Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gratitude List: An Ode to Girlfriends and Lifelong Friendships

If there's one aspect of life where I really got lucky, that would be finding the right set of girlfriends. Right, meaning people who are true to you and to themselves. Right, meaning give it a hundred years apart and you'll still hug and talk to each other as if you're together the previous day. Right, meaning sharing your innermost thoughts and secrets is nothing out of the usual. Right, meaning you still get into cat fights with each other, and snob each other for weeks then just laugh about it after. Right, meaning time and physical presence are just  icing on the cake - you feel their warmth within you. And right, meaning no matter how bad I screw up in life, I can dial a number, and someone will pick me up from the dump and won't even try to interrogate.

For a young woman like me, having not just one, but seven best girlfriends, is as good as having all the gems in the world. I'd like the world to meet my Gamma girls. :)

Circa Kadiri!!! :)

Circa 2006 at Munting Buhangin Beach, Batangas
Circa 2009 at View Park Hotel, Tagaytay City

Circa 2011 at Bellevue Hotel, Alabang
We decided to have an extra special Christmas Party since our sister Chai (second from left) went home from Australia to join us. :)

Crush ng Bayan. Certified Public Accountant. Pink Addict.

With her beauty and brains, no wonder she's the Beauty Queen of the group. Despite this, Yhel is very humble and down to earth, and most of all, this girl is super duper sweet! As in sakit sa ngipin (toothache) sweet! We used to join modeling gigs back in High School. Yes, payat pako nun! :)

Funny Meter: She thinks that cute polka dots bags and pink ribbons suits her, feeling petite! :)

Ms. Positivity. First Class Banker. Most Number of Dimples Title Holder. 

I've known Chai since first grade, our dads worked in the same company, and we used to live in the same street. We're practically friends for two decades! She's the cheerful lady of the group, never bragged about what she has or achieved, and one of the most sincere  and happy person I know. I personally admire her energy and spirit. She was the Captain Ball of the Volleyball Varsity Team, too. In short, beware of her spikes.

Funny Meter: She's so full of positivity to the point of thinking that dirty old men only want her friendship!! 

Gamma's Official Photographer. Digital Artist & I.T. Specialist. Hip Hop Queen
Karen is my High School Best Friend. This girl is so energetic, you'll find a hard time booking a date with her. She's very active in serving the church, doing photography gigs and is always hungry to learn new things. One of the most creative people I know, and a talented dancer, too!

Funny Meter: She thinks car dashboards can electrocute her to death!

Ms. Organized. Interior Designer. Super Romantic Girl.

She's my best buddy in first grade. She's a very talented interior designer, and we all commissioned her to build our future dream houses, for free. LOL. If your place and life is a mess, Cath is the perfect person to bug. She'll help you tidy up your room, declutter your things, arrange your computer files and listen to your life stories, raves and rants too. She's the best friend any girl or boy would love to have!

Funny Meter: Cath and her boyfriend, H, kept their feelings for each other for at least 12 years!!! Kaloka! (crazy)

Prim & Proper. I.T. Boss. Sleepyhead.
Among us, Libay is the only one who's soft spoken. She's very mahinhin and full of grace. A hardworking girl who has a serious love affair with her bed and pillows. When you want some goodness, peace and quiet, I can give you her address. 
PS: She has a doppleganger by the name of Angelu de Leon! :)

Funny Meter: She throws tantrums when not able to get a power nap during lunch breaks. 

Mommy. Banking Manager. Madam Bola Wannabe
She's the first one to get married and have babies (2 beautiful girls!) among the group. She married her High School sweetheart, who also happened to be my classmate and good pal. A dedicated wife and mom, you'll have no clue that she used to the group's Bratinella. Tethas also has this weird beliefs with anything superstitious.

Funny Meter: She decides on most things based on the stars, zodiac signs and feng shui . That includes when to get a hair cut.

The Writer. Digital Marketing Guru. Wild Girl. 
Obviously, she's my BFF! We're classmates from High School 'til College, and we've been inseparable ever since. Tara is my partner in crime, and I'd like to believe that I'm also hers. (except when I'm slaving on my job!) We have this weird connection and incredible chemistry, that we can be so opposite on some things (she's sweet & sexy, I'm tough and bossy) yet get along with each other so well on other things (we both work in the Communication Industry, both vain, both book/movie buffs and we both love traveling) We also have the power to sense our feelings from just a phone call or text.

Funny Meter: She's funny when she's drunk. And we once had a fight which lasted for three months. Whenever we see each other on the campus's catwalk, we made it seem like a scene from Mara Clara, except that we're both Claras! LOL. 

