Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winning and Losing: The Filipino streak

Filipinos love to conquer the world stage. We have goosebumps whenever "Philippines" is mentioned in a worldwide competition. We tend to be prouder of Filipinos when they make it abroad. I believe our love for world recognition emanates from our long history of being a colony of various countries and empires, and our second class citizenship in our own country. Therefore, we take great pride when the world recognizes us for being "Filipinos" and what we can do. Our history books even have citations of great Filipinos who obtained world recognition. I remember as a grade school student, I first learned that Lea Salonga starred in the famous theater play "Miss Saigon" and Lydia de Vega is the sprint queen, etc. Countless of Filipinos have given our nation great pride and honor for their accomplishments. Now, with social media and more current and social affairs' awareness, Filipinos tend to be more vocal of what they feel about Filipinos making or breaking it abroad.

This year, among a roster of Filipino pride, Charice was under scrutiny. Her change of looks especially her hairstyle made quite a stir and was subjected to ridicule. Charice made us proud when at a young age, she graced shows like Ellen de Generes and Oprah, and has been included in David Foster's various singing engagements abroad. She also guested in the famous TV show, Glee. Though a lot of Filipinos take pride on her international access, she was also scrutinized for her alleged "Americanizing." She has been accused of trying hard to change her twang into American slang and her hair getting blonder and blonder and shorter. My take on this - let her explore her individuality. Honestly, I was shocked when I first saw her new look and speak in X Factor Philippines. But I also lived in the United States for a while and sometimes, you really have to speak their twang for them to understand what you're saying so perhaps Charice got used to it. On the other hand, I guess it is also good if she and other Filipinos would still stick to our Filipino roots. It's better to be "Filipino" when we carry ourselves out in the world.

Perhaps the most celebrated Pinoy pride in the recent decade is Pambansang Kamao, Manny Pacquiao. Manny became a pound-for-pound boxer, admired by everyone around the globe, not only Filipinos. This December, he fought for seemingly the nth time with Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico. I always say that only Marquez can match up with Pacquiao. In their previous fights, Marquez is the only one who can stand up with Pacquiao through the 12th round. And this year testifies that Marquez is really the man! He knocked out our dear Pacman. The results gathered mixed emotions. I'm just happy that the Filipinos were still proud of Manny despite his loss. I guess we all learned how we should be gratified by how far Manny has come along. Billiards player Efren "Bata" Reyes seemed to lose the nation's support when he didn't win the world title anymore which I think is depressing for him. He gave the Philippines pride as well and one loss should not let us forget the accomplishments he had. What would you feel if you are in their shoes? There are bad days, let's face it.

Nonito Donaire seems to have a winning streak on the other hand. He knocked out Arce a week after Manny lost to Arce's fellow Mexican, Marquez. I guess we can't have everything right? What is important is these Pinoy pride continuously do their best to give the Philippines glory. Win or lose, we need to support our Filipino pride. And we should not take pride only when Filipinos make it abroad. There are abundant talents here in the Philippines but they are left unnoticed and dare I say - unsung heroes - because they haven't brought any international recognition. We should not crave to be recognized as a great nation with great people. We are who we are. The important this is we know what we can do. As Bill Cosby said, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Rock bucket

It's just sad that hard core rock music has lost its way in today's airplay... But the good thing is, we can still listen to good old rock music using our players. I love buying original CDs of my favorite rock artists. I don't know what's on your bucket but if you'd ask me, it's definitely filled with rock albums! I thought perhaps I'd list what I believe are the top 5 must have rock albums (original release)...

5. Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication album

 I love Red Hot Chili Peppers because though they are not a heavy metal band, they're simply cool. Topless Flea, the bass player, another topless Anthony Kiedis and a whole bunch of LSS-prone songs. I particularly like their classics - Aeroplane, Under the bridge, and Give it away. But in terms of albums, I'd say that Californication is a must have. It's one of RHCP's contemporary albums which proved that they can stand the test of time. Californication gave the world hits like Californication, Scar tissue, Other Side, Around the world, and Parallel Universe. It has been named as one of the top must have albums in several musical publications as well.

