Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Total Eclipse

One of the perks of the new job: I now get invited to movie premieres! (Last time, I just tagged along with the OK! girls.) Last night, I was happy to attend an advance screening of...

Eclipse, the third installment in the Twilight saga. And my date was, of course, Twi-hard Coni! I really couldn't think of a better person to ask. We got an Eclipse tote bag with a paperback copy of the book. We also got free ice cream courtesy of Selecta, and other eats by Figaro. And in the theater, we sat beside a dude who had actually been to Forks! How cool is that? He told us that there's a sign in the real La Push that says "No Vampires Allowed"! Haha.

Another highlight:

Photo op with Nanay Coring, the National Bookstore matriarch! This was National Bookstore's first movie premiere, and of course she had to be there. Poor thing was nursing a broken arm though. We asked her about it, and she said she fell in the bodega. "Bakit nasa bodega pa po kayo?" ("Why were you in the warehouse?") Coni asked. Nanay Coring replied matter-of-factly, "Aba siyempre, nandoon ang trabaho!" ("Of course! That's where the work is!") At eighty-something, she's still at it! Amazing.

Since the cinema at Podium was relatively small, it felt like such an intimate screening, a private little affair. I won't spoil the movie for anyone, but suffice it to say that it was better than the first two (still somewhat cheesy--can't be avoided--but less so) and that I hereby declare my allegiance to Team Jacob!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding: Indian Weddings 101

I love love love Indian weddings! I attended my first one a few years ago and it introduced me to the true definition of the word "spectacle"! While some of my Indian friends are already kind of jaded when it comes to going to weddings, I'm always thrilled to be invited to one.

There are so many events (and prayers in between) leading up to the actual wedding: The Mendhi ceremony is when the bride gets these henna tattoos drawn on her hands, arms, and feet--the letters of the groom's name are hidden in the intricate design. Alas, I missed Mads's as I wasn't in Cebu yet. But during my Indian-themed bachelorette party, Mads served as Mendhi artist, drawing fabulous peacocks on everyone's hands.

(Top) Mads hard at work at my bachelorette party; (above) my glowing best friend at her Mendhi ceremony

On the official day of festivities at Mads and Mukesh's wedding, there was the ring ceremony and the Sagri--a ceremony where the groom's family gets to know the bride, if I understand correctly. These were followed by one of my most favorite events at Indian weddings: the Sangeet.

The grand stage at M&M's Sangeet

The Sangeet is a big program prepared by the bride and groom's family and friends. I really enjoy it because, aside from being very entertaining, it's a manifestation of the family and friends' love for the couple. So much time and effort go into preparing for it; several practice sessions take place so people can perfect a dance, a song number, a skit. I can't imagine Pinoys doing this over and over again--sometimes several times a year when there is one wedding after another!

The bride and groom, part of an audience of about 600 guests, show their appreciation

M&M's Sangeet revolved around "Gossip Auntie," a takeoff from Gossip Girl. Gossip auntie was a fictitious busybody auntie who, through the course of sending tsismis text messages about M&M, effectively told the story of the couple. The messages also served as introductions to the dance numbers.

The finale was a number by the friends, which I choreographed. It was a dance-off between the couple's guy and girl friends. We had around three practice sessions before heading for Cebu, which wasn't easy considering this was during the transition period between my old and new jobs! But anything for my BFF!

(Top) Mads joined the girls, (above) while Muks joined the boys. I called Mahesh (leftmost guy) my star student because he really wanted to master the dance!

After the program, everyone usually gets on the dance floor to shake their groove thang...

The bride struttin' her stuff

And when I say "everyone," I mean everyone--young and old!

Hamil and I LOVED this guy! He was just dancing all. Night. Long. With anyone and everyone!

I love how people are so game to dance, no prodding required. Pinoys are normally shy when it comes to dancing at weddings (I'd like to think our wedding was an exception though!), so Indian weddings are a refreshing change! Everyone's just so ready to party! (The free-flowing alcohol certainly helps...)

The following evening, there was a seaside barbecue, complete with bands and fire dancers.

