Friday, December 29, 2006

new year's eve + sin city

friends and i are off to las vegas to celebrate the new year. this is my fourth new year's even in the city of sin, and i'm quite excited. hehehe. at first, i wanted to celebrate nye inside my room, in solitary confinement. then the plan tod rive to vegas cropped up. who am i to say no?

i am looking forward to four days of fun and debauchery. hahaha. kidding. i am with good people, they don't go for debaucherous stuff. i think.

i'll be seeing a couple of old friends. a friend from manila i haven't seen in ages. some co-workers who are also driving to vegas. some acquaintances. yay. this should be fun.

in the meantime, i'd like to greet every single one who bothers to read this, a very, very happy new year! hope 2007 brings us more contentment, nothing more, nothing less.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

give jennifer (and leo!) the oscar!

hah! just finished watching 'dreamgirls' and jennifer hudson was indeed, a revelation. probably it was the role because it was really a challenging one, but an actress of lesser confidence would have crumbled right there. who knew that j-hud had it in her?

she swapped dialogues against, and had shouting matches with last year's oscar winner jamie foxx, and she didn't seem to wince. neophyte? not this one. beyonce was beautiful all throughout, no question about that, but this was not her movie. sorry, b.

my friend j and i went to the grove as early as lunch-time to watch this but unfortunately, tickets to the first four screenings have been sold-out that the first slot available was at 11:05 pm (a full 12 hours later!) and 12:05 am. we opted for the 11:05 and called our friends m & r if they wanted to join us.

we watched 'blood diamond' first and i was moved by leonardo's performance. he's really good in this film. he's nominated for best actor at the golden globes for this film and for 'the departed' (which i did not see). for the oscar race, apparently, you can be nominated only once, and they will get the one with the higher votes. which would be bad for leo, since he delivered two fine performances, his votes will be divided. and if ever he gets nominated, the bigger problem is: will the academy make him win? i was rooting for him last year for 'the aviator' but no, the academy just won't give it to him. did i hear scorsese?

anyhow, 'blood diamond' was quite heavy with all the blatant killings. i read in GQ that the diamond industry is going to come up with a campaign to somehow clean up their name which was somehow tainted by the movie. the actors delivered honest and real performances and i'm happy i watched this. (it was either this or apocalypto. will catch that one some other time.)


Friday, December 22, 2006

winter solstice

Los Angeles Marks Winter Solstice, Welcomes the Cold Weather

GRIFFITH PARK – Los Angelenos led by councilmember Tom LaBonge gathered Thursday afternoon at the recently-reopened Griffith Observatory to mark the winter solstice on the spot of one of the most unobstructed and spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean from the west terrace of the Observatory.

Dr. Edwin Krupp, the Obervatory’s director, joined LaBonge and about a hundred people as the sun set directly on the winter sunset line at 4:46 p.m.

“This is one of the year’s most beautiful natural occurrences and this year it is particularly significant because we are back at the Observatory to witness it,” said Councilmember LaBonge who joined other hikers from the intersection of Boy Scout Road and Vermont Canyon Road to walk the half-mile to the Observatory.

Winter solstice marks the first day of winter – when the sun is the farthest south – and is the shortest day of the year, in terms of the length of time elapsed between sunrise and sunset. Sunset occurred at 4:46 p.m. PST on Thursday, and was preceeded very closely by the exact time of the solstice, at 4:22 p.m. PST.

The solstice likewise marks the beginning of the sun’s return migration toward the northern hemisphere. This means that we will be experiencing a lengthening of daylight hours.
The celebration was almost cut short when the sun hid under thick clouds for a few minutes. LaBonge predicted that the sun would come out and that the people at the observatory would still be able to witness a beautiful sunset.

As if on cue, the sun indeed came out a few minutes later, much to the delight of those who trooped to the Observatory to welcome the new season. The sky was bathed in hues of orange, moments after the sun re-emerged from the clouds.

People can observe the winter solstice, an annual celestial event, on Griffith Observatory’s west terrace where the solstice, equinox, and lunar standstill lines are laid into the pavement.

Cold Weather in LA

Temperatures plunged to record levels early Tuesday in Southern California because of a very cold air mass that followed a weekend storm remained in place over the region.

Near-record lows were expected this week here in Southern California, where homeless shelters opened lounges to handle anticipated overflow after temperatures plunged to record levels the night before.

The cold weather was expected as calm winds and clear skies brought more frost or freezing conditions through early Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

The temperature early Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport was 39 degrees, tying the 1924 mark. In the high desert north of Los Angeles, the city of Lancaster shivered at 16 degrees, 2 degrees below the record low set in 1965. Nearby Palmdale was an icy 18. The old mark was 22 set in 1992.