4. Pearl Jam Ten album

Pearl Jam's music is a must listen over the radio. My favorite Pearl Jam song is in fact just a cover they did of Wayne Cochran haunting song, Last Kiss. But I think very few, if none at all, remembers Wayne's version. Eddie Vedder's voice made the song even more haunting. However, the must have album of Pearl Jam has got to be their Ten album. Ten produced hits like Evenflow, Alive, Oceans, and the classic Jeremy. Of course they have other famous songs but this album produced the classics. The album also had commercial success.
3. Guns n' Roses Appetite for Destruction album

 Guns n' Roses what can I say? GNR is on the top of my favorite rock bands of all time. Axl Rose, Slash, Duff, Matt... I will spend huge amounts of money if I can see them play together again but I'm sure it will never happen... so why Appetite for Destruction? Sweet Child o' mine is an immortal hit. If only to hear that song, you have to have this GNR album. Slash's Sweet Child o' mine guitar riff inspired millions of guitar players all over the world. But Appetite for Destruction has so much more to offer apart from Sweet Child. The entire album is a great playlist. I personally like all the songs in this album but for those that are not GNR fans, at least you have to listen to the other big hits that this album produced, i.e., My Michelle, Mr. Brownstone, Paradise City, and another GNR classic, Welcome to the Jungle.
2. Nirvana Nevermind album

Nirvana made grunge mainstream. It's just too bad that Kurt Cobain was gone too soon. Today's generation needs to have distinct and remarkable musicians. My generation is just lucky that while we were growing up, we enjoyed really good music. But don't fret, today's generation can still listen to Nirvana songs and they have to have the Nevermind album. For one, I think that the album cover is one of the best album covers ever made. It's simply brilliant. Aesthetics aside, Nevermind album produced Nirvana classics like Lithium, In Bloom, Come as you are, and the generation-defining classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  
1. Metallica black album

So finally, the top must have rock album - Metallica black album. You are not a rock fan if you don't listen to Metallica. Metallica led the pack of heavy metal rock bands and should you listen to Metallica, you have to listen to Metallica's iconic black album. To me, the simple cover is actually the best cover ever for me. It's simple, raw but classic - exactly what rock music is all about. To fans like me, the entire Black album is also a great playlist. But to non fans, I thought the Black album is worth listening as this is home to Metallica's greatest hits - Sad but true, Whenever I may roam, and Metallica's immortal 3, i.e., Nothing Else matters, The unforgiven, and Enter Sandman.

I am just glad and proud of the music I love but sad that music as great as theirs are very rare these days. But the good thing is we can all put it in our buckets and rock n roll all night!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sbarro: Fresh Italian cooking

I love Italian food! I can eat pizza and pasta everyday! There are lots of pizza parlors in the Philippines and all over the world but I only have one favorite - Sbarro. Whenever I visit, I would always order baked ziti and a slice of pizza - white or cheese... Their pizza variants are delectable. Baked ziti in white sauce with garlic bread is simply irresistible.

The prices are reasonable too. Sbarro is a fast food chain so the preparation of the food doesn't take that long. There's also a condiments area where Parmesan cheese, hot sauce, and pepper flakes are available. I always love pepper flakes on my pizza.

But more than the food, I love Sbarro for other things. Sbarro is senior citizen friendly. My aunt enjoys 20% senior citizen discount for her food. She's a diabetic but minimum intake of pasta and pizza doesn't affect her sugar level at all. Whenever I'd go to a mall she would always request for me to buy her baked ziti and pizza from Sbarro - her favorite take out... She enjoys the store ambiance too. It's not too crowded and the layout of the store allows efficient foot traffic.

But I have never liked Sbarro the way I do now. Why? Because of a recent experience with the Robinson's Ermita branch. I was so sleepy and a bit tired with all the paper works required in school so I thought of dining out with my family and having my comfort food. We stood at the counter waiting for our orders. When one of the crew handed the slice of pizza to me, it simply slipped in an instant. But even before I can say something, the crew smiled and told me that they will replace the pizza for me. I asked whether I have to pay again since it's actually my fault but she told me graciously that I don't. I believe it should be basic courtesy for any store to do that but i just didn't think that stores would actually do such and Sbarro did. For me, it's great customer service.

