Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What If

What if you meet your soul mate only to find out that he/she is already taken? Will you agree to just be friends as long as you are together?

In this 2014 rom-com, Wallace and Chantry (portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan) meet at a house party and hit it off in a heartbeat. Despite her having a long-time boyfriend, they end up becoming the best of friends anyway. But how long will he keep his true feelings hidden? And if he does come clean, will the result be worth risking their friendship?

"It's very easy to be cynical about love until you've had that instant connection. If you're lucky, it happens once in a lifetime."

I like that here, I don't think of Radcliffe as Harry Potter anymore. He is able to hold his own and make a convincing 'hopeless romantic cheese ball'. Kazan, with her unconventional beauty, builds a love-hate relationship with the audience (Read: me and my sister) while her character struggles with the situation. Also, I love Adam Driver. Period. Haha. He plays Allan, who is Wallace's crazy yet reasonable friend and Chantry's cousin.

What If is a funny, enjoyable, and relatable film. Ultimately, the witty dialogue and chemistry between the main stars make it promising. Yes, we're all familiar with the elements in the story line. But somehow the artsy, nerdy charm of it all makes it still refreshing.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Tuan Tuan - Chinese with a French Twist

My girl friends and I were exploring the new building in SM Megamall the other day and were enticed to try a number of new restaurants. But Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie's cozy, sophisticated ambiance lured us instantly inside.

The vintage trinkets on the walls, crystal chandeliers hanging everywhere, and a faux indoor garden at the back made the room a feast for the eyes. It's not your typical Chinese resto with woods and reds.

We ordered their Steamed Halibut with Chili and Garlic (₱468). The fish was tender and flavorful with just a hint of spice. We only wish they'd removed the bones as there were quite a few.

We also had their Special Noodle Soup Combo of Laksa*, Sliced Cuttlefish, Fish Ball, Hofun + Deep Fried Fish Fillet + Choice of Drink (₱518). Thick, slurpy noodles, milky, curry soup, and yummy seafood toppings. It was the best laksa I've had so far!

The deep fried fish fillet (cream dory I believe) was really good also. It went well with the tangy mayo dip. As for the free drink, the options were HK style coffee or HK lemon tea. The lemon tea was quite strong for my taste but I admire that they served it in a metal mug so as to keep it cold. 

Lastly, we had their House Special Trio on Rice (₱398) which had 3 sections: The sweet orange part was pork chop (I highly suspect some honey in there), the green middle was wild mushroom which tasted like pesto, and the white one was baked seafood- my favorite among the three.

The dishes are a bit pricey but considering their serving size, which filled 4 of us, it's justified. The servers were attentive but as diners began to pile in, they got busy that it took awhile to get our bill. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed our stay there. There were things pleasantly introduced to our palates. Props for the Chinese fused with French cuisine concept.

Rating: 4/5


Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie - 3F, Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City

*laksa. noun. a popular spicy noodle soup in the Peranakan cuisine.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hanamaruken's Hadouken

Ramen is one of my comfort foods. A good bowl of noodles and savory soup can warm up anyone's day. So when my sister asked me to try Hanamaruken Ramen, I was totally game. 

I love the look and feel of the place from their wooden seating and blue Japanese accents up to the upbeat ethnic music playing in the background. It's like being transported to Osaka where it was founded in 1983.

We had an order of their Gyoza (₱150) which was more than satisfactory. The chewy, juicy dumplings had a hint of ginger, hence, giving it a fresh aftertaste.

Ate Faye and her evident egg addiction! :)
Next served was their Spare Ribs Ramen (₱390). I had deja vu upon taking my first sip... It reminded me of Narcissus Stewed Pork since the slow-cooked meat tasted similar to the in-can favorite. The tonkotsu broth was very flavorful. My Ate added aji tamago (₱50) since she's crazy about eggs (Me not so much especially when it's soft-boiled).

The Drunk Man Rice Bowl (₱240) was clearly the hadouken (a Street Fighter reference. Y'all 80-90's kids know what I'm talking about ;)) in our lunch. It was the strongest dish by far with its sweet and spicy pork on a bed of rice and fried egg, likely sobering up a drunk man. You need not be drunk to appreciate it though. It's sooo good! Will definitely come back for more and perhaps try their signature Happiness Ramen next time.

Rating: 4/5


Hanamaruken Ramen - 2F TriNoma Mall, North Triangle, Quezon City

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Message of the Messenger

I recently finished 'I Am the Messenger' by Markus Zusak and since Martha blogged about The Book Thief, it is only fitting I write about this one.

Ed & his Aces
Ed Kennedy is a nineteen-year-old taxi driver. He has no goals or accomplishments to speak of. He lives in a run down apartment with his elderly dog, plays card games few nights a week with his pals, and loves a girl desperately who doesn't want to love him back. He concludes his life is pretty meaningless and he's only going through the motion of living.