Along the coast, early morning lows were 28 at Santa Barbara airport, 31 in Camarillo and 36 in Long Beach. All the temperatures were described by the NWS as preliminary record lows for the date.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge and Griffith Observatory's directpr Dr. Edwin Krupp welcome winter at the observatory.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

food trippin' in the bay area, part 3

another day

okay, so the next day, it was breakfast. light breakfast. hehehe. red ribbon fare - ensaymada, palabok, empanada, pandesal and cake (quartered, four flavors).

lunch time at the 'boulevard cafe,' a diner-type resto serving comfort food in the westlake district of daly city. it's a notch higher than denny's. very nice interiors and very good food.

this is what i got: tutto mare, spaghetti with prawns, clams, mussels and red snapper in a white wine marinara, basil and garlic sauce. whew. heavy meal.

g ordered the house pot roast, which he claims, is very, very delicious. served over orzo pasta with mizithra cheese and seasonal vegetables. i'll try it next time.

and dinner-time at kincaid's. it's a fish, chop and steak house in burlingame, overlooking the bay.
what i got: grilled seafood brochette - fresh salmon, tiger prawns and a jumbo scallop grilled with toasted hazelnut butter. the scallop was so tender and tasty. the salmon was really fresh and kinda sweet and the tiger prawns were fine.

g ordered the special of the day and from the looks of it, i can't seem to decide what it is. looks like chicken or fish to me, with some veggies on the side. whatever.

[red ribbon is all over california | boulevard cafe is at 2 poncetta drive in daly city, california. call 650.755-3400 | kincaid's is located at 60 bayview place in burlingame. phone is 650.342-9844]


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

food trippin' in the bay area, part 2

okay, so where did we stop? okay, moonstar.

lunch the next day was at ppq dungeness island, along clement street in downtown san francisco. it's a vietnamese restaurant specializing in roasted crab.

here's what we had --

green papaya salad, a tasty salad made out of shredded raw papaya with peanuts and some beef. it was okay. not a big papaya fan.

steamed seabass, which i was not able to taste at all. there were 7 of us and four of them do not eat crabs (for one reason or another). do the math. 3 of us divided the 2 yummy crabs amongst ourselves, and let the seabass and chicken to the non-crab eaters. why we did we eat there in the first place? first off, we didn't know that the 4 people in our group didn;t eat crabs. hahaha. so much for asking.second, their garlic noodles was rumored to be goood.

crab 1 in creamy white sauce. not a big fan of crabs (i find it messy, eating it, i mean) but i had to eat some anyway.

crab 2 bathed and smothered in garlic. yum.

the resto's garlic noodles. i didn't like it as much as i would have loved to. crustacean's garlic noodles win by a mile and a half.

dinnertime six hours later. off to san bruno to dine in one of the city's newest restaurants. welcome to tribu grill.

had some appetizers: this one's my manila favorite - salpicao. didn't match my favorite - dulcinea's salpicao. maybe they sliced the beef in very small cubes. or maybe i didn't taste a lot of evoo. don't get me wrong, the taste was decent, not just the salpicao i was looking for.

this is where i miss italianni's. at tribu, they have a dalandan slush. it was very good, i loved it. i miss the shake and the plain dalandan juice at italianni's though.

one of a kind dessert - the frozen brazo de mercedes. if you think it is a frozen brazo de mercedes, think again. it's just graham crackers (for the crust), vanilla ice cream, caramel custard and cream, burnt a bit to simulate the look of a brazo. it's sinfully good, and original. i think.

the restaurant's specialty of the house: binagoongan fried rice, in an orgy of colors. i loved the presentation, i loved the taste, i loved the entire concept. the yellow-greenish mango, the red tomatoes, the brown binagoongan and the yellow scrambled egg. it's a must-taste when you're at tribu!

[ppq dungeness crab is located at 2232 clement @ 25th avenue in san francisco. call 415.386-8266 for details | tribu filipino grill is located at 235 el camino real in san bruno. call 650.872-8851]


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

food trippin' in the bay area, part 1

this is going to be a long post about food, so if you are hungry, stay away! hehehe. my blog has turned into a foodie blog without me even planning to. yum.

on our way to san francisco, we made quite a few stops - to eat, for restroom break, to pump gas. our first stop was 'little quiapo' near valencia (which is famous because of six flags' magic mountain). actually, it's in the city called newhall. this is where we had breakfast. i had pork inihaw and five pieces of tuyo. yum. no photos because i forgot my camera in the car.

next food stop was about 4 hours later, at panera bread in gilroy, the garlic capital of california. i've blogged about panera bread before because i love their food dearly, especially their sandwiches, and their soup.