ME!  ME! ME! 
Nothing, gusto ko lang ju-moin. Blog ko 'to, diba?? :D
(just want to join, this is my blog after all, right?)

Forgive me for being so obviously proud of my girls! Because I really am. I'm happy that they are all doing what they love best, and that they excel in their chosen fields! Aside from that, I'm happy to see them loved, content, fulfilled and successful. :) 

I have more sets of amazing friends from blogging, from past offices and my current company. I also have a great set of cousins whom I considered siblings from different parents. If I ever have the chance to work from home again, I would love to introduce them to you, as well. 

To my Gamma Girls: I know I'm missing a lot of get together, dinners and dates lately. I'm in the middle of something big and tedious at work, and so I know by heart that you're supporting me 200%! Will try to make it up to you! :)

 From the Nook, 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscar's: Always a Sight to Behold!

The Academy Awards is one of the most prominent award ceremonies in the world. Though there are several types of awards presented by the Academy, the best known is the Academy Award of Merit more popularly known as the Oscar's

The recently concluded 84th Academy Awards didn't disappoint nor failed to stop the clock of more than 100 nations where it was televised live. Why not? This is one of the few events where you'll see the brightest movie actors and actresses pooled together and looking even better that their usual gorgeous selves. (I wonder what skin treatment they do before walking the carpet, they are GLOWING!) Philippines is no different. Ours is a nation where fans will join a riot and catch a grenade for their idols. Since we're also the Social Networking capital of the world, the Oscar's has been trending since this morning, and I'm sure you'll agree that the red carpet winner is not a person but a pair of legs that is only Angie's!

For the fun of it, here's the list of actresses who blew my mind with their grace, swagger and fashion statements. I'm sure each one of us is rooting for our own muses! :)

Angelina Jolie in her signature puckers, overly sexy mane and legs that goes forever and ever

Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen. I love the details of her gown! So intricate. :)

Milla Jovovich. One of the few Femme Fatale who can still look immaculate in a white ensemble. I wonder if she can still knockout zombies wearing this?

She's my usual suspect. Sandra Bullock is just sophisticated.

I fell in love with her both as Lisbeth, and as Rooney.
Who impressed you the most on the red carpet? Spill! :)

To see the complete list of nominees and winners, strike a Hollywood pose and click HERE.

From the Nook, 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Say Ola! to Sun Life’s Shine Big in Barcelona contest

Traveling to Spain is a dream for many, myself included. In fact, I started self studying Spanish a few weeks ago with the help of this little Larousse traveling guide book. (Is this a sign?!) Thanks to Sun Life Financial Philippines, fulfilling our dream to see Spain can be a step closer, all while getting a stab at reaching a bigger and brighter career as a Sun Life Financial advisor.

From our friends in SLFP: 

Learn how to tango. Unearth the secrets to a mouth-watering paella. Marvel at the beauty and magnificence of La Sagrada Familia. This year, Sun Life Financial-Philippines (SLFP) brings together the alluring Catalan culture and the rewarding career of a financial advisor through its “Shine Big in Barcelona” promo. 

Shine Big in Barcelona is a digital contest that one may win via Sun Life’s official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sunlifeph). Simply refer five friends whom you think may be interested in a career with Sun Life, their valid email addresses to earn one raffle entry. The contest runs until March 30, 2012.

The annual Shine Big campaign wants to bring the benefits and opportunities of being a Sun Life financial advisor closer to Filipinos. 

Head over now to Sun Life's official Facebook page to access the embedded form and start referring today; or who knows, you can be the next top Sun Life Financial advisor. The possibilities are endless because true to their promise, life is brighter under the sun!

Perdón y la buena suerte, amigos! :)

From the Nook, 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Te amo támbien mi señora bonita!

Photo by my cousin Ryan Fajardo for wifey, Bing. :)

Te amo támbien mi señora bonita!

Jeff and I probably won't be able to dine out or celebrate this Valentine's, but that's fine really. I don't mean to be a kill joy, but we normally skip the chaos and heavy traffic, and we're not a big fan of the crowd either. I asked him also not to give me flowers anymore, because we're saving up for something else. Do you think I'm a scrooge? Of course not! Because I believe in love and its unbelievable power, and that it's a natural force human beings are not supposed to own and limit, but rather share and imbibe, every day of their lives. And I live on this terms; while the flowers, fancy dining and little kisses from people I love are but big bonuses. :)

I'm sick this morning, and just came back from a long planning session with my client, but I'm feeling positive and overwhelmed with funny feelings and happy thoughts of spending the V-Day night in the comfort of my home and loved ones, and I hope to transfer this energy to all of you.