One day, he foils a bank robbery and gets his fifteen minutes of fame. As he settles back into his old routine, he receives an old Ace of Diamond playing card in the mail. Three pairs of address and time are written on it. At first hesitant and confused, he checks them out one by one. He discovers that he has to help someone in each of these houses. A woman being abused by her husband almost every night, a lonely old woman, and a girl who has no self-confidence. Just as he thought he's done, another playing card with another set of tasks, is given to him.

Although the genre and style are different, I experienced the same feeling with this book as with The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I felt inspired and lectured on without appearing so. Zusak successfully blurred the lines between reality and sublime, metaphorical events. He drives his message directly through the reader's hearts. I found myself urging Ed to finish his tasks every time a card arrives at his doorstep.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Life at 50/50

On most days off, I like to cuddle with our dogs and stream movies online. I often go for the light, feel-good genre. That's how I came across the 2011 film, 50/50. It's actually a comedy-drama loosely based on a true story.

27-year-old Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lives life on the safe side. He doesn't smoke, drink, do drugs and, because car accidents are one of the leading causes of death, drive. Yet lo and behold, after going to the doctor because of persistent back pain, he learned that he has cancer and a 50/50 chance of survival.

His struggle begins by breaking the news to his goofy best friend Kyle (Seth Rogens), artist girlfriend, and overprotective parents. He also doubtfully sees Katherine played by Anna Kendrick (Love her!), an inexperienced PhD candidate, for therapy to help voice out his issues and feelings about his condition. 
"You can't change your situation. The only thing that you can change is how you choose to deal with it."
The movie is very realistic, showing the inimitable glum of battling the big C but also finding humor in it. It has brought me equal parts of tears and laughter - a weird but amazing combination. I'm yearning for more films like this. Funny, heart-pinching, and inspiring.


Monday, August 11, 2014

My Night with The Rover

The night Martha and I saw 'The Rover', there were only six people inside the movie theater. A couple left one-third through the film. Not a very comforting thought, is it? I was beginning to worry that we wasted our time and money for this indie-drama film, not to mention the semi-paranoia that gripped us (there were only four of us left in this freaking 400 seating-capacity room!). We forcibly calmed ourselves and decided to make the most of our night by refocusing our attention to the big screen. And I assure you, focus is the operative word here.

Yay or Nay?
A 2014 Australian film written and directed by David Michod, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. The setting was in the Australian outback, 10 years after a global economic collapse. Rey (Pattinson) was wounded and left for dead by his group after a robbery gone wrong. Rey's brother (Scoot McNairy) wanted to come back for him but was dissuaded by the rest of their group. An altercation followed causing their vehicle to crash. The robbers then switched vehicle by carnapping a parked car. Meanwhile, Eric (Pearce), a brooding and mysterious stranger witnessed his car being taken. He chased after the thieves but was thwarted and left unconscious. When he came to, he started after the group and found the injured Rey. After learning he was with the people who took his car, Eric had Rey treated by a doctor. The unlikely duo, started looking for the rest of Rey's mates.

The story itself is ordinary. Or I should say, typical in an indie film. A simple plot with a couple of characters to follow, realistic setting, and an ending that is debatable. I'm not saying I didn't like it. I did, sort of. I already knew that Guy Pearce will be brilliant but Pattinson was a pleasant surprise. Whoever advised him to do this movie should be congratulated. There was no trace of his emetic performance in 'Twilight'. Here, his take on the weak and needy Rey was spot on. Just enough to keep the audience interested and worried for him at the same time. I also like that I could feel the actors' desperation through the wild, dry, and gritty outback setting. What I was frustrated about were the accents. They were damn heavy!  Pearce's was Australian while Pattinson's was Southern American. I had to strain my ears to hear/understand what they were saying. I wish they'd put in subtitles.

All in all, I don't think we wasted our time with this one. Not for everyone, though. I'd give it a 3/5 rating.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Martha's Day

To my intellectual sparring partner, soul mate, food trip buddy, and beautiful sister, Happy Birthday! :) 
You deserve the best life has to offer. I love you!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Best Things In Life

There's a saying that goes "The best things in life are free." 

Some days, I'm 50/50 about it. 

I mean of course happiness can't be bought but getting your dream house or a vacation in Europe with your entire family can actually bring genuine joy, too. Money doesn't guarantee a happy life but, let's face it, it does help. Perhaps I'm saying this because lately I'm broke (sort of) despite my attempts to save up and it sucks.

On the other hand, as my 24th year of existence approaches, I've come to learn some things. Not science or math or those you get in school. I'm talking about the ones only life itself can teach you. And I've learned that if you stop to notice the things around you, no matter how small, you'd appreciate the world more.