i ordered take 2, which means that i get half of the sandwich i want and either a soup or a salad. and a side. all for $6.99. not bad. so i went for my favorite soup (broccoli cheddar) and i tried the pepperblue steak (seasoned steak filets, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions & creamy Gorgonzola roasted red pepper sauce, on toasted Ciabatta) plus my chips. good deal.

next stop was dinner at this newish buffet restaurant in daly city called moonstar. it's like todai, only better. i think. there was lots and lots and lots of food and i was getting dizzy just trying to remember which ones i wanted to try. i went to the japanese station and i was solved.

i had one of these, a lot of sashimi and sushi. had soft shell crab, too, and some unagi. oh gee, and this is only the japanese station. i was getting full.

oh, the rows upon rows of sushi. this is sushi heaven!

and crab legs, shrimps, oysters. there was also lobster (which i am not a big fan of). the waiter gives the customers one card each. if they want to have lobster, they need to present that card to the lobster chef. if not, they can return it to the cashier for a $2 rebate.

fruit salad! i didn't get to try this because i was busy messing up their cappuccino machine. had some miniature cakes and chocolate fondue as well. ten pounds gained. just for tonight's meal.


it's getting cold in the bay area

just got back from a four-day trip to the bay area with my bosses. timed the trip to the blessing of our new office up north. the weather was cold, very cold. how cold?

this cold. cars were frosted. the grass was white. well, it desn't reallys now in california but sometimes, it gets really cold and well, ice forms when it happens. this was around 7 am, on our way to mass in san bruno.

this doesn't happen in LA. i think. maybe decades ago it did.


Friday, December 15, 2006


porto's is one of my favorite cake and pastry places here in LA. little-known fact: it's cuban. their desserts are just awesomely divine. definitely not for diabetics. their specialty remains to be the beautiful fruit tarts and the cheese rolls (which i love!). lines can be very long, but they have a very efficient staff and system. it's definitely worth the wait. promise.

not for the diabetics (and faint-hearted). a christmas tree made out of cream puffs adorn the top shelf of porto's. just looking at the stuff they have makes me dizzy. sugar high ito!

one of my absolute favorites (alongside the cheese rolls) is the cappuccino mousse. anything with a hint of coffee. not too seet, not too strong. yum.

sinfully rich chocolate cake that's moist and really tempting.

nice to look at, better when devoured.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

for good

i'm a big fan of lea salonga. and jennifer paz. and i've had the privilege of meeting these two ladies up close, and interviewing them for articles.

i'm a big fan of wicked. and most of the songs in that musical. including for good.

here's lea and jennifer paz in a pop version of 'for good.' [i watched kristin chenowith sing this song with her special guest alanis morissette at kristin's concert at the walt disney concert hall kast year. it was awesome!]


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

imagine this

what would you feel if you had a brother, who passed away, and gave each one of you (there are five of you in the family, not counting the dead parents) ONE dollar each and gave the city of Los Angeles almost $500,000.00!

only in LA, and yes, truth is indeed, stranger than fiction.

Little is known about Theodore DiFiore, who died Nov. 17, 1990, at age 79 while living in a modest downtown apartment. But the money that he left — and that can now be used for anything the city desires — appears to be one of the largest bequests to Los Angeles in recent years.

According to DiFiore's handwritten will from 1976, which was updated several times before his death, each of his five siblings was to receive $1, said Robert Pasquinelli, a San Jose attorney handling the matter.
i would probably be sooo pissed.


foaming in the mouth

"Gusto ko ng mangangagat ng tao." Hahaha! F-U-N-N-Y. That's Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, for those who do not know who this feisty lady is.

I love her. Back in college, I was a part of her MOVERS (Movement for Responsible Public Service), an organization which she founded. I really, really liked her back then. As fate would have it, I was able to interview her for an article that I wrote for Filipino Magazin. She gave me a book (with her autograph! and a personal message to me!!). When I went home to the Philippines last month, I had a chance to look at my old stuff, and in our mini-library at home, I saw this book. I opened it and brought back a lot of memories.

Then, this happened.

Imagine if she, and not Fidel V. Ramos, became the 12th President of the Philippine Republic.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

thanks, e-z pass!

that was the team of tyler and james, the former drug addicts turned models, who just won the 10th season of the amazing race, thanks to e-z pass!

it was sheer luck that the cabbie they had from jfk in new york had an e-z pass. the other team, rob & kimberly, had a driver without an e-z pass, and that spelled the difference. (a little explanation: you need to pay toll when driving through some freeways leading into new york (manhattan), especially coming from the airport/s, whether it's jfk or la guardia. some drivers prefer to have the e-z pass, which a scanner scans as the car passes through the toll. for the rest of the world, they pay cash. the time that the second team lost because they paid in cash.)

