Friday, March 31, 2006

condoms, anyone?

you know you are in a liberal city/country when -->

you see a condom dispenser in the restroom.

my curiosity was piqued, however, by the fact that breath mints were being sold in this dispenser alongside condoms: one studded, the other flavored. there's strawberry, banana, and what? sundae? condom-flavored sundae?

oh canada!

(taken inside a public restroom at the montreal airport)


'philippines' on my tv

and no, i am not talking about my subscription to TFC.

mention of the 'philippines' happen only on cnn, msnbc and the other major news networks here if there are a) natural calamities; b) man-made calamities; c) coup plots and d) a combination of sorts so it was a welcome surprise for me tonight when i tuned in to my idiot box and catch a mention of dear old philippines not once, but twice!

first up was on will and grace. and it went like this:

guest (to karen walker): and where is your husband?
karen walker: my husband is in the philippines. i love filipinos. they are asians but they are not cocky.


on The OC. oliver called me up to tell me that a friend of his is appearing on the show. and he asked me to go to fox' website to 'rave' about his friend's role so it would become recurring.

mrs. cooper (to maid, who looks perplexed): vamonos. (and a host of spanish words, she was obviously in the frame of mind that her maid is mexican, or latina in general)
maid: (in a heavily accented twang) i am from the philippines!

whopee! a filipina character on tv! a filipina actress playing the role of a filipina maid in newport beach! how realistic! it would've been better if the role was for a nurse. but then, the OC does not need a nurse. i know which shows need nurses, lots of them. grey's anatomy!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

false advertising

i am a big fan of sukiyaki. yes, that famous japanese dish of thinly-sliced beef, simmered in a skillet or pan with sukiyaki sauce, vegetables and other ingredients.

it has been awhile since i last had my fill (last week of january, with a couple of friends in little tokyo after watching a concert at the walt disney concert hall. digression.) and i have been craving for it somehow.

back in montreal, my feet brought me to place ville marie -- a cruciform-shaped building in the heart of downtown -- and came across a restaurant aptly named sukiyaki. excitedly, i fell in line, the thought of simmering beef already consuming my mind. the french-speaking asian manning the counter asked me what i wanted. so i said, 'sukiyaki.' he said, 'oui'.

i took a french class in college so i know what oui meant. (even if i did not take that class, i would still know what oui meant, i was just saying that i know the basics of the language. merci.) long pause. realizing that there was confusion somewhere, he asked me again. 'your order?' so i said, 'sukiyaki' and he said, 'yes, this is sukiyaki.' goodness.

bottomline. sukiyaki does not serve sukiyaki. it serves other stuff (strangely NOT japanese) except sukiyaki. damn.

sukiyaki. not.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

montréal winter solstice

the view from above. snow-blanketed city. i thought to myself: isn't it spring already? can i take this bitter cold?

hah. the requisite 'welcome to montreal' sign at the airport.

wide open space at the immigration and customs area. the immigration officer who interviewed me was very kind and friendly.

the museum of contemporary arts aka musée d'art contemporain in front of the complexes desjardins. a hill of snow is dumped a few meters from the museum's entrance.

hotel de ville (montreal city hall) along rue notre dame, a very fine piece of architecture that is way too common along the streets of montreal. a few blocks down is old montreal, a well-preserved area of the city where older-looking establishments such as art galleries and quiant restaurants abound.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

second cup*

(that's the name of a coffee place that i visited today. i think it's even more famous than starbucks here. i got the moka chocolat blanc and it was yummy. their apple and raisin super muffin was also delicious. full. i'll try the other coffee places tomorrow like the cafe van houtte, cafe depot, and maybe, cafe starbucks coffee. that's how they call dear ol' starbucks here. a bit redundant, eh? canadians.)

i never learn. it's 3:40 am here and i am wide awake. just like last night (earlier this morning). besides, it's only 12:40 am in california. hah. because of that mentality, i woke up around 10:00 am here and i wanted to wake up earlier (like maybe around 9, okay 8) so i can have breakfast, or as my canadien friends say, dejeuner) but no, i could not make myself wake up. by 10:20 this morning, i was threatening myself to wake up, or else waste a very beautiful day.

it's all about walk, walk, walk for me today. which is good. the weather is so fine (6 C; can't convert to F. lol) so it was very conducive for walking. and even if it got really, really cold, montreal has found a solution for that.

ta-da! no, they did not fight mother nature. they created an option. the underground city. at first, i was like, 'what? underground city?' and images of dingy, rat-infested, basement-type environment flashed in my mind. i was so damn wrong.

montreal has an underground city! very much the same city anywhere else. except that this one is underground. it is said that if winter gets really freaking cold, people have an option to dine, shop, see the opera, go to church or watch a hockey game (their national pasttime) without putting on their winter coats. thanks to the network of underground malls that have shops and boutiques and restaurants.

so now, this underground city has more than 29 kilometers (okay, 18 miles) of wide, well-lit and well-ventilated tunnels clustered around 10 of the Metro's (Montreal's train system) 65 stations.

did a lot of stuff today as i walked a million miles. of course, i did not walk a million miles, it just feels like i did. and my feet are complaining. oh well.