I love pictures but it's never my habit to take pictures of me or just about anything. But that day was an exception. I can't help but love my pizza more hence; I took photos of my very fresh pizza. I even took photos of my aunt and brother which I will never really tried to do before because I find it really cheesy. It became instant family bonding for us and I never thought that a fast food chain can give us such a great experience that day... Truly, Sbarro lives up to their promise of "fresh Italian cooking."

Try visiting their stores, especially the Robinson's Ermita branch where the crew is just amazing! Ciao!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Recounting the Accounting Profession

I attended the joint Oathtaking ceremony of new CPAs, i.e., those who successfully passed the October 2012 Philippine CPA licensure examinations, last Tuesday held at the PICC. October 2012 successful examinees got the second highest passing rate in history. Over 4,000 new CPAs took their oath last Tuesday. Due to their size, there were two sessions - morning session was for passers with surnames starting from A-J while the afternoon session was for passers with surnames starting from K-Z. I attended the afternoon session which supposedly starts at 1pm. We were there before 1pm but we were stuck in the long queue to get in the Plenary hall. The girl inductees were all parading their heels but wanted to trade their stilettos for a pair of flip flops sooner than later. We were standing in the queue for a good 1 hour. Perhaps others stood longer. When the doors finally opened, the lines were disregarded which made parents a little frustrated. The distribution of certificates and PRC IDs took a long time as well because two queues were made separately. However, with all these troubles, the event remained to be a worthwhile experience and I'll tell you why...

Honorable Rufo Mendoza delivered the opening remarks. In his speech, he mentioned really compelling information. 9 out of 20 topnotchers came from provincial schools. He stressed that he was impressed with the quality of accounting education that universities and colleges are providing. Provincial schools are now very much at par with Metro Manila schools. Two provincial schools even received recognition for achieving 4th and 2nd highest passing marks in the October 2012 CPA licensure examinations. UP Diliman had the highest with 100% passing rate. The highest place that an examinee from a provincial school obtained is third. The topnotcher graduated from St. Louis University. Who says Philippine education is lagging behind?

Gerry Sanvictores was the master of ceremonies. If I had the chance, I would've approached him. He was the head of HR while I was working with one of the leading auditing firms in the country. Yes people, I am an accountant hehe. The SGV glee club sang the national anthem and "the prayer." They also provided two intermission numbers, one of which was "This is the moment." I thought it gave goosebumps to successful examinees because the song describes the great feat they achieved. I suddenly remembered the day I took my oath as a professional. Pride is bursting out of me. I had a terrible flu when I took the licensure examinations but with God's grace, he made a miracle and made me pass...

The oathtaking ceremony was very insightful. One of the topnotches (yes, a boy and a girl tied at number 1 spot both of whom are UST graduates) provided a speech on the morning session so I missed it but the PRC Commissioner kept on bragging about the topnotcher's speech to the extent that the commissioner (a man) cried. Apparently, the topnotcher went through a break up when he took the licensure examinations. The insight was "you can't have everything." You simply can't. Blessings don't come easy. There are pay offs. And besides, there must be a better girl who will come along... So what I heard was the speech delivered by the other topnotcher (a girl). She's a consistent achiever so her parents are already used to her receiving awards. She mentioned that seemingly her parents want more so she made it a challenge and strive to be #1. The insight was "children will stretch their limits to make their parents proud." Though we might have misgivings, we always wanted attention from our parents; we always want them to be proud and say "that's MY child!" I personally aimed for that while growing up and until now. I never wanted to prove anything to anybody BUT to my parents. My parents didn't get to see me took my oath but they are so proud. I am contented that my aunt who raised me and my brother were there, proud.