i wasn't able to watch it last night because i had to attend a party. anyhow, i got 'spoiled' and i accidentally found out the winner while browsing one of my favorite websites earlier.

while i didn't have a clear favorite in the final 3 pairs in contention, i was somehow cheering for the boys because they showed that they were quite prayerful and that they prayed a lot, from being able to secure last-minute tickets from paris to new york to the fateful cab ride from the airport to manhattan. that, compared with the bickering rob & kimberly, who from the charles de gaulle airport in paris kept on yapping that 'this is worth a million dollars' again and again and again just irritated me. then, i began to dislike the alabama girls when they started saying that, too. i already forgave them for ditching the cho brothers and essentially, the six-pack partnership but this was just didn't sit well with me. well, to each his own.

so, congratulations to tyler and james for a great race, and for the amazing race for another great season. i cna't believe that they've reached their tenth season! and i can't believe i'm still a big fan! here's looking forward to the next season! [photo by the associated press]


Monday, December 11, 2006

so near, yet so far

there goes my predicting abilities again, off the window! my chosen philippine idol bet, gian magdangal (right) lost to mau marcelo (center) and erst-while front-runner jan nieto. my heart goes out to the two losers, ooops, non-winners, especially to my bet who looks crushed after the announcement. [photo from the website]


Tuesday, December 05, 2006


crustacean is one of my favorite chi-chi restaurants in beverly hills simply because i love their garlic noodles. hah! ang layo! garlic noodles talaga. their chilean sea bass is fine, too; and their dungeness crabs in their secret garlicky sauce. yum.

today, i ordered the colossal royal tiger prawns, char-broiled with secret spices and served over the famous garlic noodles. it's called colossal. it's also called royal. and tiger prawns. i half-expected humongous prawns but i was a bit disappointed. in the philippines, if you say colossal or royal or tiger prawns, it better be huuuge, or you're dead.

it was a fun meal, made more fun by the company. an almost $300 tab for six people's lunch. not bad, not bad at all.


first gift

i received my first christmas gift for the year this afternoon.

it's a bottle of perfume from neiman marcus. okay, i told myself, an addition to my collection. i like collecting perfumes, especially my favorite scents. i tend to favor citrusy over musky and woodsy. i like it fresh.

anyhow, the perfume is called creed. seriously, i've never heard of the brand before. and i wondered why, especially since i love perfumes. how could i not know about this brand called creed? as soon as i got home, i did a little research and found this.

Established in 1760 in London by James Henry Creed, it became a favourite with the aristocracy and royalty, receiving its first royal warrant in 1781 from King George III. Creed was adopted by many of the fashionable courts of Europe: from Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie, to Franz Joseph and Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary, and Queen Christina of Spain. In 1854, the House of Creed moved to Paris under the patronage of Empress Eugénie.

In the twentieth century, Creed continued to be extremely popular with celebrities and aristocrats, especially in the golden age of Hollywood, when many stars commissioned their own personal fragrances.

Creed fragrances for men and women are hand made, using the costly and time-intensive traditional infusion technique. Most of the modern perfume industry has abandoned infusion in favour of mechanized commercial techniques.

so that is why i don't know creed. insert evil laughter here.

i checked the neiman marcus site for the price (naughty me, i am sorry!). $208. plus tax. $208! with tax, that's around $220. times fifty bucks. PhP11,000. for a bottle of perfume. i'm hyperventilating.

it turns out that my first gift for this year is also going to be the most expensive, and that, i am almost certain about.

grazie, mme. v for the thoughtfulness!

[still smiling.]


Monday, December 04, 2006

goodbye blondies


the beauty queens are out.

since the amazing race premiered its 10th season a couple of months ago, i immediately developed a distintc dislike for the blondes - a couple of former beauty queens, one miss california and one miss new york - just because of how 'maarte' they seemed. anyhow, they've been quite strong for the longest time, and in more than a couple of legs, even became team number one!

they were really running after the million seriously, and the tag of being the first all-female team to win! or even be in the top 3!

last week, theyw ere marked for elimination. this is a new twist introduced this season. they don't eliminate you even if you come in last, as long as you come in first in the next leg and get a 30 minute penalty. i need to find this episode and watch it. just to relish on how they have fallen.

i like the cho brothers and the david and mary (go six-pack!) and the lady with a prosthetic leg (just her, not her asshole of a partner) but one by one, they got eliminated.

so, the final 3 teams are here. season finale's next week. it's anybody's game. will it be the models who were former drug addicts? or kimberly and rob. the semi-verbally abusive couple? or the ba-ma girls - yay karlyn and lyn, who now hold the record for being the first all-female (and not physically-fit! and black!) team to be in the final 3.

my bet? i would love for the the ba-ma girls to win, but the former junkies are really tough to beat. we'll see next week.