(photos to follow. i forgot to bring my cord.)


Friday, March 24, 2006

hello, montreal

i'ts past 2 in the morning and i can't sleep yet. my mind's in west coast time, so it's still 11 pm. and i usually sleep around 2. which means i might be able to go to sleep around 5 am here? ouch. not good.

so my connecting flight from chicago to montreal went well. it was a small plane. the same planes that philippine airlines uses for its flight to tuguegarao, cagayan or mindoro or laoag. maybe even smaller. 18 rows. 1 seat + aisle + 2 seats. that's it. so 54 passengers per flight. and only one poor over-worked flight attendant.

montreal's airport is nice and clean. their customs area is huge, like the one in hong kong. the people manning the counters seemed courteous, especially the one i had (or the one who had me. hah!) very friendly.

i am staying at the 4-diamond (according to their website) marriott montreal chateau champlain and the nice lady at the reception desk gave me a huge and nice room with a view of the mount royal. factoid: the name montreal evolved from this hill in this island, which natives call mount royal. through the years, the name evolved into montreal.

first meal of the day: i checked all the touristy websites and they all recommended this place called schwartz. it's a hole-in-the-wall steakhouse (maison du bifteck) where the original world-famous smoked meat is served. i took the metro and a connecting bus along st. laurent and voila, i had one of the yummiest sanwiches i've had in recent years. it was uhm, uhm, good. it was around 8ish already and the place was still packed with people and it was a good mix of locals and tourists, which was good. i also had their cott's dark cherry soda to go with my smoked meat. glorious!

had some adventures finding my way around the metro and the stops. it was fun finding my way around in a very foreign place. it's nice that i had no idea what to expect during this trip so everything that's happening so far is above par, especially since i had no expectations whatsoever.

gotta learn the map so i won't be wasting time tomorrow. ciao!


chicago = cold

I’m on a 90-minute stop-over in, of all places, Chicago. I’m actually waiting for my connecting flight to Montreal for this little holiday made possible by a hundred and fifty dollar gift by Expedia.

I haven’t had a decent sleep since last night because my friend J (Thanks again!) picked me up around 4 to bring me to the airport. While this was an international trip, the flight would be taking off from the American Airlines terminal, not at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Little did I know that I could not use their self-service machines (because I am going on an international trip). I was told to proceed to the ‘main cabin’ check-in. Last time I was here, I missed my flight. I swear I was having a déjà vu moment.

Only a few counters were open, so service was kinda slow. Thank God it was seamless from then on as I got my boarding pass from a nice lady.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006


the fine people at expedia rewarded me last christmas with a $150 gift coupon for my loyalty to them in the past.

fast foward to february. i got an email from them telling me that i have until march 31 to use the coupon, or lose it forever. ouch.

so i mega browsed their site and limited my choices down to 2. hawaii and canada. canada won. where? vancouver or toronto? neither.

this week i am going to montreal. yay! i am excited about this trip since this is my first time to visit beautiful canada. i'll bring my laptop so i can blog while i'm there. promise!


Sunday, March 19, 2006

urth day

urth has been one of my favorite coffee places in california since the moment i was introduced to it five or so years ago. and i have been going back with different sets of friends eversince.

the cafe is a cool place that serves organic coffee and tea, plus delicious desserts such as my favorites: triple layer cheesecake (chocolate, vanilla and coffee over an oreo crust. yum!) and oreo cheesecake eaten while sipping spanish latte. life. fulfilled.

their cheesecakes are better than cheesecake factory's, and that is saying a lot. my friends and i usually frequent their melrose branch. it was a surprise then to find out that they have a branch in beverly hills as well. and after a meeting in beverly hills last week, my lady boss brought me to urth along beverly drive.

it was a pleasant surprise. the branch is bigger than the one on melrose, hence more intimate. we were also introduced to one of the managers of the cafe, who happens to be pinoy. he told us about the hollywood stars who frequently visit the beverly hills branch. nice!

urth caffe's delectable desserts are on display at the counter, the first thing that would welcome you upon entering the cafe.


