LITTLE NOTE!

I'm doing a series of giveaways on my Facebook page, dear readers! Just visit my page for a chance to win some fun prizes!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A thousand thanks to Real Living, Nuffnang and Table for Three!

Before the month ends, let me just announce the fantabulous things I almost forgot to tell you about:
Our home feature in Real Living magazine is out now! I think there are still some March issues left on the stands so I hope you can get yourself a copy. Our house came out in the Color Issue and my favorite house--aside from ours, of course!--is the feature after ours. It's got to be the coolest colorful house I've ever seen. But you'll have to grab the March issue to see that. Meanwhile, if you can't get a copy, here's our home in the pages of Real Living:

Did y'all see my giant wall clock in the hallway? The strangest thing is it's so huge no one sees it! It took me about a week to install it, checking with Greenwich time to make sure my numbers were perfectly placed. The daybed (and lots of other things in the house actually) is Vince's parents' wedding gift. The lovely antique Italian mirror in the dining room is my parents' wedding gift.

The white chandelier--which is the first thing everybody sees--is one of the first things Vince and I bought as a married couple. We didn't even have a house yet when we bought it so naturally, the design for the apartment revolved around the chandelier!

To prove this is really our house, here's a zoom in.

Close up of the rabbits in Casa Cunejo. Boy, everybody told me I looked fat in this photo... and I do! The other fattie is Galadriel trying to get into the bedroom because she was camera-shy. On the right is Vince. Literally. A smoking rabbit with stubble. Haha! Actually, it's a designer toy called Smorkin Labbit by graphic artist Frank Kozik. We saw it in a store window but we were told it wasn't for sale, that it was part of the store's decor. Well, that don't stop me, sugar! Ten minutes later, Vince and I were dusting it off and we had a new toy. The glass coffee table it's standing on is a truly gorgeous design from BoConcept.

This is Vince's Christmas gift to me, by the way. It's a Prizmic & Brill New York leather and brass studded writing desk. Remember how I've been looking for a desk for so long? Well, my husband went over and beyond my expectations and when he bought me this beauty, I just screamed my head off.

The exquisite colored-glass mosaic mirror above my desk is from Tessa Prieto Valdes. So sweeeeeeet of Tessa! She had this shipped from I don't know where just because I saw it, said I liked it and she ordered one for me pronto! Thanks, Sea Princess!

Anyway, the apartment is still a work in progress. We're still hunting for lamps and an accent chair for the living room, a buffet table to put under the giant clock in the hallway, rugs and carpets, have a shoe cabinet installed and... oh so many things! Vince and I love to decorate but we do it slooooowly. We both have to fall in love with a piece first and check if we can pay for it and when those conditions are met, then game! A home is so much fun.

Oh, and I'm also Nuffnang's Featured Blogger of the Month!

And I'm a guest blogger at Table for Three!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The vain don't complain, right?

Part of my job is to test the latest offerings of beauty products, spas and health centers. While that sounds cool, most of the time, I just dread it.

Recently, the editors and I were at the launch of L'Oreal Professionel's latest hair colors--green, blue and purple. You read that right. That's Robbie of L'Oreal Professional who successfully convinced Kat of Good Housekeeping to dye her hair blue. She bravely did it. She did not like it since a few days later, her hair turned gray. Robbie, if you're reading this, don't worry: I will try the purple! It looks rich. But I'll do that when I get tired of my current red.

Hair is okay, though. I'll do anything to my hair since it grows out anyway. It's the other things I worry about. One time I was in this super posh spa about to test their new massage techniques by therapists especially imported from some European country. I do not exaggerate when I say that my therapist almost broke my neck. The whole right side of my head felt tingly for the next two days.

Then I just tested this new facial that uses chocolate to moisturize your skin. Well, my face did feel soft and supple but the chocolate was also absorbed and I looked dark for two days! I exfoliated like crazy because my face was darker than the rest of me.

And now I'm being offered to do a colonic cleanse. This treatment is said to flush out bacteria and toxins from your system resulting to clearer skin, less allergies, fresher breath, and a general lightness of being. Still, just reading up on it makes my tummy turn. I don't like the idea of things going up my butt and I like my bacteria a lot, thank you very much!

Ack, I really don't want to do this colonic cleanse! Yes, editors aren't really very excited to try out stuff. I have a beauty editor friend who had the skin of her butt burned off--she could not sit for weeks... but when the burned skin peeled off, no more stretch marks! Another editor had orange skin for a week because of a tanning session gone wrong. Yikes!

So if you're from Manila and can write extremely well, why don't you drop me an email at frances.amper@summitmedia.com.ph and volunteer to test out things? Just as long as you don't sue us in case your face becomes dark, your hair turns gray or you break your neck!

