March 27, 2011

Hilarious Kiddie Talk

Laila tripped on her way to the clubhouse the other day, as she was in such a hurry.  Pointing at her wounds on the knees, elbow, and ankle, she said, "Mom, I didn't realize one trip can cause so much damage."

Laila: "What does furious mean?"
Unna: "It's like a bad cake made with 10 cups anger and half-scoop wild."

Oh, I wish they won't have to grow up so they remain funny and wise ;-)

March 26, 2011

Reality Bites

Casual day in the office.
Kidlat party in Boracay two years ago.
These guys from American Idol.....they seem to be the type I could have a few bottles of beer with if they happen to be people I interact with in real life. But in the episode two weeks ago,  they sang songs from the year they were born and instantly, I felt so ancient. I knew those songs by heart. As an adult.

I deal with people who are way, way, way, way younger than me. But in the adult world, and particularly in the advertising world, you conveniently forget the age diff. How can you not when you share the same passion for creativity and the same thirst for fun and alcohol?

Then once in a while, talks suddenly go to popular songs when you were in school. When that happens, I get a grim reminder that these friends of mine, my co-creators of ad campaigns, my drinking buddies....are young enough to be my children.


I Stared At Numbers Straight In The Eye

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that I, a self-confessed math moron......

-  who got a Fail grade in Algebra in college

 - who is scared shit even of basic addition and subtraction and as a result, does not dare teach her kids Math (Well, I once did and told my daughter that her answer to a simple problem was wrong. The answer turned out to be correct! My husband was so shocked he decided to take over the responsibility of teaching my daughters Math. I can only happily oblige.)

 - who is scared shit of counting money, especially one that involves multiple denominations of bills and coins (that's why I shop with my credit card. If I am abroad and I have to pay in cash, I count the bills one by one, Sesame Street-style. If it involves decimal points, i.e. cents, I get a handful of coins from my pocket and just ask the person tending the shop to just get whatever else is needed. Hehehe.)
    .....IS NOW A PROUD GRADUATE of a Finance course in the country's premier business management graduate school, Asian Institute of Management. I took it with my husband who asked me to face my fear of figures.

    It sure was hard-core difficult but I did it! Clap! Clap! Clap!

    Hop on to one of my all time fave blogs, Kymmie's A Day In the Life Of Us for more This Week I Tried Something New stories.

    March 23, 2011

    Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Talking To Myself

    I must admit that this short-term Finance course I am taking is life-changing as well as illuminating and empowering. 

    But it is just so draining it's making me want to drink (which I am doing every night while doing my homework) and also, to go back to smoking!!! Really,  it's taking all of my willpower to not drag a puff.

    Note to self: You can do it!!!
    PS to self: Aarrrrrrgghhhhh!!!!!

    March 22, 2011

    Finance For Idiots

    Went back to school (at AIM) to attend an executive course called "Finance for Non-Finance People".  I am forced to do this because we set up an advertising agency a year ago and we cannot NOT know our numbers.

    Now, me and math, we don't really jell well. Did I tell you I flunked Math 101 in college?

    But here I am, navigating balance sheets, income statements, cash flow reports, and forecasts. I feel so bad I want to cry "rape" in the classroom.

    By the way, this is a 5-day program. And it's JUST the end of Day 2 today. I now appreciate that quote I read somewhere that says after Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says WTF. 

    March 16, 2011

    We Are All Japanese

     I try to deal with the ordinariness of everyday life here but Japan keeps streaming into my consciousness. It's been four days since the quake and tsunami occurred but my heart still breaks from all the news coming from ground zero.  

    More videos are pouring in from all angles of terror and there are now individual stories being relayed, allowing us to peek into every victim's suffering, from missing family members to the lack of food and water to the radiation scare.

    But you also hear of stories of the great sense of community and resilience pervading the country. Despite the shock of what just happened, the Japanese people consoled each other, waited patiently for hours in line and did not even complain when help did not arrive yet. It is their culture, they say, to persevere even in times like this. 

    I know that no quakes, no tsunami will shake nor sink the Japanese spirit. And yet, the sorrow is just too much to bear. I suppose everyone feels the same as my Twitter wall is awash with so many messages about the devastation.

    “We are all Japanese”, says one, to demonstrate how this has affected all of humanity. But the prayer from World Vision USA summed it up so well. “Thousands of families have lost their loved ones. God, break our hearts, so we can share in their grief.”

    March 13, 2011

    Walk This Way

    For days, I was trying to write a strategy set-up for a brand that I have no affinity for.  (Just imagine being made to develop a strat for say, a plumbing fixture. What do I know about it?) 

    The direction has already been set and the client brief very pointed already as to where they want to take their brand which is all the more difficult for me because I have to make their strategy sound on-brief and at the same time fresh.  

