PINK HEART

The Darling Man returned from an overseas business trip and brought home the following surprise for me: a sweet little Swarovski rose pink heart on a cord. It was presented to me over merienda in a dark blue box complete with a warranty card. I was speechless. Pleased. And touched.

TDM knows I don’t wear a lot of bling, mostly character pieces or family heirlooms. This was perfect, because I could wear it every day if I chose. I honestly thought he would choose a memory card or some useful usb tech gadget, since he knows that I usually travel like some techie girl scout with a little pack of peripherals along with an ASUS eee in my handbag. This choice of gift makes me glad he thinks of me beyond my geekiness, in a most tender way.

Thank you, sweetie.

LILO AT THE LITTLE GYM

Lilo in Little Gym

Joy and Tristan have been taking 2.5yo Lilo to The Little Gym in El Pueblo for the last two terms. They go for an hour every Tuesday morning, after which she takes her nap and later on, a late lunch.

Last Tuesday was Open House day, and this time they asked me to attend, in order to take pictures. Since Joy is usually behind the camera, she realized one day that she didn’t have many photos with Lilo! Also, the night before, Teacher Clara called to ask permission for Lilo to be filmed by Jessica Soho’s GMA crew, along with other select students. Lilo had bloomed so much in terms of strength, agility, confidence and social skills that she seemed like an ideal subject. She’s also quite photogenic, attractive in a sporty, anti-Barbie way. Hands-down cute.

The GMA crew took shots of the children together with Teacher Maan, playing at each featured piece of equipment. Later on they interviewed Joy, asking why she enrolled Lilo in Little Gym. Joy mentioned something about wanting to develop her physical strength and dexterity along with social interaction skills. Tristan and his parents Tita Tess and Tito Ted were watching proudly from a distance.

They showed the segment in Jessica Soho’s 9pm show the following Saturday, April 19. The whole show was about health and fitness in summer activities for Pinoys of all ages. Lilo was in most of the shots, in her white halter top, funky black shorts and “Disney Boo” hairdo (two little fountains on either side of her head). Joy was laughing, “Did you see my sweaty mommy face on tv?” I assured her that sweaty mommy mode is normal, particularly if the yaya is on vacation. Ninang Almond promised to ask a friend to get us a digital copy of the show.

DIVISORIA HAUL

I hadn’t been to Divisoria since Tim’s wedding, but this latest trip was worth it. Joy and I have been in a needlecraft frenzy, she with crochet and I with knitting. We left the van at 168 Mall, and walked to Ilaya and Tabora Streets.

Along Ilaya we found:

plain white 100% cotton tank tops (PhP50 @ for kids, PhP60 @ for adult sizes)

plain white 100% cotton nightgowns trimmed with eyelet lace (PhP100 @)

children’s lycra swimsuits (PhP70 @)

At Yangco Market Pasilio P/Q leading from Ilaya to Tabora, we found:

daddy boxer shorts (PhP120 @ short/PhP140 @ puruntong)

children’s lycra bikini (PhP100 @)

And at Wellmanson’s Tabora (distributor of Familia) we found:

sale yarns (P30 per 10-skein pack! 3ply!)

tapestry needles, buttons, clear elastic line, other sewing notions

At Everson Tabora we found:

made in China nickel-coated aluminum 14″ knitting needles from size 3.0mm, 4.0mm, 5.0mm & 6.0mm (average price of PhP35/pair)

set of four 9″ double pointed knitting needles, size 2.5mm/UK size 13 (PhP28 )

At Skylab Commercial Tabora (distributor of J. P. Coats) we found:

Monaco/Cannon mercerized cotton, 175m balls (PhP19.50 @ dark colors / PhP18.50 @ light colors)

assorted birthday cake figurines (Disney princesses, Barney)

At 168 Mall we found:

garterized knee protectors (PhP60/pair)

clip on led light powered by 4 watch batteries (P70@)

printed purses (4 for PhP100)

printed shoulderbag with matching purse (PhP250@)

smaller printed handbag (PhP150@)

leather calling card case with foldout cover (PhP80@)

It was fun. Next time I’ll look for baby clothes for my godson Inigo, who is grower faster than we all realize.