Like what the PRC commissioner mentioned in his speech, the milestone was as great a feat for the parents as it was for the successful examinees and I agree. The commissioner even emphasized (and this brought the audience to roar in laughter and applause) that the new CPAs should give their entire first paycheck to their parents. He even joked that parents could come to his office and file complaints for non compliance which then will result to revocation of their professional licenses. It was the best attempt at humor that night and the parents were all happy... Truly, it seemed like all the hardwork they did, from waking in wee hours to change the diapers to teaching the first word; from teaching them to ride the bicycle without balancer wheels to fetching them from school; from sacrificing new clothes to pay the tuition fees to having sleepless nights when they come home late from bogus group study, has finally paid off...

But is it really the end of the "olympics" or the torch has just been set on fire? I'd say the latter. Their journeys have just begun... It's up to them what they'll make out of it. They'll drive their paths. Ranking on the exams would be beneficial at the start but sooner than later, it will be a fair game for everyone. It's how you play the game... and thus I thought, "what have I done with my license?" Have I done something so great for my profession? Yes, I might not have a long career yet, but I guess it's high time to check where I'm at. I guess the best I did so far was to stay in my country despite opportunities abroad. I thought that if I'll work as a professional, I'll work in my own country. I am very lucky that the boom of the outsourcing industry in the Philippines testifies the confidence global companies have over the competence of Filipino professionals. I also have another dream, i.e., to teach. I wanted to work on this after I completed my MBA. If I can just influence one out of every hundred to stay here in the Philippines, I'll be happy. If we can elevate the accounting profession here in the Philippines, why not? I do hope that this blogpost lands on the hands of one of the successful examinees. But hey, it's just me and my idealism. Whatever it is that we make out of what we achieved is totally a matter of differing viewpoints and circumstances. All I know is that we are bound by the same profession. Some calls us nerds and number freaks. But dare I say, we are proud to be freaks who can make a difference, and we rock at it! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas is...

So many things have been written about Christmas. I don't want to create clutter but surely I want to write my piece. I dunno - there's something about Christmas that makes our hearts fonder. Advent kicked in last Sunday, making me feel more excited of the days to come. We already put up our Christmas tree. We didn't buy anything new but I still admire how it looked. Why? because of the effort and instant bonding we had putting it up. I'm not blessed with height so my brother put the decors towards the top of the tree. Nobody disturbs my brother when he plays Warcraft but he willingly helped every single time I call him. The Christmas lights are placed around the tree but it's hard and stupid to circle around the tree to put it so my aunt and my brother stood with me in what seemed like an assembly line. We passed around the christmas lights and we finished setting it up in  no time. My aunt enjoyed though she underwent a minor operation three days before. My favorite decor would have to be the tiniest and cutest pairs of slippers custom-made for both my brother and I. They have our names on it. Looking at it makes me realize that I might not have really grown. I've always been the kid that I was years and years ago.

The Church always say that the true meaning of Christmas is not in the decors or Christmas trees. I believe that. However, the decors, especially the Christmas tree, warm my heart every time. Putting it up makes me remember the things that have happened over the years. It also reminds me of my family and our little traditions. My brother and I are really old enough now to hang socks on our window and wait for Christmas presents from Santa but the sock decor in our Christmas tree brings back fond memories of how we discovered who Santa really was.

My other fond memory of the Christmas tree happened on Christmas 2009 when I went to the US. I saw a real, fresh Christmas tree - snow filled! It was almost summer in the US when I decided to change my profile picture taken beside the snow filled tree. When I was a kid, I would read the Christmas cards that my aunt residing in the US send us every year (Too bad no one loves cards these days anymore). The cover always has snow filled Christmas trees or snowman. When I was young, I always wondered what snow feels like and what a real Christmas tree looks like. It took years before I got to feel it. I had flu the entire two weeks I was in the US but when it snowed, I really went out regardless, and rolled in the snow. If you think that playing in the snow is great; it was nothing compared to my first Christmas in so many years with my parents. My dad rolled in the snow with me!!! I thought I had fun playing when I was a kid but no. That was the best "play" I had my entire life so far.

