Category Archives: culture

That time we went to the Ayala Museum for free

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Out of nowhere, my friends decided to go to the Ayala Museum on a weekend to #GetCultured. Fortunately, my brother actually told me that on this Saturday we were eyeing, there would be free admission. So I told my friends I wanted to go there on that specific Saturday with the condition that we visit during the opening at 9:00am simply because I did not want to compete with the hordes of people going there on a free day. It’s been some years since I last visited so I was down to going back again. After breakfast at the Salcedo Weekend Market, me and my friends went to get cultured.
 


At the lobby, there were some activities available such as making your own bag, coloring for adults and even doing a newscast sponsored by CNN, who were giving away free bags as long as you sign on their wall.

 

There were so many dioramas on the first floor, about 60, plus a lot of artifacts on the upper floors. Elevators are available for those who need it.

 

Going around the museum, you are allowed to take photos only up to the 2nd floor, if I remember it right.

 

My favorite section would have to be the “fashion section.” OK, I only call it that because I forgot what it was really called. It featured the different ‘gowns’ worn by priests over the decades. What I love about them is that the gowns were so intricately designed, with embroidery or delicate stitching. Gowns were also color coded depending on the occasion for it to be worn, eg. black gowns for funerals, white for solemnities and violet for advent and lent.

 

I also loved the section on Zobel de Ayala and his hand written letters to his family (no photos allowed in this section). His handwriting was gorgeous plus he was so eloquent and funny (yes, I read his letters).

For a Filipino museum, I was impressed with how the Ayalas were able to present their museum. I know it doesn’t compare to those abroad, at least those that I’ve been to like the Korean War Museum or the Smithsonian, but still, they had a lot to offer, considering this is a private museum. I highly encourage everyone to visit the museum once in a while. Tangkilikin ang sariling atin. Please visit their website for more information. They are open from 9:00am to 6:00pm, Tuesdays to Sundays. Regular admission fee is P425.

Les Miserables in Manila

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As usual, I am again in awe of musical plays. Les Miserables, or Les Mis, is no exception. From the cast to the live orchestra to the set and lights to the acting and singing, everything was brilliant.
  
Even though I am not a super legit huge fan of Les Mis, and though I don’t easily ‘cry’ with movies and the like, there were moments when I would get teary-eyed with the performances, like during the revolution scene when they sung ‘One Day More’ because if you don’t get teary-eyed in that scene, you’re a cold-hearted alien. Haha! They sing with so much emotion! That also happens to be my favorite song in the whole musical. Part of why I like it, aside from the blending of the different cast in singing it, is because it reminds me that thank goodness there’s no war anymore and that in life in general, we only live day by day. And when we do live and wake up the next day, then that’s one more day to be thankful for.  

 It also kind of saddens me that the love of Marius and Cosette is so rare nowadays. Who can actually say that they would travel through hell and back just to spend a minute with their love? Or would fight through war for a moment with her? Nah. Nowadays it’s just texting and meet-ups while ignoring each other and web surfing and skyping when convenient and just taking advantage of each other, fulfilling each other’s carnal lusts and leaving each other when the going gets tough. But during their time, because of the war and distance and the fact that they had so much to lose, love was something they fought for and cherished.  

 Rachelle Ann Go played Fantine and she was amazing. I’m not being biased since she’s Pinay but she was pretty great. I guess one song I didn’t really ‘feel’ was Eponine’s song, ‘On My Own’ which hel-lo, is one of the most popular musical-based songs. It seemed like she wasn’t feeling the song and there wasn’t much emotion in it. My siblings also felt the same. Other than that, everything was awesome. Love the scene when Javert jumped over the bridge. Galing! They had some illusions at the back that made him seem like he was falling. And the conductor was a woman which is awesome.