I’ve started on the coral pink mercerized cotton, and have knitted the front and back bodice of a toddler blouse for Lilo.

DURAN DURAN IN MANILA

duran stage blue

It was a trying weekend, and an even more trying Thursday. I was so busy dealing with the heinousness of a childhood friend’s behavior towards me that I totally did not realize Duran Duran was in town. Righteous anger + tears + miserable summer heat = headache and lost productivity. Surely nothing could be so bad, you say? It was THAT bad.

“Hey, guess what,” Jopet says, calling from his cellphone. “I’m here in Megamall, in line for tickets to the Duran Duran concert.” There’s a Duran Duran concert? How come I never heard or read about it? I, who at 18 actually became a bonafide member of the official Duran Duran fan club in Birmingham during their World Domination Tour (thanks, Ninong R)! Who had all the records, posters, shirts, pins, and whatnot? I felt middle-aged. I closed my eyes and wanted to cry, but nothing came. “Jopet,” I said in this teeny voice, “I’d love to go, but I’m tired and emotionally drained and I don’t have any cash on hand.” At this point I had to tell him all I went through. “But you fixed it, right? You got an apology, right? So you won, it’s all over, and now you have to celebrate. I’ll call you when I’ve got the tickets.”

For the next 5 minutes I was in shock. Each ticket for the upper box at Araneta Coliseum cost PhP 2100 (reserved seating). Next thing I knew, I showered and dressed and met Jopet at Shangrila mall. He was right, I was victorious, and I was in a mood to celebrate. Life is too short to worry about all the details. We met Ryan at Cibo for dinner. I had the most wonderful sandwich, mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with garlic and herbs on grilled country bread. Nothing like food and friendship to restore you to your senses.

duran stage black

Once in our seats, we wondered how the producers were going to fill the venue. There was barely any advertising. No billboards, no fancy lifestyle articles. No product sponsors. Just MTV Philippines and Araneta Center. The seats filled slowly but steadily. The tickets said 830pm but the program actually started at 9. Still, we were in a mood to enjoy. Sandwich was the opening act. Sandwich! With Myrene Academia playing bass! When we were in college Myrene and I were Durannies together. What a dream come true for her to be sharing the same stage as the band, and to be playing bass because she was inspired by John Taylor.

The set was quite simple. A cityscape background and the instruments on elevated platforms. Lighting was quite good, though. Simple, but effective. When the band finally came out it was to loud cheering. Earlier we scanned the audience and found them to be of our generation – ’80s kids – with their children! People brought out their point-and-shoots, taking pix and videos. The pics here were taken with my Asus V80 phone (whose camera I find superior to that of the Nokia 6120).

This time there were only four of the original Fab Five. Apparently, they no longer have a comfortable working relationship with Andy Taylor. They got a new lead guitarist, Dominic Brown, whom I must say was quite good. Simon Le Bon looked slimmer than he was in their heyday, dressed in a grey suit. Those narrow suits are back, just less shiny. The amazing thing was that his voice did NOT change. He still hit his high notes! Nick Rhodes John Taylor was still the prettiest. And from where I sat I noticed John still liked to tie kerchiefs to his sleeve. From his synth platform Nick Rhodes looked like an imperious Andy Warhol, hair and all, only he smiled more.

And Roger Taylor. I was so in love with Roger then. He was such a talented drummer, and I’m pleased to say, despite the long performance hiatus, he still is. I read some time earlier (just before Astronaut was released) that he had suffered from exhaustion from all their touring and had a nervous breakdown at some point, and withdrew to his farm. I also heard his wife Giovanna divorced him recently. By chance, I saw them perform Reach Out For The Sunrise on Top of the Pops a year or so ago, and was shocked at how much the fatigue had aged him. He used to have really great ’50s Elvis Presley hair, and really sexy eyes (they all wore too much eyeliner in those days), and great-looking biceps. While he is no longer the pinup material he was then (his eyes are too sad now), I’m happy he got his mojo back.

The band interspersed new songs from their new album, Red Carpet Massacre, with old favorites: Hungry Like The Wolf, New Religion, Planet Earth, The Reflex, Wild Boys, Girls on Film, Ordinary World, Save A Prayer. If there were songs I forgot to mention, it’s probably because I was in a happy daze for most of the concert. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t perform Is There Something I Should Know. They saved Rio for their encore.