But this was just a prelude to the night's main event: the Youngsters' Party. If you haven't figured it out by now, Indians are all about partying--and they definitely go all out when it comes to costume parties! M&M's theme was Madonna and Michael Jackson, so you had to come dressed as either one. Just so you have an idea of how seriously they take the whole costume business:

(From top) M&M as M (Michael) and M (Madonna)--Muks wore a scary-ask mask; the bride's (and my) sister was legally blonde; Mahesh, who always has showstopper costumes, with his gorgeous wife Karis (aka Riana)

Mads wore a Preview-worthy dress by Patrick Galang. And I came as A League of Their Own Madonna, first because I didn't want to wear heels for hours as I anticipated a night of dancing, and second because I figured no one else would come in that outfit!

(Left) My costume; (right) my inspiration

The following day was finally wedding day!

Til this day, I don't understand exactly what happens at Indian weddings. During previous weddings, people seated beside me would try to explain what was going on. All I know is that at some point, the bride and groom walk around the fire...

And...the bride changes her name! It totally blew my mind the first time I heard about it. They announce what the bride's new name is going to be (Madhuri is now Rania); the bride also takes on the husband's first name as her middle name, and his last name as her last name. She becomes a whole new person! She gets to choose her name (there are auspicious letters given), so that's kind of fun. Normally, though, it's only the husband's side and her new acquaintances that call her by her new name. To me, she will forever be Madhuri!

Also, the bride is supposed to leave ALL her old stuff at her old home when she moves into her husband's home! Wow. means new shoes for Mads!

After the wedding, the bride and groom have some sort of closed-door salt ceremony with the groom's family. Then they head to the reception for one more night of partying! But of course.

Photos (except for my bachelorette and Madonna costume) by Jamie Lihan (watermarked) and Heidi Valencia for Imagine Nation

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Launch Outfit

On a related note, I wore this outfit to the book launch...

Dress from Uniqlo, belt and earrings from SM, shoes from Janylin, y'all recognize that Swatch watch, and that clutch from a friend.

A little something about Uniqlo, for the uninitiated: It's like a Japanese Gap, and I was introduced to it by my NY-based brother. The store in SoHo is packed with stylish people looking for reasonably priced (yes, even after involuntarily and mentally converting from dollars to pesos) finds with a bit of an edge. I bought a couple of things for my husband there too!

The dress is pretty versatile--I can wear the shell with or without a belt. It's loose so I don't feel self-conscious in it. It's got slits on the sides, so I don't feel so mumsy--there's quite a bit of leg exposed through those slits when I belt the dress. I can even wear this as a top if I use a wider cinch belt. Oh, Uniqlo. Someday, I'll be back.

Real Home Ideas 5 Book Launch

Real Living, my former magazine, launched the fifth book in its Real Home Ideas series last June 23. Five books, one for every year I was with this mag! Read more about Real Home Ideas 5: Small Space solutions here.

Behind-the-scenes info: That actually isn't the final final cover! If you get your own copy, you'll see a brown bunny peaking into the page on the left-hand side, beside the hot pink bunny! There's also a bit more of the blue wall in the final version. On a side note, that Eames rocker is love.

It's funny how I still refer to RL as "we" or "us." It's a hard habit to break--I was with, er, them for half a decade, after all! Within those years, I attended six book launches (including one that wasn't part of the Real Home Ideas series). While each was fun, I think this last one has got to be my favorite!

Maybe it's because I didn't have to think about the event so much, and simply had to attend.

(Top) With RL staffers, former RL art director and now Good Housekeeping creative director Carlo, and Frances, whose super pretty home is on the cover of our book; (above) the girls of RL, past and present

Maybe it's because of the fabulous setups by stylist Issa Villar and designers Frenjick Quesada, Grace Moslares, and Kristine Neri.

Grace and her bedroom setup

Maybe it's because I got to see people that I don't get to see so often nowadays.

Well, I thankfully still get to see Coni (far left) every day! But I don't get to work with writer Chinggay, stylist Issa, and photog Miguel as much anymore.

Maybe it's because some of the most unexpected people surprised me by showing up!