Examples? Libraries. Or reader-friendly bookstores that let you take the plastic seals off their books and read them for free. Also, my friend Wendy and I have this guilty pleasure of hanging out in 7-Eleven just so we can listen to them play old school songs. Ah. Nothing beats an impromptu Backstreet Boys nostalgia. Then there's the free newspaper if you ride the LRT/MRT in the morning. Though you have to go extra gladiator to grab one among the mob of angry commuters, who for some reason still launch at the stand even when they're almost late. (Like me. Haha.) Which brings me to another point: Everybody loves freebies. 

There are things that people enjoy because it don't cost us a centavo like free food tastes in groceries or shampoo samples they hand out in malls but there are things that really are the best because they simply are. Such as nature- The breath-taking scenery of mountains, forests, and oceans. Sometimes I even find myself amazed just by watching cottony wisps of clouds rolling by. Nowadays, I find my Facebook newsfeed filled with rants about the stormy weather. But how many of us are thankful for sunny-windy days when they occur?

What else are the best free things in life? Our friends and families. We didn't buy them but they're our most valued treasures. The same goes to love and God. I'm sure these are what the person thought of when he came up with the saying. At the end of the day, they are what make us happy. At the end of our lives, these are what truly matter.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hip Hip Hooray!

Bad hair day?
Even though fayeandmartha didn't reach our target of 150 blogs by our 3rd anniversary I am still proud of our accomplishments, thus far. I'm the first to tell people that I'm not a natural writer. It was because of Martha that I even get to squeeze a few decent (or as my mom would say 'Pwede na') entries.

I sometimes have trouble selecting interesting topics to blog about. I am also guilty of 'submitting' my entries pretty late. But my sister patiently and endlessly encourage (aka: nag) me until I finally relent. Haha! Kidding aside, I'm lucky to be part of this brainchild of hers. 

I give full credit to you, dear sister. Thank you for every happiness this blog has brought me. Happy anniversary! Love, love.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

If I Stay

For 17-year-old Mia Hall, life is good. She is a gifted cellist and might just get in her dream school, Juilliard. Adam, her boyfriend, loves her. Most of all, she has a wonderful family - the coolest parents and an adorable little brother.

But one snowy day, life suddenly becomes a nightmare. She gets in a car accident with her family which puts her in a coma. And as her body lays in the hospital bed, she learns that she has to make the ultimate choice: whether to stay or go.

Once again, I was mesmerized by Gayle Forman's writing in her first bestsellers, If I Stay and its sequel, Where She Went. If in Just One Day I was amazed by how she describes places, here, I was awestruck by how she describes life. The many contradicting things about it. How short it is yet lasting. How it changes but somehow is still the same.

I also admire the music in the books and am impressed with Gayle's emotive, rock-lyric writing. I could almost hear the classical pieces even though I don't know them. Yes, a little bit of rock, a little bit of classic. And then, something in me felt warm at the blending of the two. Genius.

As Mia flashbacks on her life's picturesque moments, you are transported back to your own. It reminds us of the important things and how to cherish them. The aftermath of her struggle is bittersweet and tender. Truly, it is a touching story of love, loss, and more.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

One lazy afternoon, I finally got to watch a film I've been meaning to see. Mind you, it's not the new Transformers movie (I haven't seen the old ones either!) which just about dominated all cinemas. In fact, it's the 1993 indie What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

It takes place in Endora, a small town where the Grapes live. The story follows Gilbert (played by the one and only Johnny Depp), the oldest brother of four siblings, who also stands as the man in the family ever since their father died.

His main concerns: their morbidly obese mother who hasn't gone out of the house for years, the house itself which is slowly falling apart, and most of all, Arnie, their mentally-challenged brother who is about to turn 18. With his hands full, can Gilbert ever dream outside of such a remote place?

The subtle acting and touching realism of the screenplay makes it remarkable. Note-worthy performances go to a very young and talented Leonardo DiCaprio (Arnie) and Darlene Cates (Mama). I was taken with just about everything in this movie. I felt as if I was a part of their neighborhood. I felt like I knew them. I guess that's when you know you've seen something really special.

I love that it depicts certain social issues such as stigma against mental illness and 'socially unacceptable' physical appearance but I love it even more because it made me reflect on life, the value of family, and the value of ourselves.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Korean Buffet @ Don Day

As a prequel to Ate Faye's birthday, we decided to try one of the many food stops at Maginhawa Street, Q.C. We originally planned to go to Van Gogh is Bipolar but it's closed during Tuesdays so we went to our 2nd choice, Don Day Fresh Restaurant.

