Saturday, September 30, 2006

Morning at Tate Modern, afternoon with kids, and a Chinese-themed evening

Tate Modern
Matisse, Miro, Mondrian, Dali and Picasso. A treat for contemporary art lovers, housed in a former power station at Bankside. I console myself with the thought that what I paid the in-house cafe for lunch will go to the upkeep of the gallery.

Goal! homework club
My second time with this group. This week, there were seven of us volunteers and 16 kids. I helped a 7-year-old girl with her homework. Afterwards, the kids painted flowerpots. Next week, they'll be planting bulbs and daffodils in them. It looks like I'll be spending my Wednesday afternoons in school, but I still hope I can help out.

House of Flying Daggers
Screened the film in the sitting room after a Chinese dinner, complete with decorations in the dining area. I must say that HoFD is Takeshi Kaneshiro's best performance so far--he actually acts.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Tuesday highlights

Some of you must be thinking, aren't you supposed to be studying? Truth is, my classes begin next week, so I'm making the most of my time and my one-week bus pass (£13.50), seeing the sights of my home for the next 12 weeks.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
Breezed through the rooms. I want to go back and give the masterpieces the attention they deserve.

Theatre Museum, Covent Garden

History for every theatre fan.

University of the Arts London, off Oxford Street
Met my friend Trisha, who's studying at Central St. Martins. She said I ought to get a £15 cellphone. I'll think about it.

Curry @ Bengal Cuisine, Brick Lane

Passed by Jack the Ripper territory to reach Brick Lane, Hackney's own little slice of South Asia. Had Korma curry, very much like Bicol Express.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Victoria & Albert Museum
At the entrance, a Will Ferrel look-alike approaches me.

WFLA: Excuse me, but what time does the museum close?
Me: (Looks at sign on the post behind him.) 5.45?
WFLA: I just came from Japan and I'm... (shakes head)
Me: Jet lag?
WFLA: Where are you from?
Me: Philippines.
WFLA: My ex-girlfriend was from the Philippines. (Pause.) Been here long?
Me: A week.
(Beat. I take advantage of the silence to slip into the museum.)

Lots of little schoolkids in red sweaters shuffling after their teachers and fashion students sketching the dresses.

Museum of Natural History
Dinosaurs! Stuffed animals! A kid's fantasy.

Quentin Blake exhibit, National Theatre
Saw the original illustrations for Roald Dahl's books.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dreamgirls trailer

Sorry, Beyonce, but I think Hugh Jackman's version of One Night Only is better (see video in July archives).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A sunny weekend

It took about an hour of pretty brisk walking to get to Camden High Street. (I know, I know, that's not something Filipinos do. In Manila, we think 20 minutes of walking is long and we don't even walk fast. Here, public transportation is good but it's expensive.) We didn't reach the market area, but we got to the 99p shop. I'll be back there for sure.

Saturday afternoon: Cross-town
I took the bus with Ria (also Filipino, a King's College student who lives on the same floor as I do--fourth if you count the ground floor as the first floor, third if you start counting from one after ground floor) to London Bridge station. Ah yes, there was a huge billboard of Fergie (Black Eyed Peas) promoting her single. "How come every time you come around..."

We then skimmed the Thames to the Globe Theatre and the Millennium Bridge, crossed over to St. Paul's Cathedral and took the scenic bus 15 route across the heart of town to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Sunday morning: Angel
Eight of us looked for the Angel Canal Festival, only to find out that it happened two weekends ago. We went instead to the market and shops at Angel and made it back home in time for lunch.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A rainy Friday

I bought a bottle of water and a sandwich at Sainbury's Local for lunch and walked up and down Oxford Street, entering the high street shops like a kid on a field trip. After registering at the Institute of Education, three Filipinos working at the IoE residences treated me to dinner at China City.

Lita dela Cruz works for John Adams Hall, the IoE main hall of residence. She has been in the UK even before I was born, working first as a domestic helper and then in a hospital. She will be retiring in the Philippines next month. Her husband, a retired policeman, joined her in London a few years ago. Nene, who was in the same agency as Lita, has been in London for almost thirty years.

It's good to know that, in the midst of this busy city like this one, there are people who will welcome you with open arms, even if you have never met before.