    

If you still can, I highly encourage you to see the musical and join the revolution. If not, then maybe just the movie version of it (but it won’t be as good as the ‘real, live’ thing) =)

 

  

Baguio Birthday Weekend

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I’m not usually big on birthdays. I rarely celebrate it, except for the obligatory family dinner. But this year, I decided to drag my mom and sis and celebrate in one of the country’s ‘cool weathered’ tourist destinations – Baguio. It’s been more than 5 years since I last went there and I guess it’s the easiest place to go to if you only have the weekend. And I desperately needed to get away from the city, from the people, from work. Since we went there in October, it was pretty chilly so make sure you come prepared with a thick sweater and even a blanket for the bus trip.

Victory Liner First Class Bus. I bought our deluxe tickets a week before October 25, our departure date, at their Cubao station (along EDSA near Chowking and 711). Ticket per person cost about P750 one-way, which includes snacks and drinks. The air-conditioned bus has its own ‘stewardess’ to assist you, has a restroom inside the bus, has lazy-boy types of reclining chairs, has only 3 lush, roomy and comfy chairs per row, has a socket per seat so you can charge your phone, is non-stop and has wifi. Also, deluxe passengers can stay at the VIP lounge at the station, which is air-conditioned and has a TV. Make sure you’re at the station at least 30 minutes before your scheduled trip since they give away the seats to chance passengers. It was quite weird that the bus going to and fro was not full, though all the tickets were already sold. So even though our allotted seats were at the back, we were able to transfer to the front because the other passengers were a no-show. Unfortunately, you can’t buy a two-way ticket so when we arrived at their Baguio station, we immediately bought deluxe tickets going home. You may also opt for their regular bus trips for half the price. Our schedule was October 25 (Friday), 8:15pm going to Baguio then October 28 (Monday), 1:10am going back to Manila. Going there it took about 6 hours; going to manila took only about 5 hours. In fairness, the buses left the stations on time. We stayed at my mom’s place and took cabs around the city. I’ll share what you can possibly do in Baguio in just one weekend in a steady, relaxed, no-rush pace.

SATURDAY

Café by the Ruins. We didn’t have a particular itinerary to follow and we didn’t go to the horseback riding places since we just really wanted to relax although we did have places to go to in mind. First up, brunch at Café by the Ruins, located right across their City Hall. Too bad one side of the café was closed off by Eurotel’s wall. So what was once an open garden is now just a wall with a garden painting on it. We had their Baguio Bagnet (P300), Mushroom Crepe (P200), Pinikpikang Chicken (P250) and their special coffee with whipped cream (P100). The bagnet and chicken were served with red rice. I highly recommend their bagnet and the crepe. Both were really good. The bagnet was crispy and tender while the crepe was very flavorful and creamy. We didn’t like the chicken that much because it was their native chicken, which is a bit tougher than our regular chicken, and the soup tasted a bit weird. The coffee is a must try! It’s their special blend prepared through a Japanese brew. Then, my sister surprised me with a birthday lava cake, which looked like a little ducky! So cute. Though I don’t necessarily recommend the lava cake as a dessert. Ambiance is nice since it’s very earthy, the café is clean and the service is great.

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Ben Cab Museum. I’ve been itching to go to Ben Cab’s museum but it’s a bit far from the city. What we did was hire a cab to take us there, who will wait for us then take us back to Session Road. The cab fee was P400. It’s a good thing too since there were some people ‘hoping’ to get a cab from the museum, which was a far cry. Entrance fee is P100, with 20% discount for senior citizens. I’m not an artsy fartsy kind of person who pretends she “gets” what the artist is trying to express through his art but I do appreciate a nice painting or sculpture once in a while. Ben Cab’s art was truly amazing. I took a few photos of the ones I liked and I plan on making them my personal phone wall paper. It’s amazing how much passion you can see and feel through his art and even through his museum. I wish I had as much talent and passion as he does. Did you know that Paul McCartney of the Beatles bought a piece from him for only P70? Amazing. And the Sabel woman you see in his art and whom he named his café after? A homeless woman he met and got inspiration from. Amazing. The museum is a bit huge and even has an eco-trail outside. Café Sabel is located on the lowest floor while Ben Cab’s home is right beside the museum. Mom said that she even chanced upon Ben having coffee at the café last time she was there. I highly recommend visiting this museum, even for an hour or so, not only to appreciate his art but also to honor one of our National Artists.

