On the Bookshelf: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room is one of the very few books that I judged by its cover.

It was white, with only the title and author’s name written across the front using a multicolored childish-handwriting font.

It was a refreshing sight from all the vampire-themed young adult books that dominate the display cases these days. Room looked like a light read, Fully Booked was on sale, and I had gift cards to spend. I grabbed a copy right away.

Upon entering the story, all you know is that to a kid named Jack, Room was the entire world, and this is where he lives with his Ma. You can see that he is happy with the arrangements,  his whole day mapped out for him, with meals and play and treats toward the end of every week. The story progresses and, together with Jack, you find out more about this tiny, highly structured world that he lives in.

You find out that to his Ma, Room was not the whole world; it’s  a prison. You find out about Old Nick, his regular visits, and that Jack should always, always be in the closet when Old Nick arrives.

Immediately you find yourself trying to read faster to answer all the “Why??”s.

The story was written in Jack’s point of view. This, I feel, is what really drew me in. You see, Jack is five years old. It was amazing, how Donoghue wrote the entire thing using his voice and made it sound convincing. Peppered with toddler-isms, I felt like Jack really was talking me through the whole story. The narration had the attention span of a toddler as well, one minute eavesdropping on adult conversations that revealed important plot turners, the next he’d be thinking about how much he needed to poo, and you’d go all “Aww, come on Jack FOCUS!”.

While the first half felt like a suspense thriller, room is not so much an escape story as much as it is an unconventional portrayal of a mother-and-child bond, and a socio-psychological commentary of survival and growth.

Through Jack’s entertaining narration, the plot points unfold gradually. Donoghue’s writing gives you enough details yet still left much to the imagination. I don’t know about you, but personally, love it when an author let’s you think for yourself instead of being tongue-in-cheek. It makes me feel like she thinks her readers are smart enough to piece the plot together.

Audrey Niffeneger’s review said “Room is a book to read in one sitting. When its over, you look up: The world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days.” I agree with her completely; I felt the same way after I was done with it.

This post doesn’t do the book any justice, but I must say, it’s one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a long time. If you liked Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and Anne Frank, you just might like this one too.

Find out more about Room the book here.

2012: Quarter-Life Crisis Year

When the clock struck twelve last New Year’s Eve, one of my very first thoughts was “I’m turning twenty-five this year. Twenty-five. A quarter of a century.” 

Needless to say, it threw me into a fit of panic. A slew of questions wouldn’t stop nagging me, questions like “What do I want with my career?” “Why am I not a manager yet?” “Why don’t I have a freaking car yet? Or my own place?” “Do I want kids? Marriage? Oh good lord please don’t make me think about marriage. If I want kids, I should get them before I’m thirty because it’s hard to conceive past that age right? But if I want a baby by the time I’m thirty, I should take all the risks I want and travel the WORLD like…NOW. Unless I go for adoption, which is a wholly different story. ”

ANYWAY. I digress.

Point is, I have realized, now more than ever, that time time really does fly. Thus I made a solemn promise to myself that I will make this year count, in terms of career plans and personal growth.

And so, I dub 2012 as my Quarter Life Crisis Year. Join me on my anti-aging obsessions, home and body makeovers, travel plans and other such panicky things expected from a twenty-five year old girl trying to keep up with this fast paced world.

2012 will be amazing. Whatever the stars say, I will make it so.

2011 Wrap-Up!

When 2011 began, Feng Shui and Chinese astrology enthusiasts claimed that it was going to be a bad year for Strong Metal Rabbits, which, according to my birth date, is what I am.

I respect astrology in general, and I take note of the warnings, but I refused to let that dictate how my year was going to go. The two previous years were already bad enough, there is no way I was going to let 2011 be as bad.

Surprisingly enough, 2011 has been one of the best years of my 24-year-old existence.

If 2009 was Breakup Year, and 2010 was my Wildchild Year, 2011 is the Career Year. For the first time ever, I finally felt like my life had direction and purpose. Majority of the note-worthy events that happened the past year was work-related. I suppose I was just hell-bent on proving to everyone that I made the right choice when I decided to forego being a professional nurse and try my luck with something else that made my first year in the corporate world a rather exciting one. (At least, for me.)

Why my 2011 was a blast? Let me count the ways.

I joined the corporate world.

