Thursday, 29 January 2009

Playing by Ear

Ishna came along and we trotted off to Galleria Duemila in Pasay City for the Australia Day 2009 do a bit after 6 pm. The program said 7 pm, and we thought it might take a full hour to get there from home, and anyway they never start on time. So we got there at about 730 pm and realized that Grace Nono already sang, and a few people were leaving already. Shit.

The wine stopped after one glass. The beer and juices didn't. Two thumbs up for the cold drinks and the little snackettes. Well done.

Heaven knows how the Aussies found that venue. It was great though, albeit a bit difficult to find. I don't know anyone who wakes up any day and say, "Hmmm. I think I'll buy contemporary art in Pasay today." It was one of those big old houses of the old rich, those people who strolled in Dewey Boulevard after dinner at Senor Alba's. Gorgeous place, that. Actually, the entire street seems to be built round about the same era.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

PPO's Transymphonia: Glimpses of Europe

Pedro and I have gotten into this habit of getting in the car, sitting in traffic for an hour or so and watching the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra's Transymphonia at the Cultural Center of the Philippines once a month. I'm telling you it's worth it. After seeing the Spanish Embassy-sponsored concert last month our expectations were higher and of course the disappointment was greater. Where shall we start.

What I like about these concerts is that the attendees are just as interesting as the actual performance. The matrons and old gits never fail to amuse with their big hair and inappropriate wardrobe choices, and Friday night was no exception. As soon as we got there we decided to check out the mezzanine for hopefully a cocktail spread and were delighted to realize that the Czech Embassy, on the occasion of their six-month presidency of the European Union this 2009, is the main sponsor of the event. They were going to serve draught beer!

While waiting for the show to start, I walked towards the Gourmet Cafe booth where they're handing out free styro cups of coffee to the concert goers. Listen, Gourmet Cafe. If you want people to leave with good memories of your coffee, don't ever serve that watered down coffee and expect people to buy it. No wonder everyone was drowning sachets of coffee mate and sugar in their cups.

First half was great. Three anthems were played, then Sibelius and then Elgar. Great. I almost did a cartwheel to the mezzanine when intermission was announced. There was a bit of a confusion there. They weren't serving anything. And people just stood around wondering why. Hmmm. Went back for the second half. It was Lizst, then Dvorak, then another Elgar for the encore. Then a mad dash to the mezzanine for cocktails, where we were met by an efficient-looking secretary type who was turning people away. The buffet table which prominently featured Czech beer, nuts and crisps was cordoned off.

Guests of the Czech Embassy only.

That was sooo tacky. You don't hold a by invitation only drinks party in full view of all the attendees. Do it elsewhere if you don't want other people there. I don't know why these people are so elitist. VIPs only. Guests of the Embassy only. White people only. Jeez. I was feeling a bit disappointed and quite rejected, then I saw this elderly couple who was being turned away by secretary type. For Chrissakes. They must be at least 80 years old. They won't eat nor drink much. Let them in! Way to throw a fucking party on the occasion of your presidency of the European Union in 2009.

I hate the Czech Embassy.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Jessica Zafra beat me to it. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button IS Forrest Gump.

Knowing that the Christmas rush is over, we left the house at 5,30 pm hoping to catch the 6,20 pm screening at Shangri La. Tangna matraffic pa rin. So we didn't get to that, but luckily the one in SM Megamall was just starting when we got there so we promptly bought tickets and went in.

Incidentally, Brad Pitt is getting hotter. For over a decade now, everyone says he's the hottest man alive, and I never really saw it until recently. Compare:

In Thelma and Louise, and NOW:


And can I just say something here. Back in the late 80's to early 90's we went to the cinemas for movies because it was either that or a bad pirated VHS copy of the movie from your friendly neighbourhood rental store. We really didn't mind those uncomfortable cinema seats. If I remember correctly they were charging something like PhP 30-40 per entry then. Now we paid PhP 142 for a ticket to watch this movie at SM Megamall, and the seats felt like they belong to some long-haul bus company.

I don't mind paying that much if I get super comfy seats like the ones in Gateway Mall or Shangri La, but PhP 142 for a leg cramp and numb ass cheeks is just a bit too much for us. Also, what the hell is going on with the security guard flashing his torch every five minutes? I know they're trying to stop film piracy by catching those silly people who secretly film the screen inside the cinemas, but I'm pretty sure a pirated DVD copy of the movie is already available at St. Francis Square and Metrowalk anyway, so why bother. And if one's really serious about recording the movie inside the cinema I don't think the security guard's flashlight would deter him. I mean, come on. It was actually quite annoying that.

