July 30, 2011

The Color Of My Skin

Here in the Philippines, women are buying all sorts of products to make their skin white. The numbers are startling—1 out of 2 women use whitening soap/lotion, believing that it buys them beauty. And acceptance.

As for me, I am thankful for:
1.    The color of my skin. A Portuguese-American colleague call it a “glorious tan”.  I call it by its basic, simple color. Brown. Proudly brown.
2.    Self-worth. I don’t need beauty products to change who I am at my very core. I am petite. I have dark skin. And I’m getting old. I am very Asian. Very Pinay. And also, very cute ;-)
3.    Sense of Humor. Ok. I just really wanted to tell myself that I am beautiful. Even though from an objective, rational, non-delusional plane, I know I'm not. But what can I do? I feel it. I project it to the world. And as this picture will show you, I truly believe it. ;-)

I am writing this for Maxabella's linky of gratefuls. Please just click the button for the other wonderful reasons on why people in the blogland are thankful.

July 29, 2011

Family Clown

People who do not know me well usually think I am such a serious, intense, too-professional, cold and stiff individual. Truth is, I am, at times, that person. It must be because I give my heart and soul to my work and I expect the same level of passion and intensity from the people I work with.

But there’s another side of me known to my family and friends and this is one curious thing I share with my Mom and my daughter Laila. I love to goof around and make a fool of myself. I love having a laugh. 

July 27, 2011

Deliver Us From Darkness

I’ve been sick the past two days and because I had nothing to do at home (I just know if I started working it won’t stop), I had all the time in the world to read about the horrific massacre in Norway. I cannot imagine how someone can have the heart to chase after kids running, hiding behind bushes, swimming away in terror and fire bullets at them. It takes a possessed soul, if he has one, to do such a savage act. I saw his recent shot and it was so evil it sent shivers down my spine. He was smiling, as if immensely satisfied at the atrocities he just committed.

The media has published some portions of his twisted manifesto and I hope they will stop doing that. I think they should not give this person the space by which he will be able to express his ideology because there are like-minded lunatics and extremists out there who might be now emboldened to carry out the same sinister acts.

It was a good thing therefore that Norway decided to conduct the hearing behind closed doors. I’m sure that that neo-Nazi (I refuse to even mention his name) would have loved to be given a podium so he can address his fellow fascists that in this day and age, I am shocked to discover, are still scattered across the world.

And while I already felt simultaneously horrified, revolted, and pained at the initial news of the rampage, I still did not expect the wave of sorrow I felt upon seeing the pictures that Time Magazine published after the crime. Nothing, I guess, is more heartbreaking for a mother like me than the sight of children and parents grieving from such a harrowing, painful loss.

As I write this, I hug my kids, hoping that they will not know ever…ever!!!....dear Lord please, the darkness in this world.

Relatives offer flowers near the youth camp in Utoeya Island.
Friends of victims. They looked stunned and in a state of shock and disbelief.
These succeeding photos show various states of grief. But this picture of a Mom holding her daughter tight touched me so much.
 It's as if she's trying to protect her and just as much as she's drawing strength from her.

I can't imagine their pain ;-(

*Photos by Paula Bronstein and Jeff Mitchell of Getty Images via Time Magazine

July 24, 2011

Fancy Meets Crazy

For a major presentation that day, I wore a simple gray hoodie, denims and a kick-ass pair of boots. Working in an advertising firm allows you to be not too corporate-y and I like that about our industry. Anyways, we were holed up in the conference room for the most part of the day because of that major presentation. But we still managed to goof around with some headgears (yes, we remembered to remove it before the meeting). I just love the Agency life!

If you want to see some 5-star fancypants, hop on to Kymmie's blog by clicking the button below ;-)

July 23, 2011

Tina Fey's Bossypants

Always glammed-up on magazine covers, she chose a bizarre image for her book jacket. 

It was out of stock for while but I eventually got myself a copy of “Bossy Pants” by Tina Fey. It must be because I've been waiting for this since ages ago or because Tina Fey’s reputation as an extraordinary writer preceded herself- -  that’s why I was a little disappointed that the book was not the heavyweight I thought it should be. Or it could be my fault. I have set her high on a pedestal I expect everything she does to be 100% perfect.

But hey, that’s Tina Fey- - so it is still a gem of a book, all in all. It is hard enough to be a writer. To be a funny, clever, intelligent writer is even more so.

The book talked about the famous Sarah Palin episode in her life (which made me watch on youtube again her brilliant sketches of Sarah Palin). It is also interesting to note how such a self-assured, overachieving person can suffer a meltdown in her office when she gets upset or when she suffers from the guilt typical of working moms. (It actually makes me feel less embarrassed about my own dramas at work ;-)

The other thing I learned in the book is that Tina Fey’s background is actually improv—which, in my opinion, is the most difficult brand of comedy.  I’ve also tracked on youtube her interviews in David Letterman. She is really one smartypants (and beautiful and hot at the same time. How can she get to be all of that?) and I think it is her years of experience in improv, aside from her genes, that made her such a quick-witted, gifted artist.

