Saturday, September 20, 2014


On Franco's birthday weekend, we went to Crystal Beach Resort in Zambales. It was a three-hour drive from Manila, and I absolutely loved passing through SCTEx! Anyway, on the way there, I was still getting phone calls from work, which forced me to open my laptop at our first stopover in Pampanga.

I was so irritated at the idea of having to work while I was supposedly on vacation that I snapped at JR. Here's what happened: when I took my laptop out of the bag, he opened his mouth and I knew he was going to jokingly reprimand me for working while we were supposed to have fun. Because I was in such a foul mood, I cut him off and I asked him in a very serious tone, "Do you think I want to be working while we're here?"

There was a bit of awkwardness after. But when I came to my senses, I immediately apologized to him. He just nodded, and then he walked away for a bit. He was gone for a few minutes - he went to the convenience store with Franco and Reese, and he went to the car for a bit. I just stayed in McDonald's, pounding on the keys of my laptop until it was time to leave.

In the car, we were already okay, and I was relieved that he accepted my apology. At our second stopover, he even asked me to go with him to the convenience store to buy drinks for the weekend. I apologized again and he told me not to worry about what happened anymore, which is awesome because I didn't really want to let work get in the way of an awesome weekend.
At the resort, when I was unpacking my stuff, I saw a Stitch (from Lilo & Stich) stuffed toy. I don't really own stuffed toys, and even if I did, I wouldn't take it with me to a beach trip. I asked JR if he knows where it came from, and he told me that he got it for me to remind me that no matter what happens, we'll always be family. (The movie Lilo & Stitch is where the line "Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind" came from.)

I wanted to cry (I managed not to). I felt awful for having snapped at him, but I also felt overwhelmed with gratitude. I couldn't wrap my head around how blessed I am to have friends who have become family. We've been saying it for a while now, that we were a family, but I guess finding Stitch in my bag totally sealed the deal. I said this before, and I'll say it again, family is not necessarily the people who are your blood, but rather those who can become your blood.

Thank you, Bata. And Franco. And Alfred. You guys are my family now and I love you all fiercely.


Friday, September 19, 2014

FTF / ATC: Why have I never been here?

As I have been a Northerner for most of my life, I actually don't go to the South much to hang out (except, of course, to visit my best friend in the whole wide universe, Joandrea). It's only recently, with my involvement in the URCC and with my new obsession (boxing), that I've been shuttling back and forth to Sucat, Paranaque.

On more than one occasion, I've actually been close enough to Alabang Town Center - one of them being the Condura Skyway Marathon, which kicks off in Filinvest City. So when Franco wanted to celebrate his gold medal finish at the 2014 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu National Championships at Yushoken, I begged him to give me the grand tour of ATC.
(photo from the internet)
For the most part, it's just like any other mall. It has stores, coffee shops, an activity center, parking, etc. But the vibe is actually quite different - it's more relaxed, for the lack of a better term. The North and South of Metro Manila are like New York and California, respectively. So yeah, I definitely felt like a New Yorker in Cali when I walked in.

I liked it from the moment I walked in. I imagined myself sitting in one of the coffee shops there, reading a book or writing on my journal as I waited for my cup of joe to grow cool enough for drinking. Let's put it this way - if the North inspires the logical side of my brain, the South awakens the creative part.

The next time I get a free day, I just might take a bus to ATC for that coffee trip.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

LT / Book sale find #132

Okay, so it's not exactly my hundred and thirty-second find, and it's also not a piece of literature, but this is still a book and it's definitely one of my favorites right now because of its content and because it cost me a measly Php45:
The water of life. Appropriate.
My new-found like for whisky is actually because of my friend slash landlord Jerry's influence. When he got back from a trip to Korea earlier this year, he brought home a bottle of Laphroaig, a really badass single malt whisky, and I liked it a lot. A number of my Cyrano friends are also whisky aficionados, and every now and then I get to try really good ones when they're sampling bottles at the wine shop.

If there's one thing I learned, it's that you don't drink fine whisky to get drunk - you drink it to taste it, much like wine. My wine phase is actually over; I've been abstaining from alcohol for the most part. But every now and then, I do indulge in whisky, and I challenge my palate to detect the different hints of flavor in the drink. Some are smoky, others are oaky. Some are dry, others are smooth. There's so much more to it than just the alcoholic content, and I'm intent on learning its complexities.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

MW / Practice sessions!

Because the members of Manaha have been crazy busy lately, we haven't had any gigs. Which is a shame because the only way to get better is to play more often as a group. That, and I miss the group! So while we wait for our next gig, I'd like to share with you the recordings from one of our practice sessions.
I miss this.
(photo by Ava Zabat)

Apologies in advance - these are not exactly clean recordings, because (1) you can hear us talking before each song, and (2) these were recorded using my trusty little iPod. Haha! But I actually like listening to these because they help me master our originals.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

HFT / Unleash the tiger!

