Friday, September 29, 2017

9:04 a.m.
It feels like the flu is coming back; I did dine out with friends for two straight days instead of resting home from work for a full recovery. Last night, I was with Pam at Ronin 10 because I wanted to apologize for not having made it to her cousin’s wake. I read her beautiful eulogy on Facebook and she told me that during the service, she was amazed by how El had made everyone feel so special.

I thought, how inspiring, to affect many people in profound ways you will probably never understand yourself. I was reminded again of what Maya Angelou told Oprah that one’s legacy is “every life (she) touched.”


Thursday, September 28, 2017

1:34 p.m.
A colleague leaned her back to the wall not seeing that there was a hand sanitizer dispenser, so the gooey gel slid across her back. One of the young ones here recounted that she had a similar experience except that the gel oozed on her hair. “Parang yung sa There’s Something About Mary,” I quipped, recounting what is probably one of the most famous movie scenes of all time, hello.

Old movie po ba yun?


Walang respeto sa second-gen Charlie’s Angel!” I messaged another colleague within the same age bracket as me.

I plopped down in front of my computer and searched for the release date of the movie: 1998. Twenty. Years. Pwede naman na nga gawan ng oral history ng Variety or Vanity Fair.

3:30 p.m.
Had a huge scare when Ma hasn’t responded to my text since this morning; Pa didn’t respond either shortly after lunch; and both weren’t answering my barrage of calls an hour later. Ma eventually picked up Ate’s call while I was already typing an email to my boss saying I’m ringing out early to check on them. Hay. It turned out Ma had Pa’s phone, left both their cellphones in the bedroom while she was at the rooftop tending to her garden. I would have been annoyed, but I was just extremely thankful there was nothing to the inadvertent snub.

3:34 pm.
Met up with Mitzi last night after a long, long time. I have been extremely busy in between work and the gym so last night, I thought, I might as well make the rest of the week gym-free so I invited her out. (And tonight, I’ll be meeting up with Pam; again, hurrah to gym-free weeks!)  We talked about our respective relationships, plus her single friends’ feedback on Tinder: apparently, the dating pool has gotten even worse. For girl friends who travel out of the country, they couldn’t stop raving about the extremely good-looking guys who stop short of worshiping the ground they walk on; my friends say they make them feel like goddesses. Here, the guys on Tinder look like orcs.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

 10:35 a.m.
I’m finally done with the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. The novels by Kevin Kwan had never been in my radar until Kris Aquino, the ultimate #influencer, was chosen to make a cameo in the movie. The third installment, Rich People Problems, may be the best of the lot—I like that it has the right balance between entertainment and earnestness as it touches on issues such as gentrification and heritage conservation. There are, again, the outrageous devices (yes, plastic surgery on arowanas is real) but this time, they interlace better with the meatier plot. (My criticism with the second book was that it felt like a roll call of designer names, brands, and not much else.)

And I want to go to Palawaaaan!

1:52 p.m.
As far as I can remember, Cambodia has always been a war-torn country, so it was an educational experience watching First They Killed My Father (available on Netflix). The first few minutes of the film indicted the US for its role in exacerbating a brewing civil war (though additional reading is still required) and smartly established how Phnom Penh, at least, enjoyed relative economic comfort through the eyes on one family. Then one day, on April 17, 1975 to be exact, the Khmer Rouge seized the capital and forced everyone to relocate to the countryside to grow rice, fruits, and vegetables—if they were lucky. Those who survived the journey and starvation were either shot dead or forced to become soldiers as the communist regime tried to keep the Vietnamese at bay.  The film is based on the novel by Loung Ung, who recounted her harrowing experience as the five-year-old who experienced all these with her family of seven.

2:10 p.m.
I asked C and J of their plans in case we get retrenched. (This is a common topic throughout the years.) C said she would prefer to work from home; J would take some time off. I haven’t made any concrete plans, aside from the general idea of freelancing, working from home, or setting up my own business. For the latter, I don’t have the slightest idea which business to go into; it’s all that vague to me.

