi'.
Singing in the rain, Bollywood style

I also like the road trip scenery especially the last destination called Pangong Tso. It's breathtakingly beautiful; very serene... The exact opposite of the big, loud, and bustling city I always associate with India.

So if you want to laugh, cry, and be inspired at the same time, give these '3 Idiots' a chance.

Rating: 4/5


-Faye