– Being a licensed nurse, everyone who knew me expected me to fly abroad and get rich off of nursing. I was a pretty decent nurse (I think?) but a few months of practicing the profession made it clear that being good at something didn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be happy doing it.

From RN to Sales & Marketing

I didn’t exactly plan on seeking a new career, nor did I actively look for a different path, but the opportunity for change landed on my lap (thank you Karmela Dua and Stella Alamil), and I was smart enough to take it. There’s room for improvement, sure, but overall I am now happier in my professional life than I ever thought I’d be.

I got regularized in three months. 

– Fuckyeah. If that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is.

Best letter I've ever received.

I managed a band.

– I am not a musician, but I do love music and I think I know a good song when I hear one. I’ve never really “managed” anything before this either, so when I got the offer, I was rather hesitant to do it.

I did it anyway. Unfortunately, we recently lost two members (one from health reasons, and another from family reasons), crippling the band entirely. The remaining members decided to go on hiatus in the meantime while we searched for worthy replacements.

Band-ing around

BUT, I just might resume this role soon. Good things await the band this 2012, stay tuned. 😉

I got inked.

– I had a fear of permanence, probably rooted to being afraid of long-term commitment. I thought I’d get a nose ring first before I’d get a tattoo (and mind you, I hate facial piercings), since I can easily get rid of piercings if I didn’t want them anymore. But…well. Things change, don’t they?

I’m rather happy with my first tattoo though, even if nobody can seem to tell that it’s a fox at first glance.

It's a fox, not a gumamela.

I got the first bill under my own name.

– Huzzah for one further step into independence and adulthood! I subscribed to a Globe post-paid plan, landing a purple Blackberry along with it. That’s one thing off the The Great Splurge List  too.

Say hello to Halle Blackberry

I finally got my iTouch.

–  I don’t fracking care if everyone’s getting psyched over Siri, I’ve never been much of an iPhone fan. Helena, my six-year-old 5th Gen iPod Video’s 30GB is no longer enough to contain all the new music I’ve accumulated in the past few years.

This is yet another thing off The Great Splurge List. Thank you, 13th month pay.

And this one here is Anna Molly

I [kinda] tried an extreme sport.

 I attempted to ride a longboard. It was just once,  and I didn’t do much, but I didn’t die so that’s still an achievement for me.

Pretentious lang ako

I organized a corporate event. 

– This damned event defined my whole September, the most stressful, albeit most productive month of my year. I learned Photoshop, PR skills, and organizational techniques in a span of four weeks, all for this one, day-long event.

My stress alopecia acted up during the planning phase of this thing, but it was all worth it in the end. And hey, the company CEO commended us for our good work so all’s well that ends well.

He knows my naaaame T_T

I flew domestic for the first time ever.

– I’ve been to Canada and back, but I’ve never traveled domestically outside of Luzon. I’ve always wanted to, but I never had the resources to do so.

Last October, I flew to Davao for a business trip, and I’ll be going back there this January. Flight and accommodation all paid for by ze company.

And people expect me to go back to nursing? HAH.

Aaaand lastly….

I went from open dating to exclusivity.

Some time ago I wrote about an Unexpected Kiss. I thought that wouldn’t result into anything, because he never followed-through.

Several months later though…

Da who ang boylalou?

Oh dear. What have I gotten myself into? Hahaha!

So cheers, to the year of taking chances and leaping before looking. May 2012 be as exciting as its predecessor. I’m looking forward to a whole lot of things this 2012…but that’s for a different post.

Happy New Year, y’all! ^o^V

Last-Minute Christmas Shopping For the Girlfriends

Christmas is arguably the most expensive time of the year, what with the multitudes of holiday parties and exchange gift sessions that you have to engage in and all the inaanaks that seem to crawl out of the woodwork after months of non-contact, asking for their aguinaldo. (This is another story.)

This, plus the fact that road and human traffic during the Christmas season seems to triple, makes Christmas shopping seem more likely to turn you to a Grinch than raise your holiday spirits.

SO. I almost always end up buying something similar (in bulk) for everyone, to save both time and money. I make up for it by getting them something a little more personal on their birthdays. :))

BUT HEY. I TRY not to get anything TOO generic or passe. They may all be similar, but they’re always something passably stylish or useful. Or both. (Err…I hope.)

This year’s panic-shopping haul: statement accessories.