Maybe I'll just drink cod liver oil, eat more oatmeal and veggies and try taking Colonix in the meantime.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

All the single ladies, watch this!

When I said I looked to the '80s for hair inspiration, well, Beyonce went a few notches higher and created a whole video inspired by the '60s.

Here she says that her uber popular "Put a Ring on It" vid was inspired by choreographer Gwen Fosse (oops, posted a wrong vid! Here's the real one!):


And here's the incomparable Mrs. Fosse and her backup dancers shakin' their booty:


Wowza! Whoever said white folks can't dance clearly do not know the Lady Fosse! Here's Beyonce and her backup dancers paying homage:


Can you believe the lithe muscles on Beyonce and her girls? They must've been taking some HGH to get that strong! And those moves aren't easy, mind you. I can imagine the endless practice sessions and training. Anyway, here's the Philippines' very own Dancing Queen, Lucy Torres-Gomez!


I will give Lucy a big A for effort. I tried dancing it and looked pathetic so I won't even dare say anything against the lovely Lucy... But please feel free to comment!

Monday, March 23, 2009

And here's vintage Britney for y'all

OMG, Britney at the height of her career and her sexiness. "Toxic" is one of my favorite Britney Spears songs and when I found this on YouTube today, well, I just had to dance and sing along!

Note: If you're very conservative, then please skip to the next post.



Didn't that make your jaw drop? I hope pants didn't drop, though! I'm trying to learn the dance moves and Vince just laughed away. I guess I need a sparkly nude costume then!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We need a vacation. Fast.

While I do devote this blog to all the silly and shallow aspects of my life, believe me, dear readers, it's not been all sunshine.

Some of you may know our family just suffered the loss of my mother and I try not to bombard you with how the rest of the family's been dealing with the grief. I will tell you that some who still can't accept this have begun entertaining really crazy thoughts in their grief-stricken heads. I would like to report that Papa, my younger brother, my sister and I are doing well, but troubles in the family in the wake of a truly terrible loss is like rubbing salt in a wound we already know will never heal.

On the job front, the global recession has finally hit us. The magazine industry is rooted on luxury; after all, when the household budget becomes tight, magazines are the first items people will do without. So it's been a nightmare of lay-offs at work and constant worry that we might be next. My husband's baby, T3 Philippines, will have its last issue this April. Vince is heartbroken and has been so since the devastating announcement in January, and that's all I will say about it. He will now be in charge of the lucrative special publications department and oversee the new gadget website. Since he's handling two jobs, he was given a hefty raise, but not all the money in the world can heal the ache in my husband's heart.

Despite all these, Vince and I still find it easy to laugh. We have each other, after all. The world can fall away and as long as I can still stare into my husband's eyes, then nothing can destroy me. I know he feels this way, too.

But though Vince and I are happy to have each other, we've also been thinking of running off to somewhere far far away to just hide and heal. France is an attractive option and we can stay at my old friend Aida's home at Antibes. New York is also appealing since airfare has dropped from USD 1,400 to just USD 900. We just don't know where to stay and what to do! The West Coast is familiar ground to Vince--he's always said we'd have a wine picnic in Napa Valley, have fun in Disneyland, go see the seals at Monterey Bay, check in at a San Diego hotel and see more animals at the famous zoo. Or we can stay close to home and go to Palawan. Club Noah Isabelle resort calls to us each day.

Oh, to just curl up in a strange place with no one we know for miles around! Meet new people, explore new cultures, have new adventures and just forget and forgive and replenish our weary souls.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Parties in hot Manila

And by hot, I mean literally sweltering hot. This week was just filled with events: product launches, store openings, press conferences. Ack. No matter what we did, our hair was plastered onto our scalps, neck and foreheads! Makeup melted, dresses were glued to our backs, and greetings were reduced to those deplorable air kisses. I love Manila but when it gets hot like this, I just want to stay in front of the A/C.
Anyway, Karimadon--which I adore for two reasons: the pretty dresses and its owner Josie Go (in pink)--just launched their small but well stocked branch in Glorietta 5 early this week.

I met brand endorser Marian Rivera. Marian is unbelievably tiny (I am crouching in above photo and I'm taller than Josie) and extremely pretty. And, I agree that she's what she proudly described herself to be in this month's Cosmopolitan: "Yun ang problema sa akin. Kapag di ko kilala, hindi ako nagsasalita. Kapag nakilala ko, ayan chika na tayo." (translation: "That's the problem with me. If I don't know you, I don't talk. When I get to know you, well, then I'm friendly.") Fair enough. I respect the girl's chutzpah and... that's all.