I took all but the group photo on Saturday. Madaya ba? Rain makes everything terribly gloomy.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Get well soon, Hamster

Richard Hammond, the Top Gear presenter was in the news last Thursday. He figured in an accident while trying to break the land speed record. Top Gear is an auto programme where they do some crazy things to prove what cars and drivers can and cannot do. I don't like cars and I don't like driving, but they do the show so well that I love all the hosts, even the usually unlovable Jeremy Clarkson (Coni, you may react now). Hamster, as Clarkson and James May call Hammond, happens to be my favorite of the three hosts. Last I heard, he is now stable and the brain injury may not be as significant as initially thought. I feel for his wife and two young daughters. I hope he gets back into top form.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Discovering Dijon 3: Churches, museums and two men who made an impact

Spent Monday going to three churches and three museums. Almost got kissed by a museum security person I thought was just being friendly. (It's not going to happen, old man, even if you were half your age and twice as good-looking.) All the history and art that I took in that day were eclipsed by that incident. I can just laugh about it now.

The following morning, I left on the 6:51am train back to Gare de Lyon. While waiting for the airport bus, a black man approached me.
"Manille?" he asked.
"Oui," I said. He shook my hand. I noticed that the whites of his eyes were very yellow. Thoughts raced through my head. Will he ask me to bring something to Manila for him? Is he trying to con me? He said that his friend was from Manila and had a tall son named Felipe who is now in England. I didn't know how to respond. My face must have been blank.
He took a step back, then wished me bon journee. I felt guilty for thinking as I did. "Merci beaucoup," I replied.
I hope he saw that I smiled.

For a closer look at the photos, see my Flickr page.

Discovering Dijon 2: Centre-ville and Beaune

Sana hindi kayo nahilo.

In a word, Dijon is charming. Every street corner is picturesque. I set out last Friday without a plan, going around in circles. It drizzled, but it was still a lovely market day. The free Diviaciti mini-bus goes to the tourist spots, a convenient way to get around. Twice on the mini-bus, I was surrounded by a noisy troop of French high school boys. (Some of you would have enjoyed that, but I found them KSP. The first time, they picked on the one beside me and kicked the back of my seat repeatedly.)

I forgot my schedule of activities for the induction in London and couldn't open the e-mail attachment at CRI, so I missed the first few talks and dinner at the Universite de Bourgogne. Delinkwente! But I made up for it by staying through all the talks the following day.

In Dijon, the Arab and black communities seem larger than the Asian one. It must have been interesting to see five of us Asians walking around together. On Saturday evening, I was with Priya (India), Monchanok (Thailand), Adele (Malaysia) and Li (China). Shops closed early and it wasn't very pleasant to walk around a half-dead commercial area. As we were all on a tight budget, we shared pizzas for dinner. The following day, we had lunch at Mister Kebap. Anything to avoid McDonalds, you see.

We capped the weekend with a trip down to the vineyards and winetasting in Beaune, famous for its Hotel-Dieu of the colorful roof tiles. (Erratum: Clos de Vougeot, not Clos de Vosgny. I don't know where I got that name. Will upload photos tomorrow.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Discovering Dijon 1: CRI

From the Gare SNCF (train station), I took the bus to Centre de rencontres Internationales et de sejour Dijon (CRI). On the bus, I met a young woman and a couple who were going to CRI for a political meeting. Madame Dominique helped me check in (it took half an hour-- French time, according to her).

CRI is a hostel north of the city center. I got a basic dorm room. I was alone in the room on the first night, but four fellow CoMundus students transferred in on the fourth night.

Please forgive my feeble attempt at putting together a video. Hindi ko siya kinarir. I had to economize on memory card use. I'll improve the image quality next time.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Passing through Paris

After going through tight security checks at Heathrow, I flew to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and took the Air France bus to Gare de Lyon to catch the TGV to Dijon. In Paris, these are the things I noticed:
-beso-beso is also practiced man-to-man (and always both cheeks)
-the French bring their dogs everywhere
-aside from dog poo, you have to watch out for chewing gum (I stepped on gum twice during my entire stay)
-there is so much graffiti on public structures (walls, trains, tunnels)
-going to the WC (CR) is a privilege one has to pay dearly for

It was a good thing that I had planned every step of the journey. It would have been nerve-wracking to figure out the transfers. Knowing some French is a tremendous help, especially when it comes to understanding directions.