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SM Baguio. We didn’t plan on going malling while on vacay but we had to buy a few stuff so we decided to check it out. Besides, SM Baguio is the only SM mall which is open aired. Aircon not needed. It also rained so we had to stay indoors and opted to watch a movie.

50s Diner. I’ve been reading about this place in numerous blogs so we made sure to have dinner there. As evidenced in the photos, people came in multitudes lining up for a spot inside. It took a few minutes of waiting but at least they had a ‘waiting list’ so it was orderly. Once inside, a sort of 50s vibe was going on though don’t expect it to be too fancy. The chairs were just regular onces and the plates were plastic. We ordered their huge cheeseburger (P150), some kind of pork belly with shrimp and veggies called Gangsta meal or the other (P300), asparagus soup (P50), fresh salad (P120) and two milkshakes – one chocolate, one strawberry (P80). Unfortunately, I did not find their food that good. Sure, you pay what you get because it’s so cheap but so filling but the quality and taste is not for seconds. The burger though I think was the best part of the meal. The milkshakes lacked creaminess and flavor for me. Personally, it’s not somewhere I’ll be going back to or would be craving for. But if you want a big meal for an affordable price, I recommend this to you.

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PNKY cafe. A few steps away, we chanced upon this quaint top-of-a-hill spot called PKNY Café. Right beside it is their own B&B. The place is small but super nice, with pretty details like retro Samsonite luggages, lomo photos of the owners around the world and little trinkets here and there. I summed up that the owners were Christians (from the music) and were hard-core travelers (from the decors). Their menu was a collection of travelling photos and they even put the bill in a customized wooden mini-luggage. We ordered their ube crepe (P120), apple pie ala mode (P145) and two brewed coffees (P50). Their ube crepe is a must try because it’s unique and actually tasted good – with yam and macapuno as the filling. And it’s so pretty too, looking violet and all. Haha! They also serve meals if you’d like to try those out. I recommend this place if you want to stay somewhere quiet and quaint.

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SUNDAY

VCF Baguio. We had a light breakfast at our place then went to the 10am service at VCF Baguio, located inside the CAP building near ABS-CBN along session road. What’s nice about VCF Baguio is that their music team has a saxophone. What a refreshing way to worship!

Pizza Volante. After church, we walked towards the main session road and had lunch at Pizza Volante. Another option would be a Baguio original, Don Henrico’s, though they already have branches in Manila. At Pizza Volante, we ordered four of their smallest pizzas so we could taste four different flavors – Salmon, 4 cheeses, sardines and their Mediterranean pizza. Smallest pizzas range from P70-P100. We also added their regular Pasta Alfredo (P120) and organic lemongrass iced tea (P25). Everything was really good and I highly recommend eating at this place. It seems like they didn’t scrimp on the toppings, especially the cheese. The resto is not too fancy but not too drabby either. Plus, their lava cake (P80) with ice cream on top is to die for! Better then Café by the Ruins’ lava cake. You have to try their lava cake and pizzas at Pizza Volante.

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Ukay. Of course, what’s a vacay to Baguio without a trip to their famous ukay-ukays? You won’t miss them since they are scattered everywhere. We just concentrated on the ones in Session Road and though I have allergies, I pushed through my constant sneezing just to go through racks and racks of clothes.

Pubic Market. Another must-do is to go to their public market near session road to buy fresh vegetables, pasalubongs such as peanut brittle and lengue de gato as well as their famous walis tambo.