I wore one of the two Karimadon dresses I bought to yesterday's events. First, we went to Greenbelt 3 for the launch of Kiehl's Ultimate White line, which they say is the best and most effective whitening treatment out there. Boy, was it hot! To distract myself from the heat, I took pics of my fellow media friends:

Cosmo's Nicole Delos Angeles and Preview's Lyca Puno
(the two girls leftmost) with the Kiehl's girls


OK!'s Kabbie Rodriguez and FemaleNetwork's Trixie Reyna

OK!'s Nichole Reyes shows off her sexy back

Me, Nicole and Hinge Inquirer's Ianne Evangelista
(also the former editor-in-chief of Cosmo)

Then off to Serendra for dinner with my darling friend Mariel. I wanted to go to Hobbes to check out some pet supplements, to Charles & Keith for shoes and to Fully Booked for, well, books. But Balducci's cool interiors enticed me and I just sat in this wonderfully cozy restaurant while Mariel was buying my (two years delayed!) wedding gift--a clever corkscrew from Alessi. Thanks, neighbor! We love it!

Anyway, after dinner, Mariel and I headed off to Dessert Row for the launch of the Kerastase chocolate treatment. I wasn't able to get a sample but I did get to taste some wonderful chocolates. And boy, it was even hotter at Serendra. So everyone I took pics of had sweaty faces!


Inquirer columnist Mariel Chua, accessories designer Happy David and
HIP editorial director Ianne Evangelista

I would've posted more photos but I know my friends would kill me if I posted anything with shiny, sweaty cheeks and foreheads! And that's my week!

Dinner with Aida... Dinner with Mariel

Been seeing a lot of my long lost friends lately. Aida, my dearest friend since first year high and who now lives in Antibes, was here all too briefly for her sister's wedding (best wishes, Arlyn!). Though she was here for about three weeks, I saw her only once since she spent all of her time as a tour guide to her French in-laws all over this beautiful country.

We had dinner with a few Manila Science High classmates at Dencio's at Robinsons Manila. Most weren't able to make it because some had family to attend to and some had jobs in health care so they were on duty that night. I can tell Aida was disappointed since she's hardly ever here and she wasn't able to see all her friends so I promised her that I'll go visit her in France! I am hoping to go this year. I've never been to France and that country--reputed to be the most beautiful in the world--is definitely on my must-visit list!

Last night, I did get to experience a bit of Europe. Mariel, another friend of mine who is here for a brief stay from the US of A, met me for dinner at this fabulous Italian restaurant, Balducci's at Serendra. Oh my. I've passed by this place so many times and hardly ever gave it a glance. And when I stepped in last night, I was transported instantly to another time and place!

The dinner was superb. We had tuna carpaccio and ravioli, which were both amazing. The coffee was divine. The bread was warm and incredibly tasty. Sorry I have no pics--they didn't turn out well! Mariel and I had such a lovely time talking about love, life, friends, work, sacrifices and blessings. It was a cozy dinner made happier by the good food! I am definitely bringing Vince here for a romantic dinner! One of my best dining experiences ever and, I tell ya, when it comes to food, I've been around.
So that's how my past few days had been--full of good friends and fine food. My kind of time!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Going back to 1985 for inspiration


I really really want to cut my hair but everyone's telling me not to. So okay, I decided I'll let it grow again. And then I saw this retro video of "Blue Kiss." I so love this song! And I so love Jane Wiedlin's short crop!

I also love the rabbit on the album cover! Anyway, Jane's hair reminds me of Winona Ryder's cut, too. Gosh, I loved Winona. Especially in 1990's Edward Scissorhands. Or maybe I loved Johnny Depp there.
Anyway, the style is rather short. If I don't want it that short, then maybe we can go for something a bit longer, like this:
I think I have to lose some weight so that my face won't look fat. Here's what I look like with a blond wig (why I'm in a wig? Click here):
Nicole Delos Angeles, Beauty Editor of Cosmopolitan, told me short hair is a lot more work because I'll have to style it to death with mousse, gels, waxes, etc. Plus, I'll have to wear makeup and earrings so I won't look like a boy. Gee, I never realized short hair was so high maintenance!

Oh well, it's just hair. If I look terrible, it'll grow back. Trouble is no one wants me to cut my hair short. Especially Vince. When I showed him that wigged pic, he totally looked at me with horror. I think he won't make love to me if I cut my hair short! Then again, I don't think my husband can resist me tee hee.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Missed your flight? Welcome to the club!

OMG. I saw this video in The BagHag and I just laughed my head off silly. Because I know exactly how this poor woman feels!