(Top) Former teammates (although I'm still hoping that they'd show up on the field one of these days) SGV partner AMP and "The Shadow" Reggie; (above) my mom--who hasn't missed a book launch--with my cousin Ate Bing and my niece Celine, who are here from abroad

Maybe it's because romance was in the air...

Tisha Likes this!

Maybe it was the food from Amici, the conversations I had with various people, the generally festive atmosphere. Whatever it was, I thoroughly enjoyed myself! If you weren't able to join in the fun, at least run out and buy the book! It was my last project with them as a full-time member of the staff. It really is a great book--full of tips and ideas and inspiration and beautiful homes! Only P195, available at bookstores.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tishie's Travels: Bicol Express

I've been remiss. I often say that the irony of having so much to blog about is having no time to actually sit down and do it. Instead of boring you with excuses, let me give you a little photo of somethin' purty...

That is the beach at Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte, Bicol. Believe you me, that photo doesn't even do justice to just how beautiful the beach is--one of the most gorgeous I've ever seen. Fine sand, comparable to Boracay's. Crystal clear water that takes on a refreshing aquamarine shade from afar.

Hamil and I found ourselves here on Independence Day weekend. I desperately needed a break, and we had been wanting to take a trip to this little-known place after seeing such awesome photos online. It looked like paradise. And since we had so much fun on our previous camping trip, we had grand plans of doing it again.

The deets, in case you want to go to Calaguas yourself:
  • We took an 8:30 pm Piltranco (or Philtranco...the signs are different) bus to Daet from Cubao.
  • We arrived in Daet at around 4:30 am, had breakfast at a pares and tapsilog place, and waited and waited and waited for other people who were also headed to the island.
  • We then took a jeepney to the dock, then took a two-hour (!) boat ride to Calaguas. Be warned: It isn't exactly a boat with proper seats. More like a barge.
After two hours, you'll see...

Paradise, no? Not quite. Once we got to the island, we found that it was just overrun with campers. Tents three inches apart--my husband called it a concentration camp. We decided to pitch our tent elsewhere and were dismayed to find trash strewn all over the place! How disappointing.

We found out that a certain beer company had some sort of event the night before, complete with bands. So much for obscurity. But that supposedly accounted for all the trash. I really really really do hope that the inhabitants would take care of their home, and that the local government would implement an efficient waste management system. Otherwise, I fear there won't be pretty pictures like these much longer...

We were so bothered by the big crowd, considering we were there for peace and quiet. And it was scorching hot and uncomfortable--a tent feels like a sauna during the day. We found respite under the shade of a tree and a makeshift open tent that Hamil (and a friend of his) erected using bamboo that he found around the island! But after a few hours, we changed our plans and decided to head back to the mainland.

The original plan was to stay in Calaguas overnight, then spend the following day at Bagasbas Beach before boarding a bus back to Manila in the evening. We decided to head to Bagasbas that afternoon.

Bagasbas, one of the popular surf spots, didn't offer a beach as pristine as Calaguas, but I liked how laidback it was. Most visiting surfers had left, which made the place feel like a sleepy surf town, as chill as the stereotypical surfer dude. Just the kind of place I needed.

We checked into Surfers Inn, where we feasted on...

Sisig, fried chicken, grilled squid

Hamil caught a few (itty-bitty) waves that afternoon while I opted to while away the hours with Jane Austen. The next afternoon was pretty much the same, with my husband trying his hand (er legs?) at a short board for the very first time.

While he was in the water, he overheard a couple of foreigners who were floating nearby. "It feels like bathwater!" one commented, utterly relaxed. "I don't even want to surf anymore!" I sat on the shore and watched my husband and his valiant attempts with the more challenging new board. I also spent more time with Ms. Austen, and was tickled to see a little surprise across the sky when I looked up...

I've seen loads of rainbows before, but it doesn't get old. Seeing one always makes me smile! While Calaguas offered all this natural beauty enveloped by chaos, the less attractive Bagasbas gave me the relaxing environment I was pining for. It was kind of like Bagasbas was raising a colorful middle finger up at Calaguas, and smugly telling me that I had come to the right place at last.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Recipe: Baked Chicken with Sour Cream Paprika

For lunch today, I whipped up something fairly simple: baked chicken breast with sour cream paprika, served with brown rice and a side of corn and carrots.