Indeed, Christmas is about family, loved ones, and thanksgiving for the year that passed. Americans have thanksgiving. Filipinos don't. Thanksgiving happens on Christmas making it extra special. I'm sure a lot of Filipino families will have another Christmas like our family's, i.e., away from some loved ones. With globalization, perhaps even non Filipino families will experience the same. But we don't have to fret. Technological advances allowed us all to make Christmas special despite distance. So what does Christmas really mean, I asked myself.

Christmas is putting up Christmas tree with my brother and aunt... thanking God for the day before his birthday because that's the day the Lord gifted the world and ME with an amazing person, my bf... thanking God for giving me months out of the corporate world which meant spending a lot of quality time with my family and friends... thanking God for giving me a glimpse of what will come next... Christmas is watching home-made videos of my dad's version of classic songs - the best music I've heard. They're more wonderful than Christmas carols to me. Christmas is wishing and waiting for the most special Christmas ever - my brother, my aunt and myself with my parents in the snow-filled Christmas tree just like the Christmas cards... simple but priceless...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Interesting trends in the Philippines

No pictures, just observations...

1. Actors/actresses/singers/celebrities after a hiatus will return in the public eye - in the Senate, Congress, or municipal halls...

2. Parents dream that when they grow up, their children would either be a lawyer, a doctor or a showbiz personality...

3. Most Filipinos dream their entire lives to get out of the Philippines - work and live in another country...

But these migrants will remember the Philippines when they're old and retire in the Philippines...

4. If you speak in English, you look smart. If you speak Taglish (English and Tagalog combined), you look cool and posh...

5. International performers will hold concerts in the Philippines either when they're still making a name for themselves or they're already out of the limelight...

6. Most Filipinos say "awwww" when they hear foreigners say good things about the Philippines but when asked themselves, Philippines is the worst country...

7. Imported things are believed to be of higher quality...

8. Rich, famous, and intellectual people don't watch local TV shows and movies... Apparently, local shows and movies are "cheap"

9. Politicians become celebrities, and celebrities become politicians...

10. Filipinas marry foreigners and live abroad. Their good-looking children will return and live alone in the Philippines to become a celebrity...

Time will come when Filipinos don't look much like Filipinos and other nationalities would look more Filipino...

11. Roadworks are everywhere as elections draw near.

12. Hearthrobs and gorgeous actresses get platinum awards for their records. Real singers don't.

13. Indie movies cost less but have award-winning plots and cinematography. Mainstream ones are costly, mushy and funny...

14. People visit their doctors when they're already sick and calls the visit "check up".

15. People eat dinner during local news' slot so as not to miss their favorite telenovelas and blame PAGASA when it rains the following morning and they don't bring their umbrellas...

Friday, November 23, 2012

the List

By now, you should know based on my posts that I love lists so here's more...

I love musicals. I even watch musicals turned into movies, e.g., Mamma Mia, Phantom of the Opera. Then there are movies that have characters singing. So I thought I'd come up of a list of fun movie scenes where characters are singing. I did not include movies that are about singers, e.g., Rockstar, Dreamgirls.

5. Ashton Kutcher in "A Lot Like Love"

Ok. In our modern times, no guy really does serenades to win a girl over. But Ashton Kutcher's character did - rock n roll style. Ashton sang Bon Jovi's rock ballad "I'll be there for you". He even carried his electric guitar and amplifier. Who wouldn't say no to that? It wasn't the best vocals but hey, the effort is greater... Hopeless romantics would fall for this every time. Here's the video...

4. Cameron Diaz in "My Bestfriend's Wedding"

Cameron sang the entire song "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself". She was out of tune most of the time but the crowd loved her towards the end of the song because she really made an effort to sing given that she's a posh, rich girl who wouldn't really sing in a videoke bar. Of course, Julia Roberts character wasn't successful in her attempt to ruin her bestfriend and the latter's fiancee's wedding. Normally, one would be annoyed to hear a person sing this bad, but I guess beautiful girls like Cameron can get away with is, even charmingly.