I am currently reading Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman, which I learned about because of a film version which has been well-received in Sundance and which is scheduled for release in November. I am loving the book so far—the writing is poetic yet unpretentious, and I’m easily transported to a time when a brush on the skin with someone I’m in love with would send shudders down my spine and ignite “disturbing pleasures.” My first kiss was nothing close to electrifying, but it was the first time I held hands with a guy that stirred and awakened the boy in me. I am excited to see the film; it’s directed by Luca Guadagnino, who makes the most beautiful and elegant films, such as I am Love and A Bigger Splash. And based on the few pages I’ve read, the beautiful Armie Hammer is perfect for the role of Oliver.

Call Me by Your Name - Still 2

It’s the billowy blue shirt as described in the book! Oh, Armie 😍😍😍


Monday, September 25, 2017

9:51 a.m.
Presently an incubus of viral plague

Woke up to a flu yesterday, although I’ve had the sniffles since Saturday lunch. Couldn’t skip work today because there are a lot of things I need to do, plus I might have to leave next week to run errands and to celebrate my birthday with P—that is if I can finalize by next week a major report I need to submit to the CEO by mid-October. So basically, I lot of things are still up in the air as far as my birthday plans are concerned. (Right now, I’m wearing a thick sweater over a button-shirt and an undershirt and I still feel cold.)

I am turning 37 in two weeks, when in fact, I’ve been mindlessly saying I’m 37 for the past 6-8 months; I suppose it’s my subconscious getting a head start. After P’s birthday, I teased him that we are finally only 11 years apart, but we are highly aware that that won’t be for long, not that either of us minds it.

I always get the birthday blues, but in the past two years, I’d like to think my birthday is no longer as much as a big deal to me than it had been. Everyone ages. I had recently watched two Princess Diana documentaries and her age at the time of her death wasn’t lost on me: 36.


10:55 a.m.
P has been bugging to tell him what I want for my birthday 😜. I seriously don’t need anything.  I mean, I want a Barton camera leather strap and I have a lot in my Mr. Porter wishlist, but seriously, nothing that I would want him to buy for me 😇.

The Whip in action. #barton1972 #komarusoftshutterrelease #softshutterrelease #leicamm

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The Plaza Hotel

During our January trip to Bataan, we decided that if we were coming back, then we had to stay at The Plaza Hotel. It’s in the provincial capital and is one of the four main buildings surrounding the town plaza: the 18th-century Balanga Cathedral, the municipal building, and a mall (which say a lot about our priorities in this country, haha). So when P decided he wanted to return to the province for his birthday weekend, I arranged our stay at this hotel.

The hotel’s façade, heavily documented on Instagram, is impressive. Despite the three centuries of Spanish rule, we have little to show for colonial architecture, so exteriors like this are a novelty. At night, the view is even more stunning, especially in a city that seems asleep by 10 p.m. However, I also recognize how incongruous the design is, not only after having had a feel of its surroundings but also after having entered its doors. For example: how come such a majestic-looking building does not have parking facilities for its guests? And why is it that the window of the executive room looks out into the hotel staircase? There are also signs of wear and tear throughout the building—all easily dismissible—but given the ostentatious facade, expectations run high until charity sets in, and so, they are lowered.

Where it has a lot of class though is in its service. Check-in was breezy and prompt, with a professional and smart-looking front desk that moved like clockwork. Every request we made at the front desk was delivered within 5-10 minutes of our call. The room was simple and elegant: I liked the muted colors and soft lighting, plus it smelled great. There were enough electrical plugs—five if you exclude those taken up by the lamps—because I find that power sources are becoming a scarce commodity in hotels lately. Air conditioning was strong and the free WiFi was fast (I wish we brought our laptops so we could have binged on Netflix), but what I couldn’t stop raving about was the cable TV—I’ve never seen channels that crisp and sharp.

Most importantly, the bed was comfortable and the pillows were some of the best I’ve ever laid my head on; the top sheet and duvet were both tucked tightly under both end corners so they stayed in place until the next morning. I wish we could have stayed in all day!

The free breakfast meal was at Plaza Brew, a trendy and well-designed coffee shop on the ground floor that seemed serious with its craft and which wouldn’t be out of place in Katipunan. We wanted to try the well-reviewed Café Kyoto on the third floor, but it was literally a hallway with tables and chairs as it shared what is already a small space with the hotel’s reception floor.