First impression: The place was smokin' (literally!) from the grills. We humbly suggest they do any of the following:
a. Place more/better exhaust units, b. Use smokeless grills, or c. Make it open-spaced as I've seen in many Koreanovelas. Personally, I'd choose option C. I'd love to dine in the streets with perhaps just a tent above me, eat authentic Korean barbecue to my heart's content, and drink *soju.

For the meat lovers. :)
Their meat-all-you-can and buffet are priced at ₱299 (pork only) and ₱399 (pork and beef). Drinks are not inclusive so there's additional ₱50 for bottomless iced tea. Frankly, once cooked, you can hardly tell the difference between the beef and pork so I guess the pork package is the smarter way to go.

The buffet items were fewer compared to other eat-all-you-can chains such as Yakimix, Dad's, etc which I attribute to them sticking to the Korean theme. The number of appetizers, condiments, and desserts tasted average. What we did love is the *samgyeopsal itself. I liked pairing the meat with kimchi and veggies. Really good.

Be prepared to go home smelling like grill-smoke so you might want to think twice about wearing anything too dressy. What mattered though is at the end of the day, we were full, and we had fun with many photo-op moments courtesy of their cheerful servers. The concept of the restaurant is nice and there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Rating: 3.25/5


*samgyeopsal. noun. Korean dish consisting of thick slices of non-marinated pork traditionally grilled by diners themselves.
*soju. noun. Korean vodka.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Slap-Your-Own Cakes

Ate Faye treated me to brunch recently at Slappy Cakes. The place was bright with their orange and wood scheme. We were seated at a booth with a covered skillet and ordered pretty quickly since we had only one hour to spare. Waiting time gave us a chance to re-think our orders though. The maple and mango syrups plus the array of cooking wares displayed on our table invited us enough.

We decided it was taboo to come to Slappy Cakes and not try what they're famous for: Their make-it-your-own pancakes. So we asked the friendly crew to wrap up Ate's original choice, Mom's Chicken Stew (₱290) which she said later on tasted okay, for takeout instead. Then we readily agreed on having Buttermilk Pancakes with Bacon (₱305). Oooh.

You can choose from their various batters (buttermilk, whole grain, peanut butter, vegan, chocolate) and fixins/toppings (i.e., chocolate chips, fruits, mushrooms, sausages, whipped cream) to personalize your cakes. In retrospect, we should have been more creative and made all kinds of shapes with the easy-squeeze bottled batter. Anyway, we had a blast making and of course, eating them! My only comment is that the buttermilk batter was a bit salty for my taste.

(L-R) Pork Belly Benny and Cranberry Cooler
We also shared a plate of Pork Belly Benedict (₱350) which is two poached eggs over pork belly and a couple of small disk pancakes topped with lovely Hollandaise sauce served with baked potato chunks. We love this version of eggs benny. Though I wish their pork belly had less strip of fat.

Ate had the Cranberry Cooler (₱190). The slight bitterness from the grapefruit and tang from the cranberry cuts through the savory dishes. Very refreshing.

The make-it-your-own slappy cake experience was definitely the highlight of our day. We'd like to go back and play with our food more.

Rating: 4/5


Slappy Cakes - 2F The Block, SM North EDSA, Quezon City

Sunday, May 25, 2014


The culprits with my birthday cake and bottles of vino
I've been involved in throwing surprise parties a few times but I've never been at the receiving end of it. That's why when Martha and a few friends from work threw me one for my birthday this year, I was completely flabbergasted.

I was confused and befuddled at first then humbly touched and very happy. I knew what it entails to prepare a party, let alone a surprise one. My heart swelled when I learned of how they pulled it off, without me having the least bit of clue.

The theme could only be described as Disney Princess Slumber Party. Every girl should be made into a princess at least once in her life, right? They even made me wear a tiara! :) I'd say that's one night I'll forever look back with fondness. Thanks, girls! <3


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spice It Up at Chili's

Lately, I've been hooked like a seven-year-old to this online food-serving game called Papa's Taco Mia. So I was living the dream when we decided to go to Chili's for a night out with the girls. 

Chillin' with Erika, Lei, and Ate Faye.
It's easy to spot with its plump red chili sign outside their doors. The place is young and bright with all the yellows and reds. We had a long time choosing from their menu which offered a variety of salads, steaks, desserts, and yup, alcohol. Eventually, we passed up on the enticing margaritas and settled for the ff:

As shown clockwise in the picture, we had the Bottomless Tostada Chips (₱340) which were very addictive paired with their house-made salsa. We only had one refill since we had a lot (and I mean, A LOT. Their servings are huge!) going on our plates.

Ate Faye had the Country-Style Pork Belly ((₱425). It was tender and served with vinegar-and-garlic dipping sauce, giving that homey vibe. Lei ordered the Chicken Enchilada Pasta (₱430) which was an interesting Southwestern take on penne pasta with grilled chicken, chipotle* cheese, pico de gallo*, and crispy tortilla chips. Erika's Grilled Pork Chops ((₱450) were similar to Ate's except for the sauce and meat part.  

