Christmast at St. Rita’s Orphanage

St. Rita Orphanage Sucat Christmas (1)

 

After our very indulgent Christmas Eve dinner where we stuffed ourselves with all the culinary sins my mom’s hands could make, she decided we spend Christmas day at St. Rita’s Orphanage in Sucat with the kids. We spent her birthday last year at the orphanage, too, and I had a lot of fun interacting with the kids. We brought food, had games, and gave gifts. I had a great time last year so I was looking forward to spending more time with the kids.

I love the kids at St. Rita’s Orphanage. They are sweet and well-behaved. They also cooperate during the games. They ask to be carried, they hold your hand, and they play with you. My theory is that they want more attention than what they get from the sisters running the place.

Surprisingly, St. Rita’s is well-maintained. All the kids have new clothes and footwear. Their beds, rooms, and interiors are clean. It’s all air-conditioned, and one of the rooms even has a TV. But because of the number of kids, only babies are “babied,” and those in advanced years are treated like adults.

One of the kids gravitated towards me during our time there. We’re not allowed to take their pictures, and we’re not allowed to publish their names, but let’s call the kid Rudolph. He wouldn’t participate during the games, so I would encourage him to go back to the group. One time, he was running away and he tripped. Just when he was about to cry, I scooped him up, and he spent the entire afternoon there, and would cry when I put him down. Once, one of the sweet girls sat on my lap and Rudolph cried and pushed her away. When the girl wouldn’t leave my lap, he lay on the floor and didn’t move, even when my brother tried to play with him. Rudolph is the sweetest, he would always offer his cheek to me when I say “Kiss.”

The infants were just as affectionate. We went up to the nursery to visit the younger kids, and as soon as you reach your arms out, they offer theirs in return to be carried. They’re trusting kids and it made me happy to carry them.

The last time we were there, another kid spent the entire time sitting on my lap. I forgot his name, and our photos together are in my broken iPhone (we can take pictures, but we’re not allowed to publicize it). There was also a problem child who wouldn’t participate and would spend the time sitting away from us. When we encourage him to play, he would cry. Right when we were about to leave, he went up to me and sat on my lap. Both kids were gone when I went there for Christmas, which is good because it means a family adopted them and gave them the love they deserve.

Most of the kids during Christmas were new, except for a few (some were just waiting for their paperwork, while others have not been adopted yet). While I’m glad that I got to see them again, it also makes me feel sad because they spent another year in the orphanage.

We spent two hours with the kids, and when we left, a sister had to peel Rudolph off my arms, and he cried as he was being led away. I couldn’t look at him because I was afraid I would cry, too.

 

St. Rita Orphanage Sucat Christmas (2)

 

In the receiving area, a framed copy of the poem Legacy of an Adopted Child is hung on a wall. It’s a heartbreaking poem about the two mothers an adopted child has. I took a photo, but below is a copy in case you can’t read it:

 

Once there were two women who never knew each other,
One – you do not remember, the other you call mother.

Two different lives shaped to make yours,
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.

The first gave you life, and the second taught you to live in it.
The first gave you a need for love and the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality; the other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent; the other gave you an aim.

One gave you emotions; the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile; the other dried your tears.

One gave you up – that’s all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.

Now you ask through all your tears the age-old question through the years;
Heredity or environment – which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling – neither – just two different kinds of love.

 

I’m thinking of visiting them on my birthday. I hope our Christmas visit will become a yearly tradition. I hope you can go visit them and make their day a little special.

Soon, I’ll have my own child, and he or she will come from St. Rita’s. Rudolph, if you’re still there, you’ll be coming home with me.

Meeting my man’s friends at Crisp and Niner Ichi Nana + Why

For my man’s annual Christmas get-together with his college friends, he thought it was a good idea to introduce me to the group.

This year’s get-together was at Crisp, an all-day breakfast restaurant in Bonifacio Global City. I initially thought it was an Asian fusion joint because of the flavors, which were somewhat similar to Pink Panda in Makati. Incidentally, both Crisp and Pink Panda are owned by blogger and restaurateur Erwan Heussaff. Great interiors—unfinished walls paired with bright yellow lamps and patterned tiles.

It turned out to be a surprise for some to meet me, because they thought my man was still single, and because I’m his first everything: date, kiss, lay, boyfriend. So of course, a part of the night was spent grilling (and teasing) us on how we met, what we usually do on dates, and who said “I love you” first.

They played an entertaining round of exchange gift, but theirs was called White Elephant. Basically, you put all gifts in a pile, and you take turns taking one. You can either take a gift from the pile or “steal” what was already taken. There was a really nice Muji pillow (it’s incredibly soft), but my man got traveling bags. His gift was a set of Human Nature products.