Commissary/ outlet stores. At around 5pm, we went to the Commissary/ outlet stores near (or inside?) Camp John Hay. If you’re into shopping, I guess you’ll enjoy the things there. Prices are in dollars and are not bad, actually. I found their 2+1 Maybelline Volume Mascara only costs roughly P700 when in Manila malls, that’s the price for only one mascara. Another tip if you’re taking a cab going to this place: make sure you make a deal with the cab driver to wait for you while going around the area because it’s quite hard to hail one once inside. A lot of people were approaching our cab asking if they could ride. From our house to the commissary (with about 30minutes waiting time) to the Forest House cost us P300 cab fare.

Forest House. Another first for me. This was highly recommended by my mom and is quite on the pricey side. The place looks like a lodge and was actually already decked in holiday décor. Make sure you call in advance and make a reservation because each table was already allotted to someone and even had personalized table names. They’ll also ask for your reservation code so make sure to call ahead of time. The ambiance is cozy, perfect for bonding and storytelling moments. We ordered their baby back ribs with mashed potatoes (P450), vegetables with shrimp (P250), lengua (P300), soup (P80), house tea (P100), hot chocolate mint (P120) and their double decked moist cake ala mode (P120). Everything was good, especially the super tender and falls-off-the-bone ribs. The lengue was creamy and melts-in-your-mouth. The cake was fudgy and super chocolatey, plus it looked pretty with its butterfly décor. I found the shrimp and veggies a tad bit bland but I guess it works best for senior citizens like my mom. The drinks were really good too. By the taste (and the price), you know they weren’t cheap with the ingredients. I highly recommend this place if you want something fancy yet offers value for your money.

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We started our trip with a bang and ended our trip with a bigger bang. Two days of sight seeing and food tripping in Baguio was good enough a refresher for me not just to get away from the stresses of work, but also as a mini-celebration with my two favorite gals. And with the convenient commute, cool weather, clean air, affordable meals and friendly cabbies, I’m thinking of going back again soon. 😀

An embarrassing requirement for MS clearance

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I’ve finally checked one of my bucket list items. Get a master’s degree before I get married – done!

Remember when I said that no matter how long or how hard it takes, I will graduate? Well, I’ve been true to my word and I now have a higher degree. I had a lot of bruises doing this, time was extended and a lot of bumps came my way, but God has guided me and given me the knowledge to finally finish it. And trust me it’s no easy task so Praise God!

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After all the pain, long nights, binging, intensive research, praying, travel-banning, writing, rewriting, editing, sweat, blood and tears, I am done with my MS in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines. I thought, finally I can breath. But then, I found out that in order for me to be cleared from the university, which is an SOP for graduates, not only did I had to secure signatures from different people, I also had to – sing!

Yes, sing! Sing the U.P. Naming Mahal which is the university's hymn. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't remember if this was a requirement back in college. Or maybe it's because I'm a summer graduate? But yes, I had to sing in front of a graduate school official. Good thing I found out I could sing through the phone! Imagine the humiliation I would feel if I had to sing in front of the school.

Singing is not my best suit so that would be a total embarrassing experience for me. But it had to be done so on the morning of a sunny June day, I sang my heart out. Haha! This is definitely a story to tell my friends. 🙂

Here's the official Filipino lyrics of UP Naming Mahal for all you soon-to-be-graduates 🙂

I.
U.P. naming mahal, pamantasang hirang
Ang tinig namin, sana'y iyong dinggin
Malayong lupain, amin mang marating
Di rin magbabago ang damdamin
Di rin magbabago ang damdamin.

II.
Luntian at pula, sagisag magpakailanman
Ating ipagdiwang, bulwagan ng dangal
Humayo't itanghal, giting at tapang
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan!
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan!

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UP Myth or Fact: The real deal

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Another unpublished article I wrote for a campus paper. Unedited. Something for the new freshies to think of.

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Freshmen class of 2012, welcome to the most sought after and probably most controversial university in the country – University of the Philippines – and congratulations for passing the nerve wrecking UPCAT!