Muy delicioso!
I guess it's safe to say that I had the winning dish that night. Their Chicken Club Tacos (₱385) covered my taco-gaming fantasies. Three taco wraps with juicy chicken breast, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, bacon bits, rice, and black bean chili. Seriously. What more can you ask for?

Chili's may be on the pricey side but it's totally worth it. I love the Mexican flavors and the pleasant servers. By the end of our meal, we were stuffed. Burping. Immobile. We had a lot of take home leftovers. Here's a well-learned tip: SHARE. The portions, as I said, are huge so order a few things, split it, and enjoy!

Rating: 4/5


Chili's Bar and Grill - 199 Sct. Fernandez, cor Tomas Morato Ave., Laging Handa, Quezon City

*chipotle. noun. smoke-dried jalapeno.
*pico de gallo (Spanish). noun. aka "salsa fresca". fresh, uncooked salad made from chopped tomato, white onion, and chili.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Double Happiness

Last year, I've been shot by cupid's arrow repeatedly of as I've fallen in love with a lot of really good books. This year, cupid's aim has been a little off lately with my so-so reading list. But then finally, he releases the bow. Flick...Whoosh... Pang. I've been hit again.

This time it's by the two-part series called Just One Day and Just One Year by Gayle Forman. 

Allyson Healey has always played it safe with her sheltered lifestyle and color-coded schedule. Until during a trip to Europe, she has taken the biggest leap of faith yet by agreeing to go to Paris with a boy, the handsome wanderer Willem, who she just met. They share the loveliest day of their lives but their story continues to one year of self-discovery, all the while in search for that one great love.

Their tale has a magical effect and yet it's believable. Forman has the sublime talent of describing places, people, and, best of all, emotions. I'm immersed by the scenery she paints, particularly during moments of ode to Shakespeare. It's truly amazing how his works transcend time. These 2013 novels show the joy and wonder that travel bring, the beauty of languages, and the similarities of the world despite diversity.

"Sometimes fate or life or whatever you want to call it, leaves a door a little open and you walk through it. But sometimes it locks and you have to find the key, or pick the lock, or knock the damn thing down. And sometimes, it doesn't even show you the door, and you have to build it yourself."

If you love books about love like me, this pair's a sure bull's eye.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's About Time

Released only last year, About Time is the story of Tim who, upon turning 21, learned a very exciting family secret. All the men in his father's family can travel through time! Well, travel only to the times and places they've been to themselves.

Time travel genre queen, McAdams &
my latest crush, Gleeson
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) decided to change his past mistakes to better his love life. He met Mary (Rachel McAdams) and they liked each other instantly. However, he did something to help a friend which negated his meeting Mary. So, he planned to meet her for the 'first time' by using his knowledge about her. He had to keep re-meeting her until he succeeded. As his love life stabilized, his family life unraveled and he was forced to make difficult choices. He found out that there were consequences to his actions like everybody else.

'We're all travelling through time, together, everyday of our lives... All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable life.' -Tim Lake

Although the movie is a little long for my taste (2 hours), there are many charming little scenes where one could pick up lessons or simply be touched by the events in Tim's life. I especially like the moments with his father. To be honest, I didn't like Gleeson as Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter movies and except for his Irish accent, he is forgettable in Never Let Me Go but I love him here. He played the part as a sweet, awkward, kinda nerdy guy, and was very cute doing it! Last I heard he's going to be in the latest Star Wars film. Can't wait for that! :)


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Summer Travel Playlist

Summer is one of my favorite times of the year. It gives an exciting, refreshing vibe. When I think of summer, I think of the beach and travel. So I made a playlist perfect for that warm, lazy, wind-blowing-on-your-face, long drives. It's a mix of head-bobbing, foot-tapping jams and serene, soothing ballads. Here it is:

1. Island in the Sun by Weezer
Photo from Flickr
2. Honeymoon Avenue by Ariana Grande
3. With or Without You by U2
4. Every Teardrop is a Waterfall by Coldplay
5. Beautiful Soul by Jesse McCartney
6. One Day by Matisyahu
7. Me by Paula Cole
8. Northern Sky by Nick Drake
9. Kaleidoscope World by Francis Magalona
10. Summer Paradise by Simple Plan
11. Someday by Sugar Ray
12. I'm Yours by Jason Mraz
13. Strawberry Swing by Coldplay
14. Don't Worry Baby by The Beach Boys
15. Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

I had a hard time narrowing down my choices and might have missed out on some great songs. But I hope you like it anyway. Or you can make your own, too! I'm psyched to hear what made your list. Happy summer! <3


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rowling's New Calling

J.K. Rowling has been an inspiration to many readers worldwide. She gave us a vital piece of our childhood--Harry Potter, and we'll be eternally grateful. I admire her so much and personally believe she's one of the greatest writers of all time.

