Monthly Archives: November 2015

Friday Photo 119

This gold-trimmed giant of a tree was sighted at SM Aura Premier early this week. I’d call this a Fractal Christmas tree because it has no symmetry and seems to just go on and on.


Celebrating Myself

Yesterday I spent most of the evening out of the house. These days, this is somewhat akin to an astronomical phenomenon that we earthlings get to observe once in a lifetime only. Okay, I exaggerate; but you get the point. I rarely go out on evenings these days, especially on the weekend. But yesterday, I managed to haul myself to the SMX Convention Center at SM Aura in Bonifacio Global City (said journey can also be compared to space travel) to attend the awards ceremony of BloggysPH (or the Philippine Blogging Awards).

It’s because this humble blog of mine made it as finalist in the Personal Blog category.

The letter of invitation set the time at 5PM so I made sure I was at the venue an hour before. At 4:15 I went to SMX (which is inside the mall) but found the organizers still setting up. So I decided to do a little window shopping at first. I came back at 10 minutes before 5PM and I saw a couple of long-ish queues to the registration table. It was fairly chaotic because they decided to separate the queue of the finalists from the bloggers and guests after the people have lined up. I had to change queues a couple of times and when I finally signed in, we were told to wait for further instructions before coming in the function room. I found this to be an omen of how things will proceed from that point.

When we finally entered the function rooms, the first to greet us were the booths from the sponsors but only the ABS-CBN booth seemed mildly interesting. Apparently there’s a series of games/ tasks that one needed to complete and among those who did, 3 prizes will be given. I quickly left it after I was forced to take a photo wearing a headdress that looked dingy. I think I was too old to play that game.

I made my way to a seat, close to the bar. But the drinks they were serving were limited so after one weak cocktail, I didn’t return to the bar. The program started much later than the schedule so I said goodbye to my plan of being home at 9PM.

scenes at the event

scenes at the event

Things improved when they started giving out the awards. Primarily because the emcee, an Australian guy who spoke fluent Tagalog, was very engaging. Going to the ceremony, I had no expectations that I would win. Making it to the list of finalists, was a feat enough for me. I am not sure if many people can relate to the posts of this blog. Still, as the night went on, I found myself gradually wanting to win the award, to claim it as my own.

I even formulated an acceptance speech in my head. After thanking the awarding body and the readers of this blog, I planned to say, “I have been blogging for more than 10 years and this recognition was the farthest thing on my mind when I started blogging. So this is such a huge and pleasant surprise. Writing is almost always a solitary undertaking but discovering a community like this is certainly welcome.”

The last statement was especially true for me. When I was blogging in Cambodia, I was regularly corresponding with other Filipino gay bloggers who were living in the States, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. But I never met any of them, except for the one based here. I could feel a strong sense of community in the gathering, at least from those who appeared to know each other. Bloggers even collaborate in projects, this I know. However, I am uncertain if this is for me.

When the time for my category came, I was happy and calm. All expectations were gone. I just concentrated on climbing on the stage without tripping a la Jennifer Lawrence, shaking the hands of the judges, and smiling for the camera. The winner of my category didn’t not attend the event, and for a moment I had a flickering desire to go to the mic and deliver the speech in my head. If only I were that bold.

Back at home as I prepared to go to bed, I looked at my certificate and felt glad I attended the event. The conduct of the event at the start was somewhat inept, but over-all I think it was a success. If they can improve the secretariat services and start on time, it will be perfect.

And finally, THANK YOU to those who nominated me for the award in the first place, to the supporters who promoted this blog in their networks, and to the readers who have stayed with me and the various incarnations of my blog.

Friday Photo 118

Hope springs eternal, as this Christmas tree demonstrates.


Recently seen movie: Burnt

I like watching movies about food, cooking, and chefs because I find the experience of portraying food as luxurious, sexy, and ultimately universal always rewarding. It’s like being fed on many levels–physical, emotional, even spiritual. Of course, cinematic cooking is always a visual feast, from food preparation to plating and its consumption.

“Burnt” would have slipped through my radar if not for the recommendation of a friend, who herself is studying to be a chef in Singapore. When I saw that this movie’s lead is Bradley Cooper, I heaved another sigh of thanks. Why? Because Bradley Cooper is gorgeous! The perfect guy to photograph with perfect-looking food.


the gorgeous and tortured chef

As it happened, however, “Burnt” is the only food-related movie I had seen where I didn’t pay much attention to the food. Make no mistake, the food being prepared everywhere in this movie looked delicious and perfectly presented. Unfortunately I was immediately seduced by extremely talented but flawed Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) and how this character played against the people around him like his friend Tony (the wonderful Daniel Bruhl), colleague/ rival Reece (Matthew Rhys), protegee David (Sam Keeley), and sous chef/ lover Helene (Sienna Miller).

I found myself relating to and identifying with him as the story unfolded on the screen. At the end of the movie, I had cried and laughed and cringed at the things that happened to him.

Hours later, as I was having coffee while waiting for my friends to show up, the story of Adam Jones was still in my mind. So much so that I proceeded to write things on my planner, in order to process perhaps, the feelings I was feeling that time. I realized the story resonated so much to me because it touched on themes that for the past years have weighed heavily on my post-clinical depression life here in Manila.

These interlocking and interconnected themes include Redemption, because Adam Jones’s back story was that he wasn’t able to handle success very well that he turned to vice (drugs), resulting in self-destructive behavior that affected all around him. He then ran away for a period then returned to reclaim his lost glory.

Another is Recovery, because getting back into the saddle is harder than falling off of it. The movie showed that each time one decides to change his life for the better, one has to completely say good-bye to his old life, often including the people you know in that old life. Adam Jones wasn’t really okay (even if appearances showed otherwise) until he sought the help of others, which was very difficult for him to do because doing this will  stir up issues relating to the theme of Trust.

This is trust in many levels: trusting the self, trusting other people, and allowing one’s self to be trusted by others again. Trust is tightly linked to another theme, which is Friendship. Adam’s friendships are the gateways to the milestones he must reach on the way to being well. Because for one to truly move on, old debts must be repaid first. For a friendship to last, it requires a lot of work. Some friendships are borne out of a fierce rivalry (Reece), of hero-worship (David), or of animosity (Helene). And in the case of Tony, unrequited love is always returned–one way or another.

Everyone has been betrayed by a friend at one point, I realized. I don’t have the monopoly to horrendous friends.

If you’re still reading at this point, let me apologize because this movie review doesn’t sound like a movie review anymore.

The movie entertained me. Kudos to the deft direction of TV veteran John Wells (ER, The West Wing). But this is how the movie affected me. And it felt like something I could share to anybody who has hit rock bottom and who’s still trying to get right back up.

Catch “burnt” at the cinema and see if it exerts the same effect on you.

Friday Photo 117

Christmas is really around the corner, even if we cannot feel the cool weather yet. Blame that on El Nino and on climate change. A few days ago I went to the mall to buy a bit of ornaments for our tree. I have already decided on a color theme. I was looking for ornaments that would fit my theme. While browsing I took a few shots of the trees in the mall. I call this the Katy Perry Christmas Tree because it reminded me of her sugary confection-filled music video.