Friday, March 17, 2006

i am so going to hell...

one of the usual sites i visit slash read on a daily visit is cnn's.

and then i came across this article, and i tried, tried so hard, to suppress a smile (because of the oh-so-tragic content of the news) but the way it was presented was just, how do i say it, begging for the reader to do something that would automatically provide him a one-way ticket to hell.

and i thought filipinos love pageants. how come there's no miss deaf philippines? texas is far ahead. just a thought: could they also have a miss blind texas? or a miss mute texas?

must. supress. smile.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

goodbye melissa

hay! there is justice in this world.

after mangling the lyrics of 'lately' by stevie wonder FIRST in front of stevie himself and SECOND during the actual performance, melissa mcghee is dunzo. she totally messed up the lyrics, specially during the 'i hope my premonition misses...' part. boo-hoo.

but ace and lisa in the bottom 3? what's going on? hate it that kevin covais was not in the bottom 3. he better do well next week, or else he's gone. but the thing is, he is fully sipported by the votefortheworst website, the same site that "helped" scott savol and john stevens and jasmine trias stay longer than they should have during their stint in the competition.

one more reason why i don't like mcghee. she robbed ayla brown of the opportunity to be in the top 12. had it been ayla who made it to the final 12, i think she wouldn't have gotten the boot. but then again, who knows.

okay. so who goes home in the weeks to come? kevin covais, bucky covington, kellie pickler. i think.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

top 12

quite belated, but here's american idol season 5's top 12 finalists. now that sounded redundant. the finalists.

nice photo stolen from just jared. so how did i fare with my fearful predictions a month ago?

on the girls' side. 5 out of 7. we bade goodbye to stevie and ayla. oh ayla. why is melissa mcghee still on my screen?

on the boys' side. 4 out of 7. buh-bye to patrick hall, sway penala, will makar and to some point, daniel radford. bucky and kevin covais made it. too bad.

okay. final four predictions: katharine mcphee, mandisa, chris daughtry & elliot yamin. that's all for now.


deaths galore @ 24

normally, a main character's death in a show defines an entire season. case in point: six feet under.

in fact, some shows end their run after 10 or so years WITHOUT someone in the main cast dying. case/s in point: friends, sex and the city, felicity.

but with the current season of 24, members of the main cast are dying by the episode.

tonight's latest episode was not different. edgar stiles, chloe's dear friend and one of CTU's hard-working employees died when he was left out in the open to breathe toxic nerve gas. (although his death "happened" in the prior episode)

so who else died tonight? SPOILER ALERT.

the hobbit is dead. yes, lynn mcgill is tonight's sacrificial lamb. his death was not in vain as he is the reason why jack bauer is still alive. and why we still have a show. teehee.

so okay, i am fine with his death, specially since he has been acting like an a*hole lately. but what i couldn't accept (it came as a shock!) was the death of tony almeida. and it happened during the last two minutes of the episode. damn.

okay, body count!

first episode saw the killing of former president david palmer, then agent michelle dessler, then chief of staff walt cummings. that's a total of six major deaths. and the 40% of CTU employees who were killed by the nerve gas. damn, damn. all in the name of national security. tough job.

makes me wonder if there's gonna be a season 6.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

to san francisco and back

i needed to sort things out, so i made a really quick trip to san francisco.

i wish.

i had work to do and i was dragged to go to san francisco. now that's more like it.

met with some clients for lunch at palio d'asti, an upscale italian resto in downtown sf. i was in the mood for some seafood so i ordered the cioppino. [Ciupin alla Genovese - Fisherman's Stew with Lobster, Crab, Mussels, Clams, Prawns, Octopus and a Variety of Fish in a Saffron Tomato Broth with Grilled Acme Bread - $31.00]

plus my soup and my drink, that was an almost $50 lunch. whew. thank god i was not paying. haha. i would have gone to yoshinoya instead.

dinner was at this awesome new place at the union landing in union city.

it had a sports bar by the entrance. the servers were a good mix of asians (mostly filipinos), hispanics and caucasians. the feel and the interior was like BJ's but a bit different. how different?

the difference was in the food. we ordered salpicao. i love salpicao. theirs was not as good as the ones i had in manila but passable. and what else did they have?

garlic tilapia. which is like the tilapia we buy at the filipino store, the ones that we ask the manongs to deep fry for us. because doing that in our respective apartments would require a lot of hardwork. and a bunch of angry neighbors. what else?

their specialty, but of course. grilled squid. with their sweet and tasty marinade. yumyum. the place?

gerry's grill. yes, the famous filipino restaurant that slayed dencio's. the famous inuman place among the yuppies in metropolitan manila is now in the us of a. according to the owner, they opened gerry's grill in union city last friday. business has been picking up since then. at first they were serving sisig but they noticed that the sisig easily dried up. maybe because of the winter wonderland ype of weather? i dunno.

the choices for food was still limited to the grilled stuff. and the fried stuff. no sabaw yet. we also had sizzling spinach and grilled tuna belly.