3. Brad Pitt in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"

What makes this scene fun is not entire because it was Brad Pitt singing. Although I guess for some, it is. The fun part is the choice of song "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" by Air Supply. This song is a videoke favorite. Plus the context of the movie where it was injected. Mr. and Mrs. Smith are hired assassins. They got married knowing they are CEOs. They soon learned about their identities when they realized they are up to kill each other. Prior to the singing, they were discussing what lies they had, e.g., Angelina bringing actors to play as her parents during their wedding, dinners bought not home cooked. Thus, Brad began to sing a verse or two of Air Supply's hit. Here's the video (sorry, it's of poor quality but this is the only thing I can find in Youtube so far).

2. Tom Cruise in "Topgun"

You've lost that loving feeling... But people got that loving feeling for Maverick, naval aviator (played by Tom Cruise). Tom Cruise started the song then the entire navy crew sang. Who wouldn't dream of being serenaded by an entire fleet of men in gorgeous white uniform? Let alone Tom Cruise singing the first verse! It definitely tickles women and Tom Cruise was one of the first artists (in contemporary time) that sang in a movie. Here's the video.

1. Heath Ledger in "10 Things I Hate About You"

Before the late Heath Ledger became an Oscar nominee for Brokeback Mountain and before he actually won with his unforgettable Joker role, he was a teen hearthrob. I always say that among the teen flicks from the 80s to early 2000s, 10 things I hate about you is the best. The story is a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's Taming the Shrew. Heath played the role of Patrick Varona in the movie where he was paid by Joey, a conceited model, to date the sister (Julia Stiles) of the girl (Larisa Oleynik) he likes. The sisters have a very uptight father who won't allow his younger daughter to date until the older daughter dates. The older daughter happens to be anti social, temperamental and extremely difficult. Heath paid the school band to play some music while he sings. He ended up in detention but he won the heart of ms. difficult. I think during my teenage years, this has raised the bar for guys saying "sorry"... Say sorry in a song... =)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My style heroes

She's posh - what else can I say? I love Victoria Beckham's style post-Spice Girls. Ironic that Mrs. Beckham was first known to be Posh spice but I didn't like her style that time. I thought Spice girls were made too commercial thus her style back then was meant to be trendy rather than classic. This high collar for instance, with stockings and black heels - the get up is classic. Winter usually meant bulky jackets and coats but this look made winter fashionable.

That signature bob! Victoria Beckham made bob feminine and posh. Be it unruly or just-out-of-bed or with this tiny black headband, Victoria rocked with her bob. I thought she looked best with bobs. I wish I can wear this short hair myself but I can't. Her hair colors are not outlandish. It's always on the traditional brunette colors. She wore her hair blonde but she usually kept it brunette. But be it brunette or blonde, he hair is always fixed.

One thing I like about Victoria's style is that she looks professional. Most of her outfits are fashionable corporate pieces such as this one. The skirt and boots - Oh my! I love wearing boots to work. I can go to work with this style. I think that if she was a regular girl who goes to work, she would redefine corporate power dressing. Not a lot of style icons wear fashionable corporate looking ensemble. Victoria can... 

 Victoria rocked the bob hairstyles but she also wears her hair long. This hairstyle was a little unkempt but boy it is stylish. I also like the way she wears her make up. it's mostly subdued. In this photo, she wore nude lipstick. Her eyes are dark but they're not overdone. I's say her make up is kept minimalist most of the time. The hair and the make up allowed her natural beauty to glow. 

 I like black a lot. She wears black a lot! Again, this outfit looks classic and wearable to corporate work. The little belt accentuates and flaunts her little waist. Her wavy, long hair gives her a mature look. And she has a balance between runway looks and fashionable street wear. On the photo, she's wearing a black shirt, denim daisy dukes and black flip flops. The outfit is rather simple but she still maintains it stylish. Runway or street, corporate or casual, short or long-haired, she is POSH!
 Gwyneth Paltrow is almost synonymous to elegance. She has the height of supermodels; she has the ultimate blonde good looks. Any clothes fit her perfectly. Her outfits are sexy but  not sleezy. This is a magazine photo. Look at how that dress fits her. Now look at her red carpet look in the photo to the right. She keeps it simple, plain and one-colored.