Red Carpet Massacre is better than their previous album, Astronaut. Duran Duran have (Brit grammar) returned to their dance music roots, for which I’m glad — there were several cuts from the album that felt like they had club remixes lined up for release. In one of his spiels Simon mentioned collaborating with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake (like many acts have done lately). Good move, boys! Nothing like keeping yourselves updated. Take your cue from Madonna.

ryan me & jopet

me & jopet

So we sang along, surprised that we still knew ALL the words. I discovered that Ryan was born just when Duran Duran were becoming famous, but there must be something universal about their dance groove, because Ryan thoroughly enjoyed himself. At one point we were standing and dancing for 5 songs straight! Simon’s energy was infectious. His armpits were stained with sweat. There were barely any intermissions. What rock stars! What rock stars.

It may have been somewhat cheesy to be waving my cellphone to Save A Prayer, but I was one with my generation — young enough to keep dancing, old enough to know when not to care, as long as I had fun. Afterwards we were so hungry we went straight to Italianni’s, shared 2 different pastas and a huged baked cheesecake.

By the end of that long, trying Thursday I had reclaimed my cheerful self. My balance.

(You are a lifesaver, Jopet!!! Thank you, bro. Your karaoke nights in Boracay are on me.)

PALE REMAKE: SHUTTER (2008)

Shutter (2008) courtesy of Imdb.com

Almond and I went to watch Shutter (2008 ) last Thursday night, at SM Megamall. She wanted to watch it because we’d seen the Thai original a couple of years earlier, which we loved because it scared the hell out of us.

The thing with Hollywood remakes of Asian horror is that more often than not the cultural elements that create the horror end up lost in translation. I personally feel that for a lot of mid-quality Hollywood horror movies, lead characters are generally written as two-dimensional. They have no foundation of faith, and are more swayed by superstition on the one end or skepticism on the other, which is why they tumble down the long road of suffering. Hollywood directors tend to focus more on the long road of suffering than on the inherent causes of it, because that seems to be what American audiences enjoy. There is this thrill they get from vicarious experience of other people’s suffering for as long as the only danger they are in is choking on their own popcorn. You can replace the actors in these movies any number of times and you’d still get stereotype victims. It’s as though Hollywood is unable to come up with original stuff, that they feel they have to translate Asian horror for the American audience. What they don’t get is, except for English subtitling, there is nothing they need to translate. Such is the case for Shutter (2004) .

There are no spoilers in this entry. I don’t believe in ruining it for innocent passersby, because they really should have their own opinion about a movie. I just observed the following differences in treatments of the material.

The Hollywood version has a Japanese director, presumably so the viewers don’t lose that essential Asian viewpoint. By changing the movie setting to “gaijins in Tokyo” mode (gaijin = “foreigner”, a Japanese term with shades of race discrimination used to refer to Caucasians, similar to the Cantonese word gweilo), the premise of horror is plausible, since most Western travellers are either delighted or repelled by the strangeness – or specifically, “other-ness” – of Japanese concepts. What the remake does is successfully trade on the cultural difference to create a mood of tragedy, deception, and injustice. There is resolution involving karmic balance, so the viewer is able to get a sense of relief that evil is not cyclical or self-perpetuating. The latter idea gets tiresome, but Hollywood likes to milk that concept in order to create sequels or series. If such franchises are not good enough to create their own cult following, all they are is visual junk food.

What backfired here is that many Americans commented on the imdb.com forums that the Japanese horror elements used in Shutter (2008 ) looked cribbed from Ringu (The Ring, 1998 ). I agree; in Hollywood there is no longer any novelty in seeing long-haired dead Asian girls creeping out of a television / photograph / cabinet / mirror / what-have-you. Although that is what I loved precisely about “Ringu” (original Japanese version always, please, but not its sequels). That image is so powerful and iconic I can’t bear to watch it again on my own. It gives me nightmares.