the owner also told us that they hope to open their second gerry's grill in the us (guess where, guess where) in southern california (it's gonna be in cerritos!) within the year. woohoo. something to look forward to.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

el ni-nyoy, la nina

apparently they are a couple and they're here in california for a show.

that's acoustic singer nyoy volante and songstress nina. i was advised by the concert publicist that there was going to be a presscon somewhere in bellflower to promote the concert.

the place was called 'musikahan' and yes it was in bellflower. where's bellflower, you may ask. it's near the cities of artesia, cerritos, cypress... well, it's still in los angeles county.

one of the people who attended the mini presscon asked for a 'sample'. the two singers obliged.

quickly, i asked for a sign. yes, a sign. as a relatively new couple, these two are supposed to still be madly in love with each other, and i was hoping (probably against all hope) that they would sing something to lift me up, inspire me, make me believe in love once more.

they gave me a sign. as if on cue, they sang 'you have no right, to ask me how i have no right to speak to me so kind'. my jaw dropped.

goodness, i asked for a sign. separate lives. could it get any clearer?


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

aga muhlach in carson

went to carson yesterday morning upon the invitation of jollibee management. they were launching a couple of stuff (including the original recipe of the chicken joy) [my own comment: then what were we ordering before everytime we asked for chicken joy? NOT the original chicken joy?].

aga muhlach, jollibee's celebrity endorser was there.

here he is, with the city mayor of carson (extreme left) and council member elito santarina presenting him with the key to the city.

the crowd was crazy. jollibee's vp was still delivering a speech when the unruly fans inside started chanting 'aga! aga! aga!' and the unruly fans outside started banging on the walls/windows. wow. i didn't realize aga STILL had this effect on people.

exhibit number 1:

and exhibit number 2:

the event ended and the crowd control people were able to prevent a stampede from happening. aga was whisked off to an unknown location after the program and the guests were served spaghetti, chicken joy, hamburger and peach mango pie for lunch!

jollibee's top celebrity endorser then thanked the numerous filipinos who, even if they are in the states, continue to flock to the 9 jollibee restaurants in california. next week, they are opening the 10th in los angeles (corner of beverly blvd and vermont avenue).

ah, life!


'pack your bags'

simon cowell echoed my sentiments last week when i said that melissa mcghee and kinnik would be leaving the show, if there is justice in the world.

indeed, there is justice in the world, as the two ladies sang back to back last night and performed well below par. hah. goodbye girls!


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

x-men III

moving on to lighter stuff.

the trailer of x-men III was shown last night during the 2-hour showing of 24. which, by the way was just awesome. the nerve gas was released inside ctu and killed most of its employees, including edgar. kim is back with a boyfriend who looks older than her father. c. thomas howell, what happened? it looks like you did not age gracefully. i wonder how ralph macchio looks now.

x-men III will be shown in may. three more months of waiting.



for reasons i am not ready to divulge yet, i'd like to say that yesterday was an emotional low for me.

maybe the day just didn't start right. maybe my stars were not aligned. maybe it was just an off-day.

yesterday, it rained hard. and it rained hard on me.

there's a reason why i should not be too happy at times.


Friday, March 03, 2006

sue me!

i was coerced by a couple of my friends to watch a movie last night. not just a movie but a tagalog movie.

for two weeks, this film called 'close to you' was shown here in LA. i don't know how it fared but yesterday was the last day and my friends and i caught the 7:30 pm screening. there were about 40 people in the entire cinema.

the movie starred john lloyd cruz and bea alonzo, two young stars who have made a killing by appearing in numerous soap operas/teleseryes earlier. introducing was sam milby, a fil-am from ohio who was also a pinoy big brother housemate.

the plot was kinda predictable but it had its moments. yes, moments. the movie also became a semi-travelogue, what with scenes shot in davao, bohol, dumaguete and even singapore. it was nice seeing the countryside, even if it's only on film.



i hate it that the east coast is 3 hours ahead.

i hate it that my favorite reality shows, including american idol, are aired ahead in the east coast.

i hate it that i have friends in the east coast who love, love, love to annoy me by spoiling my fun and revealing who gets the boot or who wins. year after year after year. season after season after season.

having said that, say goodbye to the four contestants who got kicked last night.

i was so spot on with my prediction about the girls. not with the guys. damn.

2 of the remaining 5 guys i picked got the boot last night. good night and good luck sway penala and daniel radford.

now who's supposed to leave next week? if there's justice in the world, they would be kinnik and melissa and gedeon and kevin. on to the final 12!


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

separated at birth?

or mother and daughter in real life?

to the left is american idol semi finalist paris bennett and to the right is chandra wilson, the actress who portrays the role of dr. bailey (in grey's anatomy) with aplomb.

wala lang.