Overall, it’s a charming, friendly, and graceful hotel that would have been easily outsized by the grand spectacle that is its façade if it didn’t turn out to be smoke and mirrors. Perhaps, there’s the silver lining and I would be glad to stay here again.

Tip: Go to the 6th floor to see a view of Balanga City. That’s the 18th century Balanga Cathedral in the center



Friday, September 22, 2017

10:46 a.m.

Five reps of five rounds
(every minute)
Strict press, 95lbs

Five rounds
(10min cap, additional 2mins)
25 box jumps, 24”
15 Russian KB swings, 20lbs

Three reps of five rounds
(every minute)
Negative pullups

Notes: I managed to do one 95lbs strict press and that’s it—so I scaled it down to 75lbs. (Based on my record, I previously did 65lbs only.) I did the recommended scale for the next workout and I managed to finish three rounds plus 10 box jumps. Please Lord, I deserve bigger legs. My arms were still sore for having worked out in the last three days, so I could only do one proper negative holdup, so I did a scapular pullup/hold for the rest.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

10:56 a.m.

(5 reps every 1:30 mins)

Three rounds
(8min cap)
30 ring rows
30 parallette dips
30 walking lunges

Notes: The 1:30 min time for the deadlifts was a huge help as I was able to recover just enough after every set. For the second workout, I was used as a model for the first time to demonstrate the movements, haha. The coach is new and I think he noticed that I was the only one who did the recommended weight for the deadlift (it was a smaller class than usual and most were newbies), so he must have assumed I’m a pro, haha. For the actual workout, I only managed to do one round, plus the 30 rows for last place in class; so much for being a model, lol. Afterward, said new coach demonstrated a massage technique using the PVC pipe (he said a bar is normally used). It’s similar to how a foam roller is used, except in this case, a partner rolls the bar over your muscle (in our case, the front thighs and our triceps). Coach himself demoed it on me—it was absoultely painful, I had tears in my eyes. I actually begged him to stop but he was so ruthless that he didn’t back down, haha. He did it thrice on each of the body part; he particularly remarked on how tight my triceps were: the exact words were matigas and masikip, lol. He said I should do more stretches before and after every workout. Also, it’s been so long since I got a massage!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

10:50 p.m.
Spotted: this is how horribly thin my legs look:


So. Patayan yung workout kanina:

10 intervals
(2 mins workout, 1 min rest)
5 box jump overs, 24”
25 double-unders
Wall balls, 20lbs

*Repeat until 200 wall balls (!!!) are accumulated

Notes: I made it to 170. My shoulders, butt, and calves hurt. Legs, come through!!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

9:53 p.m.
I took antihistamine in the morning by mistake so I was extremely groggy by evening: while walking to the gym, I had fantasies of laying down the gym floor and just… sleeping.

Warm up
2 laps normal run
1 lap backward run
1 lap shuffle run (facing track)
1 lap shuffle run (facing outward)
50m bear crawl
50m walking lunges
Mobility exercises
5 burpees

Partner workout
(12 min cap)
Partner 1 rows while partner 2 does single unders, switch every 250m

10 rounds
(10min cap)
5 strict pull ups
5 air squats
5 push ups
5 arch ups
5 sit ups

Notes: I wasn’t speaking to anyone after the warm up, haha. But one thing’s for sure—I was, by then, wide awake. For the row, I was averaging 1:50 per 500m and with Leonard as my partner, we finished 2,579m or good enough for second place in class. I didn’t get to count how many rounds I finished in the last set of workout—probably 6 or 7.

SCTEX views

Going to Bataan, the choice was between exiting San Fernando or pushing ahead SCTEX, bypassing a number of Pampanga towns and reaching Dinalupihan directly. We chose the latter, despite the 100-percent difference in the toll fee as we later found out. Five minutes in and we knew we made the right decision as the mountain range loomed like a desktop wallpaper that swept over everything that our eyes could see. I had been using my iPhone all that time, when P encouraged me to bring out my new camera, which I had shyly kept hidden in my bag. I missed that initial wallpaper view, but the rest still took our breath away.

All photos were processed using VCSO.