So instead of a usual V-Day greeting, let me wish you a happy and colorful life full of love for yourself, your family, your friends, your pets, and significant others today and always! There's so much to love in life, so let's celebrate everything, big or small! 

PS: The title came from my Sweetie, who surprised me with his attempt in Spanish. He knows I'm self-studying, and cute of him to remember. 

Muy bien! Te quiero, chico malo! :) 

PPS: Shout out to my good friend, J, for her thoughtful gift! She's so sweet and she reminds me how bad I am with these things! Love yah, Jelly Bean! :) 

I thought for a second it's candy

From the Nook,  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Gratitude List: On Confusion and Personal Missions


There are moments when my mind just want to vomit thoughts so bad that my hands have no choice but to write type endlessly, and claim the moment. Earlier today, a good friend confessed to me that he thinks he wants to quit his job, but doesn't really know what to do next, worse, what he really wants to do next. I laughed and told him that he better ask someone else, because for one, I'm such an evil and supportive friend that the next things I'll say will probably be "fudge, just go for it." Not that I find anything wrong with following one's heart. In fact I'm a staunch believer of following your heart's desire, because it will, in all the madness of the Universe and God's mercy, will lead you to where you're really meant to be, so jump! But that's me. My alias doesn't stand for nothing, so it may not be the best advice for him to hear that moment. Second, I begged him not to ask me because though I'm not as lost as him during our short cab ride conversation, I'm also not in the best position to tell him what he's supposed to do, only because I'm also in the middle of my own, personal journey.

As much as I'm happy, challenged and fulfilled with what I do and where I am at present, it's too early to tell if this is what I really want to do for the rest of my life. That to me, is more of a calling, a spot in this world that is only yours to discover and claim. I like to think of it as my mission. The reason I was born, and the role I'm destined to fulfill. Spiritually, it's one's life purpose. 

I'm in no hurry to discover my master plan, I don't like to peek on God's 201 file. What I know right now, aside from the things and comfort that I want for my family and self (of course I still think of worldly things) is that I may be a source of joy for other people, every living day. Be it joy from financial help I can offer, joy from inspiration and energy I bequeath or joy from being able to make someone laugh during a hard day. 

For now, that mission is good enough to keep me going. :) 

Have a blessed Friday, guys! On a personal note, it's my Sweetie's birthday tomorrow, another reason to be grateful!

Much Love,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Men Who Hate Women: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Movie

Men Who Hate Women, is the original title of this novel by Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson.The first of three-part series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the story of Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist forced to take a leave of absence from his job after losing a libel case versus a crooked CEO and billionaire. He is then hired by a retired industrialist, Henrik Vanger, to investigate the disappearance of his 16-year old grand-niece forty years before. He works with the sallow and complex girl, Lisbeth Salander, who, despite her history of being socially incapable, is a brilliant researcher and computer genious.Together, they solved the mystery and unearth the Vanger family's unbelievable dark side.

Call me a fan girl, but that's what I really am. My involvement with the story started the moment I picked up the book (which originally is a gift for my sister-in-law). I finished the book in four days, and went on to devour the second one, The Girl Who Played with Fire. I'm halfway to finish the third installment, so I'm shutting up at this point. :)

The hype caused by the cold and bizarre trailer of the movie, and the powerful cast lead by Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara is justified by the beautiful mystery and fear that decked the halls of the cinemas. The characters are perfect, and it's a treat to see one of the most notable books I've read come to life. The old cottages and the wicked snow storms of Sweden painted the background of the perfect thriller movie, and for that alone, I put Sweden on my bucket list. 

Craig, as expected, performed solid as a Mikael, but Mara is exceptionally brilliant and a revelation. Her lack of expression perfectly suited the troubled Lisbeth. Obviously, fans anticipated the Lisbeth in flesh, and Mara gave her more than justice. She made her tangible, immortal, to the fans. I heard Scarlett Johansson auditioned for this role, but as much as I love her, her curves will kill the character! 

158 minutes is quite long, but I didn't bother to check my watch from start to finish. There were moments when I had to contain myself from the graphics and highly sensitive scenes, which brought back the emotions I originally felt when I read the book. The rape and vengeance scenes are unforgettable and to some, may be too much to see on screen. But if you're a geek like me and read Larsson's inspirations on writing this, you'll understand how he'd come to depict it in such painful details. This film is carefully made and well-thought of, and IMO, one of the best movie adaptations to ever grace us. 