I end this post with one of the videos I saw that showed her doing improv with Ellen de Generes. If you haven’t seen it yet, check this out and have a laugh.

July 17, 2011

How Wonderful Life Is

I showed this commercial to my daughters and they were so amazed they asked me to play it over and over again. Hats off to KFC and its Agency in South Africa for coming up with this incredible spot. I love everything about it. Brilliant direction. Great acting from all the actors. Seamless editing job. Great insight. Heart-tugging soundtrack (the song happens to be one of my all-time faves). I really, really love this.

July 16, 2011

My Drinking Buddy

I was already in my 30’s when I got married. Before that, I kept pretty long relationships and when it ended, I just led a normal life with friends until the next one came along.

I was very choosy even with men I date. I like smart conversationalists (but not intellectual snobs). I like cool dudes. I like people who can make me laugh. I like people who are good at their profession.

And because there were a few good men (a few good, single, straight men) during periods when I wasn’t in a relationship, I didn’t date much. I did not market myself. I was doing ok as a single entity. When I was in my late 20’s, and with no potential relationships to cultivate, I thought I would end up an old maid. But I was actually ok with that, too.

Then Jake came along. I distinctly remember that my first glimpse of him sent some crazy signals in my gut that he was the one.

Long-haired. Check.
Dresses well. Wears cool boots. Check.
Walks with a little, almost indistinguishable swagger. Check.  
Reads John Steinbeck. Check.

To make the long story short, he became my boyfriend for 5 years and then we got married (which I shared here) and we have so far been together a total of 15 years.

Now, 15 years….that’s a loooong time. So I am devoting this Saturday’s gratitude list to the wonders of life with this man.

I am thankful that…

1.    We never run out of things to talk about.  We still enjoy conversations about the books we like, about our passions and also about the most mundane things in the world.
2.    We still enjoy going out. Beer nights in a bar. Wine nights in a fancy restaurant. With friends. Or just the two of us.
3.    We are still so alike and yet so different from each other. While we share a lot of interests, we retained our own individuality and grew as persons independently from one another.

You might be wondering why I am such a happy gal……well, he is the answer.

For more of life-affirming posts, hop on to Maxabella Loves.

July 14, 2011

Potter Frenzy

I have not said anything to my officemates about my Harry Potter experience because I do not want them to be biased even before they watch the movie. I also don’t want to give spoilers to blog friends on how the movie version was like.

But I am just dying to talk about Harry Potter so I will just content myself with a feature on my Harry Potter collection.

I have all the books of course (and I have the audio books in my Kindle). But my favorite book cover is Half-Blood Prince. All the books available in the Philippines are the American cover versions. I got the UK version for Book 6 because I happened to be in the Bangkok airport the first day it came out and was surprised to see that they carry a different cover.

 Aside from the books, I also have these. Fantastic Beasts and Magical Creatures and Quidditch Through The Ages, if you remember, were introduced as Harry Potter's reads in Book 1.

Oh, I also have this teeny-weeny thingie in my office....

But it is nothing compared to the collection of my friend/teammate and fellow Potterhead, Lester. He is watching the movie this very moment and I can't wait to have coffee with him tomorrow so we can talk about the magic that JK Rowling has brought into our lives.

July 13, 2011

Harry Potter 7 Ends

It can be overwhelming to be one of the first people in the world to watch the finale of Harry Potter. I am a true-blue Potterhead. I have read each book at least 3x, and the third time usually happens before the movie is shown. I thought it was a big mistake though because the moments you conjure in your head will always be more spectacular than the actual movie. So I end up spectacularly disappointed as well every time the movie version is shown. I always say, “Oh, that scene should be like this.” Or, “The book says it’s like this.”

So for the final episode, I prepared myself well. I did not touch the book, I did not watch any trailers, I did not read any publicity about the movie. I want to watch it without thinking too much of the details. I just want to experience the movie one last time and be swept off my broom.

We already purchased tickets for the first-day screening. But yesterday, my friend surprised me with premiere tickets to Harry Potter at IMAX, which has a screen thrice bigger than the screen in regular theaters. And the movie is in 3D, so you can say that I am in a condition to be engulfed with all the possible sensations known to cinema wizardry.

I will not reveal any details about the movie. Suffice it to say that I left the cinema with thoughts of what-could-have-beens and what-should’ve-beens but the bottomline is that the movie presented the truth about Harry Potter and the story, and what the whole thing represents to me, a devoted Potter fan. And this fan cried several times during the film, even in moments that are not supposed to evoke sorrow.