Having said these, it makes perfect sense that she continue writing post-Harry. In The Casual Vacancy, she ventured into the total opposite of HP's magical theme. However, it was so raw and badly realistic that most critics and avid fans were left disappointed. Ate Faye said she wanted to throw her tablet (and maybe a hissy fit) at J.K. after finishing its eBook.

The synopsis didn't appeal to me so I never read it. Now, when she released her 1st ever mystery novel, I just knew it was going to be good. All those impeccably crafted details and twisted plots in the Potter series were premonition enough that mystery is her next fated genre.

In 2013, she penned The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Once again, her lead is a male in the form of Cormoran Strike, a bright albeit slightly troubled detective. His case to solve: To prove that Lula Landry, a supermodel who fell from her rooftop to her death, did not commit suicide and was in fact, murdered. Of course, I was tricked by Rowling's fine story-telling that I suspected just about everyone in the book and couldn't make up my mind on "Who dunnit?" up until the very end.

I don't care that I was practically a deer in the headlights since that heart-stopping moment of revelation has always been the best part. Apparently, it has been a success and reports mentioned a 2nd book in the series called The Silkworm coming up this June. I can't wait to see what happens next to Strike and admittedly, to be made a complete fool again by my favorite author. Always a pleasure.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pure Bliss

I have a question to ask and a confession to make. The question is "Do you believe in love at first sight?" and my confession is "Yes, I do." Normally, I'm not the type of person who would utter such declarations but someone made me change my belief.
Hi, Baby! :)

Although I knew of our impending meeting, I wasn't prepared when I finally saw him in person. I didn't think I could love someone upon laying eyes on them but last February, I did.

At first, I couldn't explain my feelings when I held hands with him. I wasn't afraid or anything so I just went for it. I took him in my arms and held him there for a long time. I tried to look into his eyes but they're closed. So I looked at his nose, lips, ears, and everywhere I could get my eyes on instead. It didn't take as much time as you'd think because he's only about a foot and half long.

I know I got you confused. I'm talking about my brand new nephew, of course! I was so amazed how a tiny being could bring out so much emotion from a person such as myself. I can't begin to imagine how his parents must feel. If I have to describe my 1st meeting with this little man, well, I just have to call it pure bliss.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014


After dutifully tagging along while Ate Faye ran some errands one morning, I was rewarded with a scrumptious lunch at Tempura Japanese Grill. In retrospect, it's a bit ironic that we didn't order any tempura but it's fine since we snagged some great choices instead.

Uncle Sam's Maki (₱210) started our dining experience with a bang. Shrimp, mango, cucumber, and cream cheese bordered with rice and topped in bacon bits and mayo. It's like all good things rolled in one maki. So good! Arigatou gozaimasu, Uncle Sam (whoever you are) for creating this masterpiece.

Their Tori Teriyaki (₱215) was nice. Not the best we've ever tasted but it was nice. The chicken was moist and tender with just the right sweetness and smokey flavor from the grill.

Need to take a pic with my
new-found love,
Uncle Sam's Maki.
I was really craving for seafood, squid in particular, so I chose their Kaisen Sizzler (₱365) and was not disappointed. The platter consisted of generous chunks of tuna and salmon, clams, shrimp, and of course, squid with vegetables sauteed in a rich, savory sauce. Our orders didn't have rice yet so Ate had the Gomoku Chahan (₱75) which was fried rice and I had the Gohan (₱45) which was plain rice sprinkled with black sesame seeds on top.

Truth was, we couldn't make up our minds where to eat that day. Ate wanted rice and I wanted my squid so we went to the nearest restaurant that met both descriptions. The ambiance was unassuming and there was just one table occupied aside from us. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so much. We walked in Tempura without any plans on doing another Japanese food review but walked out with every intention of doing one. We were pretty impressed.

Rating: 4.25/5


Tempura Japanese Grill - GF Robinsons Place Manila, Adriatico St., Ermita, Manila

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Vow

Question: If you wake up one day from a coma, lost part of your memory, and Channing Tatum tells you he's your husband, will you believe him?

Answer: Duh! In a heartbeat. Haha!

This is one way to look at Paige's (Rachel McAdams) dilemma. Inspired by true events, The Vow is about a newly married couple whose world is transformed after a car accident left the wife unable to remember her husband, Leo.

This 2012 film shows how their love story began and, eventually, hit rock bottom. Is true love enough to survive the ultimate test to their marriage? Leo's philosophy on moments of impact and how they change us forever puts life in a new perspective.