 

A bacon-flecked something in Niner Ichi Nana
A bacon-flecked something in Niner Ichi Nana

 

After dinner, we moved to Niner Icher Nana (also co-owned by Heussaff) for drinks, where I had something with bacon flecks staining the glass. I forgot what it’s called or what the liquor was, but it was an okay drink. I think it was whiskey.

 

Niner Ichi Nana's enormous chandeliers
Niner Ichi Nana’s enormous chandeliers

 

Niner was full, so we were seated at Hungry Hound, the partner restaurant. They had these enormous ring chandeliers that dominated the room. It has a little medieval feel to it, but its size makes a very strong statement, and detaches itself from other restaurants that also use wood interiors.

 

The "Why" graffiti in BGC
The “Why” graffiti in BGC

 

On the way home, we passed by this intersection near Forum in 7th Avenue. On one of the signs there, the word “Why” was stenciled at the back. A similar sign exists in Pasig and Makati (I saw one along Dela Rosa while walking to Mom & Tina’s) and it’s a sort of urban mystery, like Banksy. Coconuts Manila was able to interview the guy behind it, but he refused to share his name, what he does, and why he does it.

According to the interview, it’s supposed to be a rhetorical question. Why? Well, why not?

P.S. I need to take more photos to accompany my posts.

Rogue Christmas Party 2014 at Pablo’s

Rogue Christmas Party 2014 (3)

 

For Rogue‘s Christmas party (which was held on the same day of the Philstar Christmas party), we all gathered at Pablo’s Pub and Restaurant in Bonifacio Global City. It’s a Filipino restaurant (I think) with interiors that lie in stark contrast to the unassuming building it’s in. The pub has sexy dark wood interiors and dim lighting. Pablo’s is named after Pablo Escobar, the notorious Colombian drug lord., and the owners reimagined where the drug lord would meet his associates for drinks. And it translated well—spend an evening here and it gives off an illicit but delicious vibe.

 

The Rogue team at the bar
The Rogue team at the bar

 

The dark wood and soft lights are a sophisticated touch, highlighted by the well-lit bar and the bookcases stuffed with tomes. A bookshelf slides to reveal a secret room you can reserve. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take much pictures because we were all bustling around.

 

Beautiful ceiling panels
Beautiful ceiling panels

 

We had a short program introducing the new people, and had a few rounds of charades. We were all divided into three groups and we had to guess the covergirl, which one of our teammates had to act out. I correctly guessed Xandra Rocha (April 2014) and Celine Lopez (July 2013), but we didn’t get the points because I answered Xandra late and Miguel Mari, our creative director who acted out Celine, gave out a clue. But I feel I would still have guessed it without it. That’s how big of a fan I am of the magazine. I acted out Valerie Weigmann (June 2014), which my teammates quickly guessed.

There was also a round of charades for other categories, and it was divinely fun.

After the games, we had an pre-exchange gift gamewhere you have to guess who picked you. If you get it wrong, you have to take a shot of Jack Daniel’s. Naturally, no one guessed it right and everyone got a shot.

 

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During the raffle, I won a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, which I plan to experiment with. Winning a bottle of liquor is probably the most illicit thing I did at Pablo’s. It’s not even bootleg. Escobar would have been disappointed.

The Philippine Star Christmas Party 2014 at Sofitel Manila

I’ve been writing for The Philippine Star for over three years but I haven’t attended a single Christmas party. For some reason, things always seem to come up. This year, nothing was scheduled on the morning of the party, so I was able to make it! This year’s get-together was held at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila (my favorite hotel), and includes the entire Philstar family, from the newspaper itself to Pilipino Star Ngayon and printing.

This year’s theme was Heroes vs. Villains, and I was surprised at how a lot of people went all out in their costumes. According to Kathy, one of the lifestyle section’s sub-editors, there is a large monetary prize for the best costume.

 

Philstar Christmas Party (1)
This guy came in an elaborate Doctor Octopus costume, complete with stuffed Spidey

 

They were having games when I arrived, and there was a great parade of costumes. The Philippine Star had superheroes, Pilipino Star Ngayon had Disney, while printing had Filipino heroes. Of course, the costumes were what you’d expect: Iron Man, Superman, Elsa from Frozen, and a few favorites. There were a few Maleficents in the crowd. The person who stole the show was Doctor Octopus from Spiderman. The guy had those really large tentacles, one of which held a stuffed Spidey. People started taking their photos with him as soon as he came in, and even after I told the winding story of how Voyeur (my attempt at a culture website) rose and fell to Pepe Diokno, our editor-at-large, people were still having their photos taken with him. According to Kathy, he tops himself every year.