I posted this on my Facebook wall, and it seems that a few people were thrown off by the whole "baked" and "chicken breast" thing. They automatically assumed that this was a healthy dish. Let me warn you--it ain't going to win any nutrition awards, as far as I can tell. I've come to associate the color white in food (except for egg whites) with an alarming amount of calories--cream, sugar, bad carbs like white rice and white bread--and this is no exception! But you know what? It tastes pretty good, if I do say so myself. My husband, after having two servings, remarked, "I haven't eaten this much in a long time!"

Baked Chicken with Sour Cream and Paprika

1 can cream of mushroom soup (evil white food)
1 container sour cream (evil white food)
A dash of paprika
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
4 chicken breasts (aha! Good white food!)

1. Preheat oven at 350F.
2. In a bowl, mix together cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. Add paprika, adjusting to taste. (Ours ended up quite spicy, which we both liked.)
3. Mix in lemon juice, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Place chicken breasts in an 8" x 8" pan or baking dish. Pour enough of the cream mixture to cover the chicken.
5. Cover pan or baking dish with foil and pop into the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes.
6. Take out of oven, remove foil, and return to oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Back to Back, Baby!

I tend not to do two posts a day, but this is an exception.

Epic game. Sloppy first half. Down by double digits. The worst scoring output everrr (or at least this series!) from the Black Mamba--sure, he had 23 points, but 6-of-24? Come on. (At least he tried to make up for it with rebounds.) There was also an inexcusable number of missed free throws. But still, the Staples Center roared behind their team. Artest hustled on both ends--scoring when it mattered and being the bane of Paul Pierce's life. Fisher made a crucial three. Gasol...well, he's proven this season that he ain't soft y'all.

Kobe bailed this team out repeatedly over this season (remember those six buzzer beaters?). This time, they had his back. Awesome Hollywood ending. LAKERS, BABY!!!

Morning Show

I'm not a morning person in the sense that getting out of bed is an absolute struggle for me. But when I guest on a morning show, I have to be up and about even before the sun is.

With host Eunice Marino. People who saw me later that day couldn't recognize me with straight hair!

Yesterday, I guested on Net25's Home Page, and since the show airs at 8:00 am, this meant I had to be at the studio by 7:00 am And given the crazy Manila traffic these days, this meant I had to be ready to leave my place by 6:00 am. Which means I had to be up by 5:30 am! Thirty minutes was all the time I needed to drink some Milo, take a shower, and throw on this simple outfit...

White empire-cut tube from Greenhills, jeans from Robinsons, ouchy white shoes from Janylin, bag from Landmark, Chanel-ish jacket from a friend (no brand. It just says "Made in Italy"!), watch by Swatch. I don't remember where I got the shades from. My coverup didn't register well on my cam, but it's this cute, nubby, predominantly baby pink jacket.

I like guesting on Net25 because the vibe is so chill, and everyone's just so polite (even at an ungodly hour when I'm still supposed to be under the covers). I've guested on shows where the vibe was frenzied and stressful, and people were downright rude! And one of the little perks at this particular network: The people from the show usually send me off with a four-layer sandwich!

There are supposed to be four pieces but one had already found its way into my stomach by the time I remembered to take a picture...

Yes, I'm that easy to please.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding: Setting the Scene

As I mentioned in a previous post, my lovely best friend Madhuri recently got married! Mads and Mukesh's wedding was held at the Imperial Palace Waterpark, Resort and Spa. The two wanted a destination wedding, but it had to be a place that was big enough to accommodate the hundreds of guests that were flying in from all over the world. They found this new place in Cebu, and it was pretty awesome!

(Top) A view of the grounds from our building. (Above) The cool slides that Hamil and I were raring to try out!

After finding the perfect place, the couple went about setting the scene. Since their first names both began with M (I say "began" because Mads has since changed her name...more on that in a later post), their main theme was M&M! So cute. They made use of the logo, which they tweaked so that it would have an Indian-inspired print. This logo appeared on practically everything, including bag tags that were given to us at the airport.