A happy accident

Detail of my eighth painting for the exhibit. The full painting and the other seven are here. My camera is kind to brightly colored paintings, but not to light ones.

I wasn't happy with the way I applied the paint with the palette knife, so I scraped it off. Then the painting just looked better.

Just came back from France, so I'll be posting about my Dijon trip very soon. Pramis.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Google resurrects the dead

Dead literary icons, that is. Google has digitized out-of-copyright books for everyone to read.

Step 1: Think of a dead author (say, Austen or Dumas)
Step 2: Go to Google Book Search and click "Full view"
Step 3: Download PDF file
Step 4: Print

You can also search for snippets of copyrighted material.

Is this the web's payback for print's slow death?

Current location: Dijon
Weather: rainy but not cool
Travelogue to follow next week (mahal ng Internet!)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Travel diary: MNL-HKG-LHR

Flight: CX 218 (Cathay Pacific), around 90 minutes
Notes: Volunteered to take an earlier flight to HK. Better to wait at HKIA than NAIA.
Dinner: Slightly spicy beef with rice.
Viewed: CSI:NY
Check-in baggage: 27 kilos (!!!)

Flight: CX 251 (red-eye), 11 hours 45 mins
Notes: Some flight attendants are in vintage Cathay uniforms. Prefer the 50s grey manang look with pleated skirt to the late 60s red minidress.
Dinner: Penne pasta in red sauce
Breakfast: Asian noodles
Viewed: The Da Vinci Code, American Dreamz, and the bios of Simon Cowell and Olivia Newton-JOhn on E!

Train: Heathrow Terminal 3 to King's Cross on the Piccadilly line, about an hour
Black cab: King's Cross to Ashwell House, less than 10 minutes

Off to Dijon tomorrow. It's possible that I'll be quiet for the next few days, if there's no Internet connection within easy reach. I have a few posts up my sleeve, but the travel kwento will have to wait until next week, when I've uploaded the photos.

(I can't believe I'm actually here. Pinch me!)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Am flying off to London via Hong Kong tonight. I feel strange, like something's bugging me but I don't know what. I have to shake it off. Let's get happy and hyper like Aia!

Taralets by Imago, directed by Marie Jamora. I miss those Idlip days.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A tale of two churches

I went with my family to Antipolo Cathedral yesterday to pray for a safe trip. Home to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, the cathedral overflowed with locals and people wanting to have their cars blessed. Hearing half a Mass under a tree as children played tag, a souvenir photog walked around and some folds held on to their cellphones wasn't such a good idea. It's safe to say that almost everyone listening from the church grounds didn't know why they were there--many of them thought Communion means it's time to go home (and five out of a hundred people received it).

We bought suman and kalamay from the vendor who found a parking space for us (utang na loob at work) and munched on cashew nuts on the way to Sta. Mesa, where we greeted Lola Charing a Happy Grandparents' Day.

Crossing the city, we flocked to the Shrine of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life (and you thought Nuestra SeƱora dela Paz y Buen Viaje was long), a popular wedding venue. The shrine, a stone's throw away from MoA, was donated by Henry Sy.

Nabentahan kami ng raffle ticket on the way out. God's payback takes on different forms, eh?

Photos by John Felix Santos and Francis Pacunayen

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Excuses, excuses

Really now. Seen behind a truck along Makati Avenue. I stopped walking and took a few steps back to take a snapshot. This is Mari-An's territory (funny signs, I mean, not Makati Av), but I'm putting this up because it made me laugh.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Coffee, cake and Kristina

Actually, I had iced chocolate. After walking aimlessly around Megamall, Kristina and I settled on Sugarhouse, and spent the next three hours catching up on the last three years.

Kristina never fails to make me laugh with her exploits. She used to tell me about how the artist Pacheco wanted to paint her semi-nude and her trips to Malate. Now, she's moved on to her rakets and her trip to the Bureau of Customs.

Kristina wrote my writeup in our high school yearbook, using snippets of our conversations to highlight my hilarious tactless moments. This is my favorite part:

Me: I like the way you walk. You have a...gait.
Kristina: Isn't that what you use to describe a horse?
Me: Yeah.