And don't you just hate those people who talk inside the cinema? Yap yap yap yap nonstop. I know it's quite rude and possibly unsanitary, but I do wish I have enough courage to stand in front of these people and spit on their faces. If that doesn't shut
them up I don't know what will. This sort of behaviour really just puts one off from bothering with catching a film at a cinema and just relying on the dependability of our pirated DVD vendors in malls.

After the movie we had a look inside Booksale at the basement and found a few books. Peter got two books on Billy Connolly and I got Graham Norton's Queer Facts for a total of PhP 500. Not bad, no?

Monday, 5 January 2009


After Photoshop

After beer, vodka, crispy tadyang, nankasoy ice cream, adobo flakes, tequila, biscotti, baileys, bottomless rice, chocolate mousse, fetuccine with creamy lamb sauce and orange meringue

Ngwek. Alek Ngwek.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Manila to Ilocos in a Picanto, Finale (Happy New Year and Back to Manila)

After a brief survey of the resorts on Saud Beach we realised that there was nothing happening on New Year's eve. No crazy beach party with fire dancers and loud music. Nothing. A couple of the waiters even said they're taking the afternoon off to be with their families so we weren't even sure if there was anywhere open for dinner. Luckily, there were a few places open. We didn't want to eat a crappy meal and experience crappier service at Villa del Mar, and we weren't going to Apo Idon where Peter sent two cold breakfast plates. Seriously, we've had the worst meals and the worst service from these so-called exclusive resorts that I'm left wondering what sort of hell-hole shite backpackers are left with in their budget hotels. The bigger the resort the shittier the service, it seems.

We ended up having a delicious Ilocano dinner at Saud Beach Resort which included a plate of calamari, pinakbet, bagnet and KBL, and steamed fish in white sauce. And plenty of beer. That was very nice. There was a family on the next table who shovelled food down their throats while managing to look perpetually disappointed. It turned out that they own the resort. After that, we drove back to our resort, went next door and had fruity pancakes for dessert.

By this time the wind was high and the waves crashing on the beach kept reminding e of that huge tsunami, so I took a nap and told Pedro to wake me up at midnight. After two minutes of random fireworks on the stretch of the beach it was over. We went back to the room and slept.

We woke up at 8 am, had coffee, packed and left Pagudpud. We were heading towards San Fernando, La Union, where we booked a room for one night at the Sunset Bay Beach Resort. We made a brief stop at the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse and, um, basically drove on until we were too hungry to notice the landscape. Since it was new year's day most places were shut, so we decided to go to Vigan in the hopes that Cafe Leona would be open.

The drive to Vigan took about three hours where we stopped for lunch at Cafe Leona in Calle Crisologo. Pedro had steak the size of a baseball mitt and I had my Ilocano pinakbet and longganiza. Delicious. On the side of the road from Vigan we bought several bottles of Basi wine and vinegar, two of which broke inside the car so it reeked of spiced vinegar, which still smells better than dog vomit, we both agreed.

Drove for another three hours and finally reached San Fernando, La Union. We checked into the room, I changed and headed to the beach with my trusty snorkle,
went back disappointed (murky, rocky), ordered beer and sat by the infinity pool. Sunset Bay Beach Resort is owned by an English guy called Spider who was teaching Arts in Hong Kong for decades and finally settled in this town. The resort is really qutie sweet. They only have about 15 rooms but an excellent kitchen, nice swimming pool and lots of easy chairs and gazebos where you can sit with your laptop and just use their wi-fi (not free, by the way) for free, just don't tell anyone.

We had a traditional English dinner with cottage pie, roast beef, mince pie and christmas pudding with vanilla ice cream. It was good, but not great. Went back to the room and overslept. The best thing about English food is the cooked breakfast, if you ask me. We had english sausages, minute steak, eggs, crispy bacon, toast and delicious coffee served in large mugs.

After a short while packing, we drove off to Manila via Clark. At the welcome arch in Sison, we stopped to have a look at these enormous prawns. I ended up paying up more, of course. Fuck these cons. And slap me for being stupid. They were delicious, though.

We're back home after eleven days, tired but happy. This was the break we needed. Now I'm drinking Sauternes, tomorrow I'm doing the laundry.