If you read the book, I'm quite sure you'll watch it, if you haven't done so. If not, brace yourself for the deep chill that will cloak you. I've warned you, it's not for the faint-hearted.

PS: Don't ever, ever, ever, try to watch it on DVD. Save yourself some disappointment. It's a must to see this on big screen.

PPS: Not for the kids, not even 17-year old, with or without parents! 

Must. See.

The scene that made me churn a bitter laugh

Now, can someone lend me the Swedish version, pretty please? I'm serious, message me! :)

From the Nook, 

Friday, February 3, 2012

2012 Starter: Roadtrip and Stories from Potipot, Zambales

It's Friday and all I think about right now is weekend and my date with Lisbeth Salander. This week has been hellish challenging, that my stress-induced pimples refuse to budge with any spot correcting gel. My mom thinks I'm on graveyard shift and the boyfie said my temper tripled, bordering on bipolar. I find it amusing because I'm actually clueless that I'm stressed not until my boss and good friend tapped my shoulder and said "Get some air, and parang habag, get something to eat." So I got up and got a rice bowl from the convenient store, and happily ate my first meal of the day at 7:00 PM. You see, our team was recently assigned additional roles, and surprise, multimillion-peso challenges. But I refuse to take it negatively, and rather treat this as a vouch of confidence on my talent and hard work instead. In times like this, flattery can help you survive. ;) And since this is a personal blog, I'm free to bore you with my stories so thank you're still reading this part!

Moving on, I'm finally sharing my recent getaway with my colleagues and friends that literally changed my view on road trips. Flying can definitely buy you more hours on the beach but 7-hour drives can do more for the friendship. My first assignment for 2012 is to plan a team getaway, to take advantage of the long weekend in January. Since three days is too short to fly to some faraway land, we decided to head North and go to what they call the poor man's Boracay, Potipot Island in Candelaria, Zambales

Let my photocaps do the storytelling. 

Make sure to have a reliable and comfortable vehicle to make sure you have a pleasant and hassle-free road trip. We hired this macho, audio-loaded van with our ever dependable driver, kuya Ramil.
Stop over at Xtremely Expresso in Subic for a quick lunch. Unfortunately, their famous giant pizza is not available! Boo!
But we pigged out, anyway. :)
All relaxed and beach ready!
Another stopover at PureGold Duty Free to hoard food and what else? Alcohol! Smirnoff is only Php 300/1 liter! In the photo are my super cute buddies Pia and Nina, arguing who's taller than the other! Ahem. :)
After seven hours, we finally reached the shores of Candelaria, Zambales. Sunbloom Resort is rustic yet clean enough and the staff treated us like family. We brought raw meat and veggies and they cooked them for us for a minimal fee, and boy they are such good cooks!
We arrived at around 4:00 PM, and nothing can stop us from reaching Potipot island even though the boats can only transport people 'til 6:00 PM. In short, we chased the sun (or whatever's left) on the first day! Potipot island is just minutes away from Candelaria beach; upper right portion of this photo. 

I'm almost there!
First sight and I knew seven hours on the road is well worth it!
No more sun, but all good!
We woke up very early the next day to get as much sun as we can. My friend on the left, Jelly, is a closet albino, she never gets dark! Peace, Jell! :)
We bribed the bangkero to bring us to the most secluded part of the island and used the handicapped excuse (my boss, K, has a cast on her left foot) to dock on the normally restricted area. The beach photos will tell you why we took all the trouble!
I used a normal point-and-shoot camera, with no Photoshop help, whatsoever. Amazing, isn't it?
Peace and quiet at long last
Should it be called "Poor man's Boracay"? I think NOT!
The beach essentials
Party favors. Please don't judge us.
The Wicked Gang with Jim Beam and Malibu!

Sexy cat, Nina

Obligatory solo shots ;P

The bangka picked us up just in time to watch the most beautiful sunset!

I hope you didn't get tired of the photos, I actually stopped myself from posting more. If you want to read my nuggets of wisdom from the trip, you may click HERE

I also suggest you visit pretty Potipot, it's fun especially for a big group. You can do camping but no electricity or amenities in the island other than a common toilet, so be ready. The whole trip cost me Php 5,000 inclusive of transportation, accommodation and really generous meals! The DutyFree shopping on the other hand, is a different story.:)

Van rental = 13,000 (drop off/pickup for 9-seater van)
Room = 1,200/2 pax 
Bangka = 400/2-way, good for 6-7 pax
Entrance Fee to the island = 100

'Til my next beach getaway! :)

From the Nook,