I love the story so much that I'm appalled to find some friends who didn't like this movie. I don't think it has to be compared to other memory loss-related films (i.e., The Notebook. Hey, McAdams is like the amnesia it-girl!) since it's a different and inspiring story on its own. 

I also have no complaints regarding their acting. I swear my on-screen love for Channing (We're on first name basis, see.) doesn't render my opinion biased. I think the cast delivered nicely. I'm not saying it's academy award performance but they're able to embody their characters and relate to the audience well.

The Vow goes to my feel-good movie pile. I'm keeping the CD nearby for an impromptu re-run. As for those who didn't enjoy as much watching it the first time, perhaps after reading this you'll give it a second chance?


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Olive Juice

I've been wracking my brain for a movie entry for Valentine's. I wanted to feature a love story with a twist. Then I remembered seeing a film many years back called The Other Sister. Released in 1999 and directed by Garry Marshall, it starred Juliette Lewis, Diane Keaton, Tom Skerritt, and Giovanni Ribisi.

Carla Tate (Lewis) is a slightly mentally challenged young adult. She comes home from a special school after completing her curriculum. At her welcome dinner, she announces she would like to start going to a regular school to become a veterinary assistant. Her over-protective mother (Keaton) disapproves and insists on molding her into a tennis-playing, country-clubbing, well-off young lady. After running away, the rest of her family intervenes and her mother finally relents. At her new school, she meets another mentally challenged student named Daniel McMann (Ribisi). They form a friendship which later turns into romance. What happens next is a mixture of funny, touching, and endearing love story.

I know this isn't your traditional romantic-comedy movie. But believe me the same elements are present: hilarious scenes, incredulous plots, and most importantly, shameless sentimentality. Not everything we watch should be intellectual and highfalutin. Sometimes it just has to be silly, tender, and cute. :)


Friday, February 7, 2014

There's Something About Maria

Ever wonder why February's the shortest month of the year? It's because my zero love life says so. ^____^
Kidding aside, it actually has something to do with being the 12th month in the original Roman calendar. Not to geek you out or...

Anyway, for single peeps out there like me, why not celebrate the month of love through food? I found the perfect place to set the mood. Gayuma ni Maria has old rose walls embellished with quirky quotes, flowers, and fairy lights. There's even a 'naughty nook' where you can buy or have a laugh over aphrodisiac novelty items. For their menu, they have fun, creative names. My friends and I ordered their best-sellers.

We had Kiss Sabay Hug (₱165) as an appetizer which is chicken pork adobo and crisp lettuce to wrap it with. Nice one, I think. The lettuce did the trick, balancing the sweet-salty-sourness of the meat. Mia's Rock Me Baby! (₱285) was good. This hickory bbq pork ribs dish is typically served with macaroni salad but she asked to switch it for rice instead. Grace's beef caldereta called Secret Lovers was very flavorful.

Secret Lovers (P265)
I wasn't delighted with my choice: Afternoon Delight (₱195), an oil-based pasta with fresh tomato and chili pepper flakes. It tasted outright bland. On the other hand, Arianne and Erika said their Please Be Careful with My Heart (₱240), twice-baked garlic chicken, were too salty. I didn't really notice since my pasta left me yearning for any sort of taste.

So there were hits and misses with the food. And it's a bit pricey since their meals do not include rice yet. Concept-wise, Gayuma is spot on. I like that it's very Pinoy. I really wish they'd improve their menu and then it'd be perfect. That said, I enjoyed the experience. We had a lot of laughs and photo-op moments. It doesn't matter if you don't have that special someone. Bring your friends and family as your date and share the love.

Rating: 3.25/5


Gayuma Ni Maria - 123 V. Luna Extension (near Maginhawa St.) Sikutan Village, Quezon City

Monday, February 3, 2014

Game of Thrones

Martha and I have an understanding to feature only the lesser known and the slightly obscure ideas. However, as we are mere mortals, we break this promise once in a while. I state this because who hasn't heard of the Game of Thrones? Granted I only became a fan two years ago. I was urged by my friends to watch the series but decided to read the books first.

Published in 1996 and written by George R. R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire became a series of books: 1) A Game of Thrones, 2) A Clash of Kings, 3) A Storm of Swords, 4) A Feast for Crows, 5) A Dance with Dragons, 6) The Winds of Winter, and 7) A Dream of Spring. The last two books have yet to be published (Hurry up, George!).

Set in the fictional world of Westeros and Essos, it has everything you wanted in an epic fantasy novel: giants, dwarfs, dragons, zombies (of the frozen kind), magical beings, etc. Not to mention beheadings and betrayals, love and lust, and of course, nobility and loyalty. One thing that sets it apart from books of this genre is though magic is present, it doesn't dominate the story line. Realism weighed heavily on important events, even in the most gruesome battle scenes. Martin also doesn't care if a character is an obvious favorite, he'll chop his head off anyway. Mine, by the way, is Jon Snow. I don't care if he 'knows nothing', ever since he rescued those poor direwolf pups, I knew he's my favorite (Please don't kill him, George.).