Headband! Gwyneth looks young but not trying hard. She looks even more elegant when her hair is pulled back. Her beautiful, radiant face is emphasized. No earrings or necklace. Her style is simple but classic. Timeless, I should say.

 Like Posh, Gwyneth's street fashion looks straight out of the runway. Look how simple her look was in the photo to the right - gray shirt, white pants and sandals. Not all streetwalkers would look this fashionable with this rather simple look. But Gwyneth does.
Blazer and shorts - Gwyneth is only one of the very few who can pull this off. I can't say more. I just love this outfit.

Being the rocker that I am, Gwen Stefani is also one of my style heroes. Look at those abs!!! She has revolutionized female rockstar outfits. This look is majority white. Blazer on top of her bare abs. I think this is one of Gwen's signature looks. This is how her wax at madame tussauds looke as well. She puts sexy to rock.

 I work in the corporate world so I am really thrilled to see fashionable ensemble that I can wear at work. I love Gwen's look here. White collared shirt with tie and I believe cashmere on top. Like Posh, she also launched her own fashion line - my dream.

 Now, look at her street fashion. In more street fashion photos, Gwen looks more casual with rubber shoes and sneakers. But regardless, she is effortlessly fashionable and edgy too. She can rock any outfit she wears.

There you go - my style heroes. They're classic, timeless, edgy, simple and everything fashionable!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Voice Season 3

I love music and in the past decade or so, I've come to love watching reality singing contests, American Idol, Rockstar, and the Voice. I watched all seasons of the Voice. What I like about the show is that contestants were pre-selected already, i.e., everyone really knows how to sing. In American Idol, I enjoyed watching the audition episodes because some really are just gutsy. In the Voice, however, everyone can sing. The four judge/merntors also produces a good deal of following. The four judge/mentors, Adam Levine, Ceelo Green, Christina Aguillera, and Blake Shelton are all accomplished singers. They came from different genres: Adam is of course, the front man of Maroon 5, a pop-rock band; Ceelo Green is into pop (the good one that is); Christina is also into pop but she's more into the diva kind of thing; and Blake Shelton is into country music. When I watch the show, I felt that the judges' commentaries are reasonable and really helpful to the contestants - I hear technical comments. The fact that they fight over a contestant also makes the show fun and interesting. When two or more judges turn their chairs to a contestant, the contestant needs to choose which judge/mentor he/she would like so the judge/mentors will throw their sales pich to win over the contestant. This season, Trevin Hunte's audition made Blake Shelton come over to Adam and asked, "what the hell is wrong with you" or something. All the judges except Adam turned their chairs when Trevin sang the belter song Listen by Beyonce.  

Also this season, when a contestant loses in the battle rounds, the other judges can steal and ask him/her to join his/her team instead. Adam stole Amanda Brown from Ceelo. During the first performance rounds, when asked to comment about Amanda's performance, Ceelo said, "you know you're my favorite mistake". I like Ceelo's play of words and subtle comedic spiels in the show. Adam once told (somewhere along these lines) Ceelo this season, "you used lyrics to comment. I like that". Ceelo replied, "well Adam, I'll try to call you on the payphone." Payphone is of course one of Maroon 5's 2012 hits. Ceelo is also crazy flamboyant. I don't necessary like his outfits but every week, I am eager to see what crazy outfit he would wear. He also brings animals - parrots, cats. Christina would always wear skimpy, body-hugging, cleavage-showing dresses. This season, she always brings a fan. I don't know why. I guess it's one of her fashion statement? I'm really not sure. But the funny thing is, among the four judges, she seems to be the oldest because almost everytime, she and other judges turn their chairs to contestant, she would be chosen especially by teen girls or 20-something girls because apparently they grew up listening to Christina or that she's their idol, etc.

Blake also has his comedic spiels. Sometimes, he's sarcastic, and I love it. He messes with Adam a lot. This season, he won Cassadee Pope from the other judges. During the knock out rounds, Cassadee sang Payphone and Adam commented, "Oh Cassadee, you broke my heart when you chose Blake over me. Now you broke my heart again because you sang my song." Adam would look like he's the lazy type but boy, the very first The voice winner came from his team, Javier Colon. When videos are shown on how the rehearsals and mentoring went, it would show Adam was hands on and he gives the same amount of mentoring the other judges do.