    This is probably one of the reasons why I'm so stressed out because I couldn't get into the groove for days. I needed a quiet place to write but alas, quiet is impossible in the office. I also couldn't write with earplugs on because the music interferes with my thoughts. "I'm so dead", I thought, as the deadline looms near.

    Then on Thursday morning, I woke up very early to try writing again. But at the last minute, I decided to just take a walk around our village. I wasn't thinking of anything. I walked to clear my head in the first place. But as I took my steps, thoughts started running in my head. Magically or miraculously, the strategy piece came to me a few blocks away from our house and I returned home perspiring from the excitement of having an idea already for my piece.

    That's what they say about writing. You sometimes get your ideas at the most unlikely places and in the most unlikely times. In the shower, in the loo, while watching a movie. In my case, it appeared just around the corner.

    Wednesday Revelations

    I was feeling really grumpy since Sunday last week and naturally, the people around me became hapless casualties of war. I was really very impatient and easily irritable and it took a lot of effort for me to not express it but also quite punishing emotionally to contain it.

    Jake, my rock-star looking husband,
    understands my diva moods. 
    Anger is one emotion that is alien to me because I am naturally a happy person and usually also calm and patient. It is very difficult to explain where all the anger now is coming from. I suspect nicotine withdrawal or my hyperthyrodism or stress, maybe.

    So I prayed for laughter Tuesday night. Yes, laughter. Recently, my laughter is hollow. Almost forced. And that depresses me even more.

    When I woke up the next day, my husband Jake shared with me over breakfast some great news from his office that will of course also benefit our family. I almost had a heart attack when I heard this wonderful news.

    Then at work, we went to a high-level Client presentation. The materials got approved and the presentation generously complimented by our clients. This project got all of us excited because it is a big one that will guarantee a lot of buzz again for our agency.

    In the afternoon, I went to church with the girls in the office for the Ash Wednesday mass. We thought we wouldn’t be able to hear mass that day but luckily, we discovered a nearby chapel that had a 530pm schedule. I felt light after the mass, my heart welled up with so much gratitude for the so-far-so-good Wednesday I was having.

    My beautiful girls
    I kissed and hugged the girls tightly when I got home. We weren’t able to talk much and play but I just cuddled with them while they watched TV, as if I’m the one needing their warmth the most. Then after dinner, I scrapped my plan to work to watch with Jake on DVD the movie, “I Love You, Man”. It turned out to be a laugh-out-loud movie.

    I went to bed that night thinking about how my Wednesday unfolded. I only prayed for laughter but what did I get? I got a reminder of the many, many things in my life that give me a sense of joy, fulfillment, and contentment.  Jake and the girls, my job, my friends, the small comforts of life, sharing a laugh with my husband after a tiring day at work. God made me taste all forms of happiness in just one day, and in a very profound way. But He also did not forget to throw in as a bonus some silly movie so I can laugh hysterically too. 

    I feel so loved, from heaven to earth. I shouldn't complain.

    March 12, 2011

    Unimaginable Terror

    I saw pretty much a lot of documentaries showing Japanese citizens doing earthquake drills to  know that the entire country is prepared for catastrophe.  And so it is with sheer terror that I watched this superpower in shambles because of the earthquake and the tsunami.

    I was glued to CNN and couldn't believe what I saw. Videos taken by citizens as it happened made all of us feel the violent tremors and that sound of objects shaking made it all the more horrifying. And the tsunami. How can I even describe it? There are probably no words to describe that aerial image of ships, cars, houses being swept away at an alarming speed.  It is unbelievable and unimaginable.

    I'm sure the whole world is watching and shaking their heads in disbelief that a disaster-ready country such as Japan can still be defenseless against earthquakes and tsunamis of apocalyptic proportions. No, there is no superpower in this world against Mother Nature.

    Both pictures taken from Yahoo News

    March 6, 2011

    fancy pants: let's do disney

    I've had enough fashion talk this week when I wrote about my new bag, Her Cuteness, so I'm going to feature instead my daughter's fashion style for Kymmie's Fancy Pants linky.

    Most kids in the Philippines wear uniform to school. But my children wear "civilian clothes" all the time because they go to a Montessori school that encourages self-expression and individuality even at a young age.

    Unna, who is 8, decides already on what to wear everyday. I thought at first I should just let her wear what she wants to wear even if the colors or the style combination do not match. Quickly did I realize it shouldn't even have crossed my mind. If you look at these pictures, it's clear that she has a sense of style.

    And I just know I should constantly be fashionable as well so I can be truly called my daughter's mother. 

    Denim skirt, white statement shirt and Joe Jonas cap: hand-me-downs from cousin
    Pink statement shirt from SM; denim pants with butterfly patches also a hand-me-down from cousin

    volcano island

    My favorite cousin, Maret (shown here with my kids), came home for a vacation from the US two weeks ago and part of her itinerary was lunch, then snacks at Tagaytay.  All the returning migrants ("balikbayans") in my family do that before they return to the US and I'm not sure if this is something that other Pinoy families also do.