 

Ystyle's Reggie Belmonte and Supreme's Tim Yap hosting the Philstar Christmas party
Ystyle‘s Reggie Belmonte and Supreme‘s Tim Yap hosting the Philstar Christmas party

 

The official program was hosted by Supreme and YStyle‘s editors-in-chief Tim Yap and Regina Belmonte. Tim came in a great Iron Man costume while Reggie came as Harley Quinn.

I was seated with the rest of the lifestyle team, many of whom I haven’t met. I was with Supreme (Pepe, assistant editor David Milan, and contributing editor Cate de Leon), plus the folks from YStyle and Young Star. I was seated next to Young Star‘s Marga Buenaventura, who had on these amazing nails featuring art from Warhol, Lichtenstein, Koons, and Mondrian.

Sadly, lunch was served late and I had to go back to Rogue for work. It’s a good thing I had an extra box of puto flan, my gift to my editors, which I ate on my way. It would have been more fun if I ate this in costume, yes?

Art in the Park 2014

Yesterday, I was at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati for this year’s Art in the Park. Art in the Park is the annual gathering of the country’s best galleries for an affordable art fair, capping the price for artworks at P30,000.

The art fair is set in a public park to make it more accessible to everyone. This is Art in the Park’s eight run.

Most of the artworks I saw were priced way below P30,000. The ones I liked cost P5,000, P15,000, and P16,000, but I have plans of commissioning artworks from my artist friends.

The turnout this year was bigger than its previous runs in 2012 and 2013. This year, there were more than 50 booths and it extended to the parking lot of the venue. It was way more crowded this year, too, and though I hate crowds, I’m happy because it means more people are getting interested in art.

I wasn’t able to take a lot of pictures because of the large crowd, but I was fortunate enough to have picked up some stuff along the way. I think ‘along the way’ is an accurate description of how I navigated through Art in the Park. There were parts where it was hard to appreciate the pieces because of the human traffic. Perhaps Trickie Lopa and the team are interested in getting a bigger venue?

My boyfriend and I got matching portraits done by Apol Sta. Maria. He was sharing a table with Rob Cham and theirs was one of the most high-traffic areas in the art fair. No wonder, because Apol was drawing free portraits and Rob was selling his comics.

According to Apol, he can draw you in less than three minutes. I wasn’t able to confirm because Mylene Dizon appeared out of nowhere and started talking to everyone. She was absolutely charming.

I also got a copy of Apol’s A Balut Ate My Luois Vuitton and Rob’s Stories. The two artists have a very distinct sense of humor and style, and both comics were absolutely hilarious.

I also got some of Mano Gonzales’s postcards. I’ve been meaning to get them from him since December, but things keep coming up. We finally met after three months of talking online. I’m also planning to have a few portraits commissioned from him because I like his style and it fits with the decor I’m planning for my room. It’s taking a while because I can’t decide what to have him illustrate. There are so many designs running through my head that I might just end up having him put everything in a single canvas.

My favorite artwork has to be Bale Dutung’s pan de bagnet. It’s slices of crispy bagnet  and KBL (kamatis, bagoong, and lasuna) on slow-toasted ciabatta bread. The bread keeps the juices in so it explodes with every bite. It was so delicious.

I’ve actually wanted to try Claude Tayag’s pan de bagnet since I started covering Art in the Park two years ago for The Philippine Star. However, I always go right after lunch so I’m full by the time I get there. I made it a point to eat a little before going yesterday. I was so hungry by the time I got there that I started seeing slices of bagnet in every artwork I saw.

My boyfriend isn’t into art, but I managed to convince him to come with me. He ended up buying some pins and magnets. This one is my favorite.

I hope more people could come next year. And I hope the organizers could get a bigger venue. Maybe Ayala Triangle?

My features on Art in the Park for The Philippine Star can be found here, here, and here.

Full Gallop.

I was lucky to be invited to the press preview of My Own Mann’s production of Full Gallop, the one woman-play focusing on the life of famed Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. The play is written by Mary Louise Wilson and Mark Hampton, and is set after her firing at Vogue, where she throws a dinner party in the hopes a wealthy guest will finance a magazine of her own. The inimitable Cherie Gil will take on the daunting task of portraying Vreeland.