Hollywood, I feel, tends to film movies too brightly. They are too glossy and too high-contrast. They rely too much on surprise to elicit screams. They can’t put a finger exactly on what makes Asian horror, horror. In Hollywood, chainsaw massacres are human crimes whose negative energies resonate to the waking world, but in Asia, superstition about certain kinds of death creates horror. It’s like the stories your grandmother told you about the vengeful ghosts of innocent pregnant women murdered during World War II, when she was still a young girl in the countryside, things like that.

The Thai original of “Shutter” has a 1970’s mood. It’s a bit gritty, a bit home-movie like. It has SHADOWS. In between shots of sunny cosmopolitan Bangkok we get dark glimpses of folk superstition, despite Thailand being known for its gentle Buddhism. The Thai directors really hit the nail on the head there. They manage to emphasize that light and dark COEXIST on a daily basis in Asia. It’s in the simultaneous modernity and respect for tradition that makes Bangkok so interesting. That’s where the mystery and the inexplicable horror come from. The feeling of uneasiness throughout the viewing experience of the original “Shutter” is what makes it top-rate.

I didn’t mind spending P150 for the Hollywood version movie ticket. I was curious. It may come out on cable in a year or so. But I think, if you really wanted to enjoy “Shutter”, buy the 2004 Thai version on DVD and watch it in your darkened bedroom with a friend who enjoys the same thing. And if you’re feeling particularly brave, watch “Ringu” as well. The nightmares will make you lose weight.

GLOBE 3G AT P5/15 MINS!

Check out the new Globe 3G rates.

This is fantastic news. I am a loyal Globe user who also has Smart prepaid sim cards because

1) Smart has wider coverage nationwide due to their acquisition of the old Piltel network; and
2) Smart offers internet connectivity for P10/30 minutes.

My postpaid account remains with Globe because my entire family and our office are all on Globe, and Globe has better international roaming connectivity. I personally don’t know anyone who has availed of this Globe 3G time-priced service at this point, but I’ll be trying it soon. P5/15 minutes ain’t bad if all you want to do sometimes is view and send emails.

I’m still interested in the Smart Prepaid Plugit, a usb modem which includes a data sim card. Jim Ayson has a good overview of this product. It’s priced at P4,500 in a one-time payment, which includes P30 load on the sim. It’s good to have this kind of flexibility if your work requires you to travel around and there are few internet cafes in sight.

RUNNING: THE 2006 YAKULT 5K

I started my running career with my former trainer, Lawrence Gange, in December 2006. From June to December that year, on Lawrence’s personalized core strength and cardio program, I lost 10lbs and lost a couple of inches off my waist. Then he said, “I’m entering you in the Yakult 5k in December. All you have to do is finish the run.”

My sister Joy, who was working on losing postpartum weight, agreed to be my running buddy. We ran from Star City down Roxas Blvd. all the way to… Pedro Gil? Or was it Padre Faura? Then back to Star City. It was the first time I was able to run continuously without stopping, at my own pace. Joy and I had made a pact – no leaving the other one behind. It was fun, a well-organized run. I finished the race in 52 minutes, receiving a certificate and a Yakult finisher jersey big enough to be a dress if I’d belted it. I was exhilarated. And hungry as hell.

Not too bad for a first-timer, I thought. To think, I was even running while on antibiotics (a wasp bite had gotten infected). I was amazed to feel a second wind kick in, halfway through the race. I was thinking, “So this is what it feels like.” For a moment it was as if the rest of the world had melted away; I felt I could keep on running and running. Alas, during the last 2 kilometers the arch of my left foot started aching and went numb. Since I have flat feet, I run in Nikes with a padded insole. At the time I really couldn’t feel anything in my left foot except pressure, so I just continued to run, filing the experience in my head as something to work on. There were water stations along the route, so I wasn’t too dehydrated.

At the last 500m I could hear Lawrence shouting from the sidewalk, “Go girls!!!” Apart from Joy and myself, he had another client registered in the Yakult 5k. Lawrence had hurt his ankle in a kitchen accident two weeks before. I remember that day, seeing him on the sidewalk propped up on crutches, waving his stopwatch with an infectious grin on his face. I waved and grinned back, and kept running.

We celebrated with breakfast at The Aristocrat. Our entire family showed up for moral support. We have a picture with Lawrence, but I can’t find it yet. Will post it when I do. Lawrence immigrated to Canada with his nurse wife a few months later. And I have continued to run ever since.