As I was saying, I can't wait for books 6 and 7 to be published which I read won't come out before 2015. Boo! So, I leave you with this chilling and foretelling quote to ponder instead:

'When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.'


Friday, January 31, 2014

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

Winter is probably over in some countries but that didn't stop Frozen from taking the world by storm.

This Disney animated film is about two princesses of Arendelle. Elsa is born with the power to create ice and snow. One instance while playing, she accidentally injures her younger sister Anna. This led her parents to take measures to conceal her strength. Until years later when Elsa could not hold it in anymore and puts the kingdom in eternal winter...

There are several factors that make Frozen one of the highest-grossing films. First off, the animation is truly amazing. They showcase snow in lots of stunning ways possible. Second, the story breaks away from conventional fairy tale films. It's not about the damsel-in-distress in need of a prince charming. It sets a new and valuable lesson: You can be your own hero. Last and probably the biggest factor of all is the music. It heightens the charming and magical appeal of the film.

I commend Disney for their ability to produce a heart-warming story transition in just a matter of seconds. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" did just that. "For the First Time in Forever" is sang so well by the talented Kristen Bell it captures Anna's sentiments perfectly. "Love is an Open Door" is a cute and unique duet (You'll see why in the latter part of the movie. Don't want to spoil ya.). Even the short lullaby "Reindeers Are Better Than People" is sang nicely and warmly by Jonathan Groff. Of course, who could forget Idina Menzel's "Let It Go"? Who else out there is guilty of memorizing the lyrics with matching actions? Haha. It's my favorite musical scene in the film followed by the trolls' adorable performance in "Fixer Upper".

I can't think of anyone not enjoying this movie! I was transformed into a little girl as I watched the entire thing, awestruck and giddy. I just love it. Thank you, Disney!

Okay, bye. :)


Thursday, January 16, 2014

The House You Want to Live In

Some things are just aptly named. Kudos to the owners of House of Lasagna... Just hearing it makes me crave the layers of goodness it promise. I want to sneak in their kitchen and hide there forever. Haha!

Lately, I've been frequenting the place (legally, mind you) with my best friend Mia. The ambience is simple with neutral palettes and warm lighting. The lovely smell of garlic and herbs as you enter is what lures you in. Just as expected, they specialize in lasagnas. So far, they're offering 10 different kinds. We've tried five and all are really good. Each one is served in sharing portions and served with a complimentary basket of unlimited garlic bread to wipe your plate clean. Yey!

Carbonara Lasagna and Lasagne Frederico
If you want to go classic, try their Beef or Chicken (₱200 each). They do not disappoint. The Lasagne Frederico, their priciest one for ₱400, is larger than the others. Mia and I agree, it somehow reminds us of pizza.

Our top marks go to their Seafood Lasagna and Carbonara Lasagna (₱250 each). Their Seafood has chewy bits of shrimp, clam, and fish in red sauce while their Carbonara is filled with bacon bits, mushrooms, and white sauce. I like that no matter which one you order, their pasta's cooked to perfection and stacked with generous helpings of flavorful sauces.

Their menu also has other pasta and non-pasta dishes like soups and steaks. You can also try their desserts such as cheesecakes and caramel flan. Personally, their lasagnas are enough to keep me coming back... Best ones I've ever tasted.

Rating: 4/5


House of Lasagna - Eton Centris Walk, Quezon Ave., EDSA, Quezon City

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How To Be Bad

I started the new year not by having a resolution but by watching the critically acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad. When I say watch, I mean marathon-wise. I finished the entire five seasons in about ten days (would've been faster if I didn't have to go to work). It's that addicting (no pun intended).

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is an over-qualified high school Chemistry teacher. On his 50th birthday, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Worried about leaving nothing to his pregnant wife and his teenage son with cerebral palsy, he turned to manufacturing (cooking) methamphetamine. Together with his former student Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, they traversed the many twists and turns of the underground drug world.

Created by Vince Gilligan, the series ran from 2008-2013 and amassed recognition from the Emmy's to Screen Actors Guild's to the Golden Globes'. To say that the actors who played them were brilliant would be an understatement. For me, it started as a sort of dark comedy but turned full on drama. The writing plays with your emotions (and morality) from beginning to end. The show keeps the audience wondering: 1. Who is the hero, who is the villain?; 2. Crime doesn't pay... or does it?; and 3. Does the end justify the means?

I could answer all of those (I could even tell you the number of bald guys in this series) but I assure you, it's better to find out yourselves. Peace, yo!