We arrived a little early, so we had to wait for our room to be prepared. While we were waiting, we got to see the couple of the hour. I was so excited to see Mads!

Mads in a gorgeous dress that she designed. Me in a sunny yellow romper that I bought for P300 (around $7)! Haha. I had a shawl for the chilly plane ride to Cebu.

After a quick photo op with my BFF, Hamil and I then proceeded to check into our oh-so-pretty room! It reminded me so much of local home store Heima (some of the furniture pieces had similar shapes to stuff in their first collection) and I was so pleased with our girly watermelon color palette! Other rooms were a deep blue, which made them look so masculine; ours seemed nice and sunny and airy!

I had been having trouble sleeping before this trip, but each night in this room, I slept sooo well. Maybe it was mostly because I just felt so relaxed, being away from reality and spending great quality time with my husband!

The couple thoughtfully and generously placed a welcome basket in each room. It had snacks, some drinks, a fan (it was the height of summer, after all), and some other cool stuff.

And of course it had a packet of M&Ms!

The welcome basket also included a tote bag and a brochure which listed resort info and events lined up. The purple album is the wedding invitation.

The thing you have to know about Hindu weddings is that there isn't just one ceremony and one reception like typical Catholic weddings. There are all these prayers, ceremonies, and parties, so the whole thing goes on for days! So after we got settled, I went to the ballroom to practice for the night's event called the sangeet, where family and friends have a big program for the couple.

With fellow Pinays K (aka Karylle) and stylist extraordinaire Pam Q (kind of like the Philippines' Rachel Zoe, although I don't know how she'd feel about that description. Haha), and Mads's other best friend Tash.

There were 10 (count 'em, 10!) dances in all, and Mads asked me to choreograph the finale. My friends K and Pam wanted to join this dance, but they were unable to attend practice. A couple of weeks before the event:

K: I want to dance but I can't go to practice.
M: We shot a video of it!
K: Maybe I could just learn from the video!
M: Yeah, Tisha choreographed.
K: might be so complicated then.
M: Trust me, I think she really dumbed it down for us.

Hahaha. I had no doubt that K could catch up, considering she's used to doing last-minute practices for the noon-time shows that she's on! Pam, meanwhile, decided to join the dance that afternoon. Being a fellow CADs (Company of Ateneo Dancers) alumna, she had no problem picking up the steps--or just winging it. In fact, fresh from a plane and plunging into practice, she just listened to me bark orders over the music, like, "OK, then we'll do the same thing but backwards!" and she would get it!

After practice, Pam and I headed to her room where we just hung out and talked for over an hour. We hadn't seen each other in months and it was just so nice catching up. "That's our six-month summary!" she quipped. And then I headed back to my room to get ready for the night's events, and left Pam to figure out how to wear her sari!

More on the wedding in a succeeding post!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today's Lunch

If I had the time, I really would make something for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. (I hesitate to say "cook" because today's lunch didn't involve much cooking.) And I would bake in between meals! Sigh.

Today, I pan-fried salmon patties from the supermarket, then put them in buttered and toasted English muffins. And since my body's been crying out for natural food, I made a side salad of lettuce and roasted veggies (tomatoes and eggplants drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and crushed peppercorns...was too cheap to buy zucchini, and I'm not a fan of bell peppers!) with Italian dressing. Would've been nice to have shaved parmesan, but I settled for the available fake parmesan at home. Nice, relatively light lunch--though that salmon would have been loads better with some cream cheese! Mmmm.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Aaand Rolling!

At my last job, I had a bunch of TV appearances and radio tours. In fact, since last year, I've been on air nearly every month. Our PR girl Kriztel (whom I fondly called our pimp) was very gung-ho about getting us spots. I used to be reluctant, for fear of saying something idiotic on air. But eventually I realized that it was great exposure for my former mag, and since I loooved the mag, I was willing to promote it to death. It became so easy to get me to go on these promotional things that Kriztel started calling me her TV Fairy!