Now that you’re officially a UP student, the crème de la crème as they say, let’s get a few things straight. You think you’re special? That everything will be a bed of roses from now on? Think again. Here’s a short list (in no particular order) of some misconceptions and stereotypes about being part of UP and the real deal behind each one.

Myth #1: “I passed UP. That means I’m smarter than the rest!”

Fact: There are a lot of people who are way smarter, more brilliant and wiser than you, in and out of UP. Not to mention, people who are more capable, creative and talented than you ever will be. Keep this in mind: just because you passed the UPCAT, that doesn’t mean you are the wisest among the wise. Not everyone from UP is smart and not everyone who is smart is solely from UP. Sometimes it’s just a matter of luck or perfect timing. I know a lot of people who freely chose to study in another university due to better opportunities, facilities, offers etc. even if they passed the UPCAT. There are a lot of other students from other universities and colleges who are much smarter than UP students (but don’t ever admit that to them, okay? Satin-sating mga taga-UP lang). This is a simple reminder for UP students so you won’t fill your heads with unnecessary arrogance and end up with a bloated head as huge as pegaraw.

Myth #2: “Puro aktibista ang mga taga-UP.”

Fact: I’ve heard a lot of parents saying they don’t want their children to study in UP because their kids will turn into ‘screaming, violent fanatics who rally against the government and the system.’ Though most UP students nowadays are silent and even (sadly) apathetic when it comes to joining rallies, as an iskolar ng at para sa bayan, you are still expected to stand and fight for the principles of UP, which includes being the voices and champions of the poor and of Filipinos. This may come in the forms of literature, advocacies, community-based activities and the like and not necessarily through violence. Whatever way, UP students should always be for their country and for their countrymen.

Myth #3: “Madali lang sa UP.”

Fact: Most probably, you will have more singkos than unos and you will meet tons of terror teachers who will make your stay in UP a living hell. No one will help you because UP has a “no spoon feeding” culture, which is one of the university’s strengths. It’s every man for himself. Sometimes, your best is not enough because even if you study all week long, even if you memorized everything, even if you have little study notes posted on your forehead and even if you prayed to all the saints, you will still get a failing grade. Since you’re in UP, you will have to deal with some of the best professors in the country who will sometimes give outlandish and extremely challenging class requirements. Most probably, there will come a time when you will wish you never set foot in UP. But before you lose hope, read Myth #4.

Myth #4: “Mahirap sa UP!”

Fact: In spite of the afore mentioned facts, there are also some subjects (of particular instructors) which you can pass even with excessive absences, even if you sleep in class or even if you forget to pass an assignment. Good news right? Right! These are the subjects most undergrads aim to get. You’ll hear classmates asking other classmates, “Alin yung pinakamadaling GE course? Nagbibigay ba ng uno si Sir Kyeme?” Though this is so, remember that even a class like this contributes something to you as a student and molds you. It may be to make you more resourceful, more curious or even to make you take the first initiative. Besides, you passed UP. Nothing is too hard for UP students.

Myth #5: “I will graduate on time, summa cum laude!”

Fact: Keep dreaming, buddy. You will not graduate on time and you will not graduate cum laude (even if you were the class valedictorian in your school in the province). I kid. Although this is not a super far fetched dream – a number of exceptional UP students have actually proven that this is in fact possible – do not lose heart when and if you find out that you will be delayed a sem or two. Not graduating on time is actually a “norm” in the university. Of course I still encourage you to try and aim to graduate in four or five years (for engineering students) because again, it is possible, but sometimes, uncontrollable outside factors affect your plan such as shifting to another course, not getting a pre-requisite subject because of limited slots and the like. Just like being delayed, ‘take two’ courses are also a ‘norm,’ usually for subjects like math, chemistry and physics. Now it’s another story when UP students get delayed for reasons such as misdemeanor, laziness or too much failing grades. Some students intentionally plan on being delayed two to three more years, maybe because they enjoy college life too much or maybe because they’re afraid to step out into the ‘real world.’ Don’t be one of those people.