In my humble opinion, accessorizing is something that a lot of Pinays could improve on. Being a third world country, accents and little things like these are the least of our priorities when we have bills to pay and mouths to feed. I’m personally horrified at the idea of spending more than PHP 200 on accessories. I s’pose this is because I’m used to Quiapo-and-Divisoria prices, which are my go-to places for tipid-shopping.

Anyway, sharing with you some of my finds during my last panic-buying session:

1) Statement Necklace + Earrings Set: They’re bright and bold and can instantly add some color to plain outfits.
Wallet Damage: PHP 80-100/set (gift box not included)

2. Charm bracelets: With safe colors and just a hint of sparkle, these bracelets go well with daily office wear or even casual garb.
Wallet Damage: PHP 50-100/piece (gift box not included)

3. Cocktail rings: You see them all over Tumblr and Lookbook. Cocktail rings can instantly make an outfit seem more polished.
Wallet Damage: PHP 25-50/piece (gift-box not included)

Optional: Gift boxes. Yep, Quiapo has ’em too. For people like me who don’t have the skill patience for gift-wrapping, these are perfect for you. Just re-pack the goods and you’re all set.
Wallet Damage: PHP 10-15/box

Ready for distribution!

Bear in mind though, that since they’re not too costly, I couldn’t say much about their durability. That isn’t to say that they will break after a few uses, but they wouldn’t last years either. They’re not too bad for daily use though!

I hope the girlfriends liked their presents! ^o^

Revisiting My Kikay Self

This year is probably the first time I’ve ever heard of a Sodexo.

Oo na, I live under a rock. >_<

Apparently, these were gift cheque-like things that you can use almost anywhere (they have a wide variety of partners stores). I got my first one during our company Christmas party last week.

And this is where I spent mine on:

Cosmo December 2011 Issue, Marionnaud Premium Slanted Blush Brush, Eyeshadow Brush and Slanted Brush, In2It Pink Alert Palette and a variety of accessories

I’ve been a little too petiks lately to really bother dressing up and do my makeup properly. Recent pow-wow sessions with my lady friends have reminded me that I still am a girl, and may need to keep myself looking like one lol.

So, I added some new tools to the trade. Le girl bible Cosmo, Marionnaud Premium brushes, a pretty new palette from In2It and other pretty, shiny things.

Can I just say, I’m a little disappointed with Cosmo; it’s not telling me anything I didn’t already know. Sad, because I used to devour its pages.

But then again, being the Internet troll that I am, hardly anything on printed magazines these days are new to me.

Very happy with everything else. Many thanks to Nicole and Liz for the recommends, the brushes and palette have been very useful! Will be experimenting quite a lot with these babies over the holidays.

Did you get anything awesome recently? 🙂

Peanut butter is not just for kare-kare.

Let it be said that I enjoy food.

I’m not really fussy as to where, or whether or not the food is made from gourmet ingredients.  Hello, I grew up on street food sold around the UST area; my stomach isn’t really sensitive to things like, say, cholera. (I KID.) Be it plain ol’ isaw from the kanto vendors to unpronounceable French dishes, as long as they agree with my uncomplicated taste buds and budget, you can call me a happy foodie.

I’m not a cook nor a culinary specialist either so don’t expect very detailed comments from me. BUT I did grow up to my mother’s cooking, which is quite excellent. I think I know good food when I taste it.

Enter Peanut Butter Co., a small-ish restaurant along the Ground Floor of Mall of Asia’s North Parking building. From the outside, you can see the minimalist white-and-brown interior, past a display case of various “flavored” peanut butter jars.

Photo credit: dessertcomesfirst.com

Despite its placement in a traffic-heavy location (right outside SM Hypermarket!), I’ve never seen it full. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the notion of eating actual ulam seasoned with peanut butter (that isn’t kare-kare) IS pretty sketchy. However, being the peanut butter fan that I am, things like “chili peanut butter” and “green tea peanut butter” piqued my interest further instead of dampening it.

I’ve been meaning to try the place out since September, but time and budget constraints hindered me from doing so. I was finally able to try it out after a particularly bad day at work, to give myself a bit of comfort.

Majority of their menu consisted of a variety of sandwiches, from the familiar Peanut Butter & Jelly to the more adventurous choices like Crunchy Sardine Jelly Sandwich. If you want something heavier (though I hear their sandwiches are rather generous in size), you can always choose from their pasta or rice dishes, and a few side dishes like wings and potato chips (mojos).