Straight from the horse's mouth.

Friday, September 8, 2006


Three years ago, my blockmate Bob asked me if I wanted to act in a short film for Quark's class. It was a dramatic thriller. I read the script, liked it, and said yes. (A few days before the shoot, he said it was too complex given the time frame and made it into a musical comedy instead. But that's a different story.) When we finally shot it, I was only too happy to be in the same frame as Ronnie Lazaro and Racquel Villavicencio.

Last year, Bob e-mailed me and other friends the script for a feature film. It was a dramatic thriller, but probably more Asian horror than any other genre. I read the script, liked it, and gave him my comments. When I sat with the core production team during their first pre-prod, I was at a loss how to help them get money for this indie. Months later, when Bob called me up, I was only too happy to hear the good news...

Numbalikdiwa, starring Maricel Soriano, Albert Martinez, Ping Medina, Meryll Soriano, and Estrella Kuenzler premieres in October. (note: trailer above not final yet)

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Catching up with my Rowling

The last time I read a Harry Pottter book was in college, so I'm a bit behind. Must read before the next film catches up with me, I thought. I finished Order of the Phoenix last week and I'm determined to finish the second half ofHalf-Blood Prince today, in between appointments.

From The Independent:
People named Riddle, McRae, Granger or Crabtree have the most adventurous ancestors who are most likely to have emigrated from Britain to across the globe over the last 125 years.
Itals mine. Did J.K. Rowling know that all along?

Image by T.Boyle

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The joy of the everyday


Drama in a bottle of Johnson's baby oil. Inspired by the Mundane Details Flickr group, here are more wala lang photos that prove that there is art in everything, as well as a whole bunch of flora photos for the green-minded.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

You gotta have a gimmick

I haven't seen music videos lately, so stumbling upon this certified YouTube hit was a pleasant surprise. It's OK Go with Here It Goes Again. Enjoy!

Monday, September 4, 2006

Village Idol

Jan is a fortunate man. After Mr.C slammed his performance on Philippine Idol Saturday night, he found himself in the boys' semifinals top four, earning a sure spot in the Top 12. Bridge Over Troubled Water was too big a song for him, but he promises to improve with every show and I believe him. Unlike the other contestants who are seasoned performers (and you can tell), his talent is still very raw. I knew he could sing because we would hear him in church, but I have yet to see him do a fast number.

Is it unbelievable that he made it this far? Honestly, Top 24 must have been tougher to crack than Top 12. It's a popularity contest now. From the looks of it, he's won half the battle. Dance lessons na lang ang kulang.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Leave it to the Swiss Army

We were comparing the old Victorinox swiss army knife to the smaller Shell giveaway one when papa cut his thumb. His blood dripping on my foot and the floor, the family quickly set off--ma wiping the blood stains, my brother getting iodine and band-aid, me getting cotton and scotch tape. That was quite a lesson, so you can be sure no such gadget will be in my luggage. Some things are better left to the Swiss Army. N'est-ce pas?

Saturday, September 2, 2006

10 days to take off

I've started packing my things and was amazed that it didn't take long. Maybe that's because I set aside the clothes beforehand, plus I have a packing list.

Just waiting for the approval of my Schengen visa. Let's hope that everything will go as planned.

What's that above? Images for the sake of not having an all-text entry, taken a day apart in two different restrooms. I've always wanted to shoot against a tile background. Hirap palang maging photog and model at the same time. My eyes look like that because I still wake up at 6am though it's been a month since I last worked at an office.

Manila weather
Sunrise 5:44am
Sunset 6:07pm
Temp. range 24° to 31°

Friday, September 1, 2006

The Deaf Designer

Her story is inspirational, to say the least.

I met Clarice 11 years ago, on a visit to the Southeast Asian Institute for the Deaf. Born hearing-impaired, Clarice did not let her handicap stop her from finishing college. With the full support of her family, Clarice attended Rochester Institute of Technology in New York state.

An interior designer by profession, she now teaches at the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies at the College of Saint Benilde.

I e-mailed her a few weeks ago when I saw a segment on her on Mel & Joey. Last week, she had a little chat with my fellow scholar Indi, who used to work at CSB. Small world.

Disabled but able. That's Clarice. I feel extremely blessed to know her.