It is so heartbreaking to see this story end. But I will watch it again tomorrow.

July 11, 2011

Fancy Pants: Polka-Wonka-Doodle-DooWitzy (Huwwwaaattt???)

If you read my post last Saturday, you would have learned that the past week was a crazy week with people getting sick and the load enormously heavy for the tired shoulders of those who managed to show up in the office.

To cope with the situation, we just made a big joke out of our troubles. From time to time, the quiet will be interrupted by the collective sound effects of a really disgusting retch.

Or, somebody will just yell, “I need an oxygen tank!!” Or, “I’ll slash my wrist first, then get back to you on that requirement.” Or, when deadline looms, we’d even manage to tickle the art director “for extra challenge”.

We survived last week alright. In fact, there was even one night, before we head home, when we were even able to squeeze in time to pick someone’s new Facebook profile or do vanity shots for Fancy Pants. You know, priorities, priorities.

My polka dotted dress which I thought was the perfect wear for last week's frenzy came from Indie's House. 

For more fancy pants posts, check out Kymmie's lovely blog.

July 9, 2011

I Love You, Sabado

Today, I am hopping on the delightfully de-stressing linky of  Maxabella for some introspection.

I am grateful this Saturday for three things.

1. Staying in Shape

We have a very small team. So if there’s only one person out on vacation, and more so if one gets sick (because that is unplanned and unexpected), you can really feel its effect on the entire team.

This week, one is sick because of dengue, one because of flu, two because of LBM, and another one because of severe stomach pain.

I remain standing.

2. A Flood, No, An Avalanche of Work

We are just so swamped that the joke in the office is for us to invest in oxygen tanks. We’re so tired we’re literally running out of air. The workload is unusually heavy as it is, and amidst people getting sick in the office, the situation in the office is just crazy.

But work is work. And in this country, when you are swamped, you are blessed.

3. Crazy People

It is so easy, and so tempting actually, to just throw a fit and be cranky this week. Instead, the energy in the office is high. And happy ;-D

Now, it is Saturday. There's still a lot of work to do through the weekend. But I am home with my husband and my daughters, and I am grateful.

July 7, 2011

Let's Do The Zumba

I have always been a sloth. I’d like to think I was born that way. But once in a while, I am shaken into a painful realization that I have been born a human being who needs a good exercise to keep both mind and body functioning well. When that happens, I sometimes do the extreme thing, as human beings are wont to do, and enroll in a gym.

It didn’t turn out to be an inspired decision. The first time I did that, I managed to go to the gym around 8 times in a year. Several years later, I enrolled again, thinking that I would have learned from past mistakes. Well, I was terribly wrong. I went approximately 5 times. I was getting better and better at wasting money.

Recently, the fitness bug hit me again. This time, I did what I thought was an intelligent decision and just walked around the village. But after a while, I got tired and bored with it so I regressed to being a sloth again! I thought I was doomed to a life of inertia.

Then I discovered Zumba. What I like about it is that you only have to do it 30 minutes per session. It is a dance routine which can be done at home. I have so far done 4-5 sessions and from the looks of it, my success rate (at compliance) is going to be better with Zumba versus the village walking and the gym.

If you want to try, I’m sharing here some of the videos I got from youtube.

I usually start with this video, which is like a warm-up to the dance.

Then I do this. This is my most favorite routine of all because it is the easiest to do.

This video follows. This is a little difficult than the first but I somehow manage to do all the steps right.

Then I end with this video. This is super duper hard-core Zumba. I don’t get to follow all the steps but I try to do it anyway just to get a good cardio workout.

So there. If you are one of those girls who find it hard to move your butt for exercise, this might just be the right one for you. 

July 5, 2011

Mane Attraction

More on my niece’s (Andee’s) Tangled-themed party. My girls, Unna and Laila had a grand time. But their most favorite part was the salon time for little girls. Even I wanted to have my hair done.

We had so much fun at the party we forgot to take pictures. That's why we had to take photos as shown in the post below and in these before and after shots. My girls felt like princesses for a day but I'm sure they will remember this forever.

July 3, 2011

“The Best Day Of My Life”

Today we went to my niece’s 7th birthday party. My girls enjoyed it so much they said that today is the best day ever. They say that all the time. When we watch a movie, when we go swimming, when we’re on a vacation, when we simply spend family time even at home. They always gush, “It’s the best day of my life!”

It makes me think that us, oldies, treat the word “best” with so much reverence and also with so much fear and trepidation that we refuse to use it unless we have proof that it is indeed so. But my girls….they automatically use it when they feel happy.

Today is one of those days. Ahhh…the best day ever. And I can only smile in agreement.