Starving as we were, my good friend and I opted to go for a pasta dish and the chicken wings.

Le Appetizer: BBQ Chicken Wings (PHP 125 for 3 pcs)

Their chicken wings are cooked in classic sweet-smoky barbecue sauce, drizzled with chili peanut butter to give it that zing. Maybe I’m biased towards peanut butter, but I honestly think that the chicken and barbecue sauce went well with the nutty taste. I can see myself getting a box (or five) for movie night.

If you’re into sweat-inducing Buffalo style wings, this may not be the best choice for you since it isn’t really all that spicy. For someone like me, whose tolerance for spicy things is quite meager, this is actually perfect.

Le Main Course: Chicken Curry Spaghetti (PHP 150)

Curry would be a pretty safe choice to start with if it’s your first time trying Peanut Butter Co., since nutty tastes blend in well with curry and wouldn’t be too weird.

Their noodles were cooked just right, surprisingly firm even, and not overcooked the way some establishments are guilty of doing. The peanut butter added a rich, creamy sort of texture to the curry sauce, making it a hearty entree. It would’ve tasted better with a stronger curry taste and more sili in my opinion though.

Presentation: Presentation-wise, their entrees are pretty much fuss-free. They’re all served in ready-to-go cartons (similar to Yellow Cab’s takeout boxes), which I found convenient and environment friendly.

Price Range: PHP 100-200 per person. Pwede nuts!

Serving Size: Err. Well, my friend and I shared both the pasta and wings, and left the place with no more room for dessert. I suppose the serving size is good enough for two persons of average appetites!

I am annoyed at the limited capacity of my stomach that made me feel too full to try out their sweets but overall, I’m pretty happy with my experience here so far. I’m definitely going back to try out their other stuff.

Holler if you wanna come with!

“The Godpapu” Bags 4-peat Award for MCC

In the company I work for, the Christmas party is the most anticipated event of the year. Every year the event organizers come up with a theme, and a competition that goes along with it. All three business units come up with a presentation aligned with the theme, and they compete for the ultimate prize.

Now, what you must understand is that there is a certain amount of pressure to win the presentation. Our BU has won the competition for three consecutive years, making them undefeated champions of the annual Christmas parties.

This year’s theme: Oscars Film Awards Night. The competition: a short film.

It took several brainstorming sessions, coming up with spoofs for romantic comedies, horror flicks and even Memoirs of a Geisha. We scrapped all the ideas we came up with, thinking none of them were award-winning at all. I proposed the idea of using The Godfather, with our big boss (whom we fondly called “Papu”) playing the Don, but sadly, none of the original members of the committee were too psyched with that idea either, so we scrapped that too.

And then, just when we already made the consensus NOT to join at all, the big boss heard of The Godfather idea and was all for it. Apparently, he’s a HUGE fan of the iconic classic. Very much so that he agreed to playing our version Don Corleone, as long as he didn’t have to memorize lines. He didn’t even object when he found out we’ve been calling him “Papu” behind his back all this time. He came up with the main “plot” of the short film as well, offered his place for the shoot  itself and even tweaked the script a little as we went along.

Our official poster. We have an Italian version too, entitled "Il Papudrino"

It was a last-minute project, involving a day-long shoot and several days worth of sleepless nights of editing. Several shots of Jack had to be consumed for our cast to get the Italian accent right.

Confidence boosters!

Admittedly, it was rather rushed, so none of us really expected to win. We had a blast making it though and we made a load of hilarious memories in the process. It was something of a bonding experience for us, being the first time we “hung out” with our big boss in his own territory, and caught a glimpse of his non-work personality.

The Consiglieri, The Don and The Pet

Dramatic shots courtesy of Melabear, and Leme Cam

We spent a huge chunk of the shoot giggling at the idea that The Godpapu’s pet is a wooden elephant.

Say hello to Dumbo

TOO FUNNY OMG

Win or lose, we all agreed that this project held a special place in our hearts.

BUT it seems that our attempts at being artsy were well-appreciated by the competition’s judges. We bagged four awards for our short film, including Best Trailer, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and the grand prize for Best Picture.

Congratulations to the Familia!

Pressure’s on for next year, then. The tradition lives on! Congratulations to the team!