On the set of ANC's Shoptalk. My top from SM, jeans by Jag, shoes from CMG.

At this new job, our PR girl Ingrid has been asking me and our managing ed to appear on all these shows. I really would like to, but things have been crazy busy that for the most part, I've had to say no. With the travel time to the studios (traffiiiiic), and the hair and makeup, and the waiting, these would've taken up so much time--time which I needed to spend at my desk.

After the nth time that Ingrid asked me, the guilt kicked in. I didn't want her to think I was uncooperative, and the taping schedule she gave worked with my sched for that day. And so I finally had my first ever TV guesting as acting editor in chief!

Such pretty , fit hosts! And super warm and upbeat! Can you believe Christine has five kids?!

It was on a show called Full Time Moms, hosted by lovely ladies Christine Jacob and Suzi Entrata. I had to demonstrate how to waterproof a bag. My outfit wasn't exactly the most appropriate for a demo, but I didn't have much time to plan (I only found out about the morning taping the night before). So I just threw on something light-colored and airy to make it apt for a morning show.

With the hosts and Smart Parenting editor in chief Mia, who also taped a segment for the same episode. My top from Wisdom at Archeology, skirt from SM (notice a pattern here?), shoes by Parisian!

I think this also marked the first time that I appeared on TV with my hair up! Haha. Hairstylists normally give me big, sexy waves or curls. This time, the hairstylist couldn't blowdry my hair because we were right at the studio and they were already taping the other segments; hence, we had to settle for hair appliances that didn't make any noise (i.e., a flat iron). He gave me a cool, red-carpet-worthy updo that I wish I could replicate for weddings!

I normally only tell my parents and my husband when I'm appearing on TV, but I do want to promote my current mag to death now! So if anyone's interested in seeing my super short segment, it's airing this Friday at 10:30 a.m. on QTV.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

From Paris, with Love

My latest Parisian* purchase...

Sigh. Aren't they fabulous? They're made of this suede-y kind of leather, and they're in the current queen of neutrals: greige. (A mix of gray and beige--great as a wall color!) They were P1,299.75 (about $29), pricey for this particular brand. But similar styles in other brands would probably go for around P3,000 (about $67...a lot of money on these shores).

Including my strappy baby pink sandals (not pictured below because they look pretty ratty from being overused), my Parisian shoe total is now seven pairs.

I've gotten sooo many comments on practically all these shoes, and people normally can't believe it when I say they're Parisian. A few things about the pictured pairs (clockwise from top left):

1. My latest pair. I wore these on my first ever TV appearance as acting editor in chief! (More on that in a future post.)
2. These continue to get oohs and ahhs whenever I wear 'em! They're probably the most commented-on pair that I own.
3. A co-worker thought this rock n' roll pair was from Aldo! I love the thick wooden heel.

4. I decided I needed a colorful pair in my shoe wardrobe, and thus got these orange flats with cabbage rose accents (or, as described by PAG, "goldenrod with rosettes"). I wanted something comfortable and stylish that I could wear all day. I wore these during my NY food tour and got a couple of nice comments. (Most people were wearing sneakers, which I can't bring myself to do unless a) they're Chucks or b) I'm attending a dance class. I believe tourists can be fashionable too!)

5. The first pair of flats I ever liked. I used to veer away from flats because I figured they made me look squat, since I'm pretty short. But these faux snakeskin shoes were just too cute to pass up. Too cute in fact that I even settled for a pair that was a half size smaller (the only remaining pair that was remotely close to my size)! And no, it doesn't feel like I'm subjecting myself to that age-old practice of foot-binding.

6. I tuck skinny jeans or leggings into these gladiator-type flats. I also sometimes wear 'em with dresses to give the feminine numbers an edge.

The great thing about these shoes is that I could wear 'em all day--whether they're flats or heels. I really wish I could keep adding to my collection, but I'm running out of space in my dressing room--my husband has had to move his shoes into the guest room! Plus, I've decided to put a halt on all my spending. We've got some plans brewing and they need moolah to fund them, so time to start seriously saving up!

*Parisian shoes are available at SM Department Stores.