My friend Franco, a seasoned MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter and coach/instructor, is hell-bent on making me stronger! Although I've been athletic for most of my life, I've sort of "let go" in the sense that I'm no longer as physically fit as I used to be. At the height of my swimming career, I could lift 90-pound weights and do over 60 crunches with ease, but at the time I met him, a laptop felt like the world on my shoulders!

I told Franco that I wanted to get fit again, and he enrolled me in "Project Sexy." Haha! I've been failing miserably in the food department because my schedule lately has forced so much fast food down my throat, but I try to make up for it by going boxing whenever I could. I train mostly in BAMF MMA Center with Coach Vincent, and one time I went to Fight Factory Greenhills (before Happy Thursday in DLSU, haha!).
The ring
(photo by Franco Rulloda)
But so far, the best boxing training I've had was in XCon Tiger City Gym. Although it is open to the public, it's not your typical commercial gym - it's a place where real boxers train (they actually close the gym from 12:00 NN to 3:00 PM everyday so the fighters can train). I felt the difference: they don't train you to get sexy, they train you to fight. My body was sore for almost a week after one session there, but it was totally worth the pain!
Say hello to my right arm. Hehe
(photo by Franco Rulloda)
The trainers there are active boxers. Robin was assigned to me when I went there, and he didn't show mercy! Which is a good thing because I really got to push myself to my limit. No excuses were accepted. I was really close to giving up but he simply refused to let me, so I somehow managed to complete the workout. He corrected my stance and my form, and he also taught me basic footwork.
One of two boxing-related injuries
For the first time since I started, I got bruises from training. One is in my right hand, at the base of my pinkie finger, and the other is in my right arm, at the base of the boxing glove. But they're minor and I just shrugged them off; I still want to keep boxing!

I haven't been back since, but I vow to do so after my Cebu event and Dumaguete vacay! XCon Tiger City Gym is located in 248 Sto. Rosario St., Plainview, Mandaluyong City. For inquiries, call them at 531-5366, or visit


Monday, September 15, 2014

UM / Ukay Tours - any takers?

I can say without ego that I'm pretty knowledgeable in the world of thrift shopping - I've been to shops in Cubao, Makati, Antipolo, Marikina, Guadalupe, Mandaluyong, Baguio, and even Dumaguete - because I never just walk by a thrift shop when I see one! I always go in to check the merchandise, not only for my own benefit, but for other people, which I do through this blog.
Business idea!
I've been writing about my ukay-ukay adventures and finds for a while now, but I figured I could take it up a notch by hosting ukay-ukay tours in the city. My friend Anna gave me the idea, actually - she said that I knew enough good places to actually do it. I could organize it together with the Department of Tourism so it could become an actual city tourism offering.

To be honest, I don't have the time or the energy to pursue this - at least not by myself. I have other projects that need my time and effort, and because I know that this will take a lot of work, I'm not going to try to mount it alone. However, I'm putting the idea out there for anyone may want to make it a reality with me! I think it's a good business, and with the right revenue model, it could totally work!

If you're interested in this, leave me a comment! :)


Saturday, September 13, 2014

My life, as a series of fortuitous events

It is because of the influence of my favorite author of all time, Milan Kundera, that when I reflect on my life at any given moment, I always think of the fortuitous events that have led me to where I am. And it never ceases to amaze me when I look back at what brought me here.

Two years ago, I was on my way back to Manila from a business trip in Punta Fuego, Nasugbu, Batangas when I got the text message from my friend Gershwin, telling me that his wife, Ava, had given birth to their second son, Asher. As the Best Man of their wedding, I had already said yes when he asked me to be one of the godmothers, so after I dropped off my stuff in my condo (it was in Eastwood at the time), I headed straight to the hospital to see visit the family.

As I was in Makati, I messaged my friend Jerry to meet me after work for a couple of cold ones. He said yes, so I thought I was set for the evening, but at the last minute, he cancelled because of some work emergency. So there I was, in the middle of Makati on a Friday night, with nowhere to go. I decided to walk along Palanca Street, and at the end of the street, I found Cyrano.
It certainly did.
(image from the internet)
I walked in, and everything changed from there. I met Alex (and a lot of people thereafter, including Peter, my adopted white father slash marathon trainer who makes a smashing chili), who then recruited me to become Managing Editor of Seven VIP, the team that produced the Ellen Adarna Exercise Video, a certified YouTube viral hit! Through the same team, I met the people from the mixed martial arts group AFC, and through them, I landed in URCC as a project manager.

Actually, the fortuitous events started way before the night Asher was born. I went through a breakup, which was awful for a while but the free time I gained with being single opened one too many doors for me. And because I didn't have to worry about a partner, I was quite free to explore what life had to offer. I got back to singing, I've done a lot of work, I traveled, I got to try boxing, and now I'm involved in MMA. It's amazing, really - everything that's happened to me since 2011.

I'm grateful beyond measure for the Universe's antics that brought me here. I'm happy where I am, but I can't wait to know what's still in store for me.