Diana at her famous apartment, which she calls a garden in hell
The set of Full Gallop

Vreeland is one of fashion’s biggest icons, bringing a fresh and outrageous take to the industry. When she was at Harper’s Bazaar, Vreeland popularized a column called “Why Don’t You?” a list of outrageous suggestions for readers. Some famous examples are “Why don’t you turn your child into an Infanta for a fancy-dress party?” and “Why don’t you wash your blond child’s hair in dead champagne?” She took fashion so seriously that her fashion shoots were set around the world with elaborate and expensive looks.

Vreeland with Richard Avedon, with whom she would bring to Vogue after her stint at Harper’s Bazaar. At her wake, Avedon said, “I went back to Carmel Snow and said ‘I can’t work with that woman. She calls me Aberdeen.’ And Carmel Snow said, ‘You’re going to work with her.’ And I did, to my enormous benefit, for almost 40 years.

At Vogue, she educated readers through travel, using her lavish editorials set in Tahiti, Bali, and other exotic locales. She was fired in 1971, presumably because her shoots were expensive, one of which was estimated to have cost $1 million.

Vreeland at work
Vreeland discussing a project with Truman Capote

And Vreeland is a character. Her razor wit and penchant for storytelling is inspiring, especially so because her stories are peppered with her travels, odd experiences (like seeing a car with gorillas in tailored suits), and thoughts on color, shade, and beauty. Despite being a fashion icon, Diana doesn’t seem to be obsessed with the field. Instead, she talks much about living life. She once quipped, “It’s not about the dress you wear, but it’s about the life you lead in the dress.”

Cherie Gil as Diana Vreeland

Cherie Gil lends herself well as Vreeland. She tastefully portrays the Vogue editor without resorting to caricature. Gil said so herself, after the preview, that she wanted to capture the essence of Vreeland rather than mimic her.

Gil gives a breathtaking performance, and at times touching. Only Gil could successfully bring to life a woman known for her vivacity, then switch to poignancy, and then haughty humor.

Full Gallop only has a limited run, and will be having its last two performances this week. I really hope people could go out and support Gil’s marvelous performance as “the one and only fashion editor.” Full Gallop will be staged at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza. Tickets may be bought at Ticketworld.

Here is my complete review on When In Manila.

PETA’s Rak of Aegis

I was invited to the press night of Rak of Aegis, the closing production of PETA’s 46th season. A few weeks prior, I got to watch the preview, a 20-minute sneak peek of what to expect on the actual run. During the preview, I was already impressed with the vocal prowess of the three leads – Aicelle Santos, Isay Alvarez-Seña, and Robert Seña. But I wasn’t prepared for the brilliance of the actual play.


Rak of Aegis’ curtain call

I was already expecting the electrifying performances of Santos and the Señas, but I got to experience the extent of their vocal range in full that night. I was especially blown away by Robert, whose powerful tenor voice literally gave me the chills. His nuanced performance as Kiel was amazing. At times, Santos was overpowered by Robert and Isay, but their voices are otherworldly so it’s forgivable.

Rak of Aegis is set in Villa Venizia (referencing Venice), a town recovering from a flood. The town is still submerged and local businesses are floundering, but the locals are getting by with the world-famous Filipino spirit. Aileen (Santos) wants to change all that by uploading a video of herself singing, hoping Ellen would discover her and give her money. She instantly becomes a YouTube sensation, and the town capitalizes her singing prowess amidst the tragedy.

It might be poverty porn, but it has bite. It’s mixed with humor, many of which was delivered by Phi Palmos as Jewel (or Joel) and Jerald Napoles as Tolits. Their comic relief was one of the highlights of Rak of Aegis.
My only issue was that it was a little too long.

Because the press night coincided with the opening performance, Aegis was there as special guests. As the cast took their curtain call, the band suddenly appeared on stage, making a dramatic entrance on the boat that was used as one of the props. The set designer actually put a flooded area on the stage to make it look realistic, and boy was it realistic – the water didn’t look clean.

And they broke into song. It was crazy, everybody went crazy. Even the guys who came in blazers went ballistic and sang along to Halik, Basang Basa Sa Ulan, and Luha. Aegis may be masa, but every Filipino knows at least one Aegis song, no matter their socioeconomic status. They have this universal appeal that makes them a guilty pleasure of everyone – bakya or sosyal. As proof, my brother knows Halik and Ulan even though he’s part of the latter group.

The cast of Rak of Aegis


Me with Aicelle Santos and the girls of Aegis
I got to meet the band after! I also found out that my friend’s parents are Aegis’ managers.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for the longest time but I’ve been so busy with things. But you can still catch Rak of Aegis because it will be staged until March 9 at the PETA Theater in Quezon City.