Myth #6: “I will not change. I will stay the same.”

Fact: Sounds like a cheesy line from a song, huh? But truth be told, you will change. For the better, for the worse, depends on how you will react and perceive the events that will come into your life. But as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, you will change. It may be as shallow as you will learn to smoke, to drink (which is very common among UP students and frankly, some of the best works and ideas were birthed during inuman sessions) or you’ll meet your first dyowa. It may be as life changing as you’ll change the principles you stand for, you’ll lower your standards in life, you’ll be braver in facing problems, you’ll finally believe in God or you’ll be more liberated. Whatever it is, your stay in UP will make you realize a lot about yourself – your character, your capabilities, your dreams, your wants. Your four years (or more) of being a UP student will serve as a venue for you to hone and discover your potential, build up your character and unearth a new part of your personality.

Myth #7: “Puro war freaks ang mga fraternity boys at maaarte ang mga sorority girls.”

Fact: If you’ve seen the classic film Batch ’81 which features the culture of fraternities in a university in relation to the current events in society, then you would definitely have an impression that fraternity members are blood-sucking beings. Though there will still be a few frat wars or rumbles here and there, unknown to some, fraternities also serve other purposes depending on their organizations’ strength and goal. Some fraternities focus on academic excellence, others on sports while others get into university politics. In the same light, sorority members also have other roles such as spearheading charities, holding various fund raising events and different outreaches to communities (partida na ‘to bilang hindi ako myembro ng soro. Or ng frat for that matter).

Myth #8: “Delikado and unsafe sa UP.”

Fact: Unlike other private colleges and universities whose vicinities are enclosed, whose gates open via ID and whose area is packed with tons of guards, UP is an open community. There are a lot of different entry and exit points not only for students and faculty but also for robbers and other masasamang hangaring people. But over the years, the UP administration has been able to improve security in the campus such as providing lamp posts making streets well-lit, hiring ‘batuta boys’ aka Community Support Brigade (CSB) who roam around campus to secure the area as well as implementing a 10pm curfew inside, all of which have actually decreased crime rates according to the UP Police Force. There’s no need to worry just as long as you be careful and be alert in your surroundings.

Myth #9: “Pagka graduate ko, instant job agad ako. UP eh.”

Fact: Hell to the no! Trust me, it’s not that simple. Yes, there are a lot of jobs out there and sure, being in UP does give you an edge over other universities but quote me when I say, graduating from UP does not secure you a job. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and UP tries its best to prepare you for that. I learned from an HR personnel that most companies in the country usually choose the top three schools, UP being the first choice, though this still depends on the nature of work of the employer. On the other side of the coin, because of our reputation, a lot is expected from us therefore, we should deliver. We should show them that UP truly is the hub of exceptional students.

Myth #10: “Laging asa advantage ang pagiging UP.”

Fact: Sometimes. But sometimes, being from UP is also to your disadvantage. Some people, employers included, discriminate against UP students. If graduates of unknown colleges are being discriminated against, so are we. Some employers don’t like hiring UP students simply because they’re “mayabang, tamad, maarte at demanding,” which employers base on their past experiences with other UP grads (I know, bummer for future UP grads). Some stereotypes for UP students include “gusto mataas agad sweldo, gusto management position agad” as well as “matalino, magaling, madiskarte” and the list goes on. Don’t be egotistical and overconfident of being a UP student who acts like a know-it-all and has a too-good-for-you attitude. Never pretend you know everything and never assume you have all the answers.

In spite of all the mentioned misconceptions, one thing remains true: UP students should always remember the image of the oblation, the naked man with arms outstretched and face pointed upwards, which represents the selfless offering of oneself to his country. UP students should be like oble, whatever myth or fact there is.

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Any other myth/ fact you’d like to add? =)