    Actually, even without balikbayans to tour around, we often go there with friends or family for a weekend lunch. Tagaytay is only about an hour away from where we live, that's why. Plus, it is famous for its cool climate, nice restaurants, and a view of the Taal Lake and Taal Volcano.

    Travel websites describe Taal as an island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island! The crater is in the center of the island which you can readily see from a distance because it is the smallest active volcano in the world.

    Strange that we Pinoys have already taken this for granted because Taal Volcano has become so accessible and ordinary. It has become "just" our weekend getaway. But compelled to describe it to chronicle my cousin's visit, for this blog and for the world that randomly stops by for a visit, I suddenly look at this scenic spot in a new light. 

    When I read the posts of bloggers from other countries or when I travel outside the Philippines, I find myself invariably envious and also frustrated (for ourselves) that they enjoy fantastic living conditions and fantastic sights. 

    I am grateful to have had this epiphany today that just like them, we Pinoys also live in a wonderful world.

    Photo credits: OMG Facts and

    March 3, 2011

    blue blooms, baby

    We went to the Powerplant Mall the other day for a lunch-out at Cibo and also, to buy a replacement for my pressed powder. But on our way up to Cibo, the big bold SALE letters of CMG beckoned. I bought nice wedges from the same store last January but before that....well I couldn't remember anymore the last time I bought myself a pair of shoes. So maybe it wouldn't hurt if I buy another pair.

    So I bought a nice strappy sandals in nude with fantastic silver heels. (I like everything funky but I also want something that will allow me to wear it for years and years until my shoes give up on me. So you will never catch me wearing that Romanesque sandals that extend to the ankles because I know that while today it's in, the next day it will be sooo out.)

    But while I am happy with my strappy sandals, the one that brought me to seventh heaven was THE bag. I wasn't planning to buy one but the bag called me. Yes, it did. It went, "Pssssttt..." and when I looked at the source of the sound, I saw this charming black and blue beauty. 

    While my heart skipped at the sight of this pretty bag, I tried to remain cool and just said, "You're so cute." I managed to pick it off the shelf and looked at myself in the mirror. I gasped at my reflection carrying the bag. I thought, "Ohmigosh, this bag was born for me."

    Still, I tried to mute the nagging voice in my head and the voice of the bag that says, "Pick me. Choose me. Love me." It was ringing in my ears for sure. But with a firm resolve, I left the store to head off to Mac Cosmetics, which is why I am in the mall in the first place.

    But after buying the powder, my friend Teeny went back to CMG again. This time, the bag called again, "Psssttt..." I picked it up, checked my reflection in the mirror carrying Her Cuteness, and thought with resignation, "Ohmigarsh, we're really meant for each other." So with a skip to my step, I went to the counter to buy the bag (at 50% off so there really was no point ignoring this baby).

    When I went back to the office, I immediately showed it off to my girlfriends and everybody just echoed what my thought voice said to me. It has my name written all over it, or shall I say, it has my name intricately woven on its very fabric. It's so you, they said. Another friend, Lester, said it best. "You did not choose the bag. It chose you." Yep, I couldn't agree more.

    March 1, 2011

    social network

    When Social Network won Best Adapted Screenplay in the Oscars, I thought I should make a point about how execution and technique should weigh the same as concept and theme.

    If I may digress, in our industry (advertising), people oftentimes put more premium on concept than execution. I don't understand that. 

    Take this movie. It was brilliantly directed, acted out, edited, scored, and written to merit so many Oscar nominations and a statue eventually for the screenplay (aside from editing and musical scoring). But if you read the book it is based from, "The Accidental Billionaires", you wouldn't think that it would spawn such a great by-product.

    The book jacket reeks of sensationalism.
    Quite unexpected from an author with a Harvard pedigree.
    The book, in my opinion, was written like a tabloid article: sensationalized, exaggerated, and speculative (appropriate for yes, tabloids but totally unacceptable for expensive hardbounds). The screenplay, although based on the same story, did not follow the book to the letter. It had its own structure, its own storytelling style which I think at best, is involving and engaging. 

    Both did not paint a very good picture of Mark Zuckerberg. But I thought the book sounded controversial and vindictive even, while the movie showed more compassion for Zuckerberg as it showed him in various states of isolation, tenderness, anxiety, geekiness (that is almost not of this world), superiority, awkwardness, and innocence all bundled into this one person, whose life revolved around codes, keyboards, and computer screens.

    I am always curious about books being turned into movies. This is one prime example of how one story can be written oh so differently. I'm glad to have been exposed to both as it makes me appreciate more the difference between bad, trashy writing and impeccable craftsmanship.

    And aside from the Oscars, one other measure of the movie's success is the reaction of the FB founder himself. He scoffed at the book but he took the whole staff of Facebook to see Social Network. Then they went out afterwards to drink appletinis. He must have liked it.