The contestants are unique as well. Most of them are not too commercial or mainstream like Melanie Martinez and Nicholas David. When Nicholas sang during the knock out rounds, Adam commented, "when I listen to you, I wanna make babies." You may wanna try watching the show, too. For this season, my bets are Trevin and Nicholas from Ceelo's team, Dez (boy band, hottie material) from Christina's team, Cassadee from Blake's team, and either Melanie or Bryan from Adam's team. Amanda should also be fine as long as she chooses the right songs. Catch it on NBC. In Asia however, it's shown in AXN.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Filipino Christmas habits

The Philippines' current tourism tagline is "it's more fun in the Philippines". I'd say it really is during Christmas season and we have arguably the longest Christmas season... I listed down some of the Filipino Christmas habits through the years... Enjoy and advance Merry Christmas!

10. The countdown! How many more days before Christmas? We all love to count the days before Christmas and the closer we get to Christmas day, the happier it gets. In the Philippines however, though it's still September, we start counting down the days. It's really true when they say that Philippines has the longest Christmas season. Ber-months usher in the Christmas countdown and the season officially closes by Three Kings celebration sunday early in January (first Sunday after new year).

9. Christmas shopping. People would rush to the malls to buy presents for their family and friends. Tiangges (small shops) would be everywhere. People would also buy something new for themselves. Filipinos especially, will usually buy new clothes and wear them to the Christmas Eve or Christmas day mass.

8. Christmas decors. Homes and offices are decorated with Christmas lights, balls, garlands, trees, traditional belen (replica of the manger where Jesus Christ was born). Ayala Avenue, Manila's prime business district is lighted, decorated with lanterns and so much more. Malls would also light giant Christmas trees.
7. Christmas carols. Caroling is so much alive in the Philippines. Mostly, the kids will go house to house to sing Christmas carols. People traditionally give money to the carollers. In the malls and even in the houses, Christmas songs are played as early as September. Filipinos love music a lot. Christmas would definitely not be complete without the Christmas music.

6. Homecoming and reunions. High Schools, Colleges, families, friends will get together. Some even makes it an annual event. From grand reunions to simple dine outs, people would just love to get together.

5. Kris Kringle. "I love my monito/monita..." When we were kids, we sing that song before you give your gift to your monita/monita. Schools and offices would exchange gifts. Every day or weekly, there would be a theme, e.g., something sweet, something hairy, etc. People gets creative with the gifts. Monito/Monita is the one you chose, your "baby", the one you'd give your gifts to. The coolest gift I received is a slimy toy rat. Lots of people were tricked (and scared) because it looks real.

4. Giving gifts for the older ones and asking gifts for the younger ones. Kids will search for their ninong and ninang (godfather and godmother) in the hope that the latter would give Christmas gifts, which oftentimes are monetized.

3. Christmas parties. Offices prepare for lavish Christmas parties as early as August since bars, hotels and other venues are booked early. More often than not, it will be a costume play as most parties will have themes and you have to dress according to the themes. Groups will unleash their comedic prowess, singing and dancing talents on group presentations. Filipino would work overtime to prepare the props, rehearse and convince the boss to join so as to get audience impact.

2. Simbang gabi (nine early morning masses before Christmas day). Filipinos would try their best to complete these nine consecutive early morning masses in the traditional belief that if they do, their wishes will be granted. Churches are unusually packed during these days. Puto bungbong and bibingka (Filipino delicacies) await Church goers after the mass. People even say that some are only after the food =)

1. Noche Buena on Christmas Eve and Buena Noche on New Year's Eve. Yes, we don't have huge ball dropping at Times Square but firecrackers are everywhere, you'll be deaf after New Year's Eve. And yes, we have food everytime. Be it lavish for the well off families or simple for less fortunate families, families will gather and are expected to be home and should not miss the Christmas Eve dinner. People will kiss and heart warming greetings will flow...

Did I miss out anything?