On our honeymoon in London last year, Vince and I decided to go to the National Gallery after checking out of our hotel at noon. Our flight was at 6 PM. Surely, 2 hours in a museum can't hurt. Oh, boy, did it hurt! First of all, 2 hours are not enough in a museum as breathtaking as the National Gallery. So of course, we lingered. Still, Heathrow was just a 30-minute train ride away. Unfortunately, the tube had so many problems on that particular day and we were stuck underground between stations for quite a while. So basically it took us some frikkin' 2 hours and 50 minutes to get from Kings Cross to Heathrow.

We ran and ran and ran with our luggage and shopping. We got to the gate 5 minutes after it closed. I begged, "Please let us through. It's just 5 minutes. Please. We want to go home." I did not cry. In fact, I was so upset I was whispering because I felt if I raised my voice just a bit, it would escalate to screaming fury (like the woman in the video).

Vince and me leaving the hotel, excited to go back home

Of course Cathay Pacific refused, politely but firmly. We stayed at the check-in counter for the rest of the evening, waiting to be chance passengers but all flights to Manila were fully booked. There was another girl who also missed her flight, and she was sobbing so much I wanted to hug her. Anyway, we then decided to fly to Hong Kong, stay there for a night then try to get a flight from there to Manila. No luck.

I tell you, dear readers, getting left behind by your plane is one of the worst things that can happen to you! Vince and I spent the night at Heathrow hoping airports offered free hotel rooms for unfortunate people like us (tip: stay at the arrivals section--it's warm there and the convenience shops are open all night). Good thing we had the Sony PSP to keep us sane. We watched episodes of Lost (and we commiserated with the characters!), listened to music, played games and read comic books all on the PSP. I also finished reading The Kite Runner, which made me sadder.

We were finally able to book a flight first thing in the morning and as we were having lunch, Vince tried to cheer me up: "As soon as we get home, we'll eat tinolang manok and sinigang and adobo with fried garlic rice..." He trailed off because by then I had started bawling. I wailed, "I want to go home! I want to go home!"

Haha, we joke about it now but I swear upon the Gucci bag I just won that I will forever check in early! No more missed flights ever!


*to my non-Filipino readers, tinolang manok is chicken stewed with chili leaves, sayote/green papaya and ginger; sinigang is a sour soup of pork/fish/prawn and vegetables; adobo is pork/chicken simmered to fall-apart tenderness in garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. Oh my, I got hungry...

If the experts are to be believed, cancer can be avoided by eating these foods

Cancer runs in my family. Mother's side. So I've always been afraid I'd get it and grateful Mama didn't. I was reading a magazine--I don't remember if it was Elle or Glamour--and found myself really interested in this article about a nutritionist who claims that she's put people on remission from cancer on her diet and that they never got the cancer back!

Now I've always known that a healthy diet can keep the Big C away but keep it away for good? Wow. The diet is pretty simple and obvious and logical: Avoid processed foods. If you must drink, keep the wine to a glass a day. Eat meat sparingly. Eat five cups of fruits and vegetables a day (broccoli sprouts are very healthy and antioxidant-rich plums are cheaper than blueberries). Consume a lot of Omega-3 found in oily fish, for example. Drink matcha green tea till your piss turns green.

Agh. I eat meat at every meal. I love Spam. I try to eat fruits and veggies at least once a day (I love broccoli but what on earth are broccoli sprouts and are plums like peaches?). I don't eat fish really. And I drink green tea, but not in copious amounts. I don't drink alcohol and I no longer smoke. I never exercise. But I do chase my rabbits around!

Living a healthy life is actually quite difficult! Makes me wish I lived in a house with a nice big garden where I can raise some fish in a pond, grow vegetables and pick fruit from my own trees. But can broccoli and plum trees grow here? I wish we can have studies on fruit and veggies that actually flourish in a tropical country so we can just eat a locally available but just as nutritious food and we won't have to be buying canned or expensive imported fruit and veggies all the time!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The MacBook has landed

Remember my quest for a netbook? Well, right after I wrote that post, my husband got inspired (or maybe finally got impatient? Hee hee) and got himself--yes, not me!--his newest baby, the aluminum 13-inch MacBook:I love it! He's so cute! He was super excited when opening the box: "It's like Christmas!" Hehe. Vince always gets like this--photo shoot and all--when he gets himself a new gadget. It's too cute for words really. I only got to post it now because, well, the hubby's very private and he got shy to share this but... it's public knowledge now!

Vince has been doing some really amazing stuff with his new toy, which ironically finally convinced me that I don't need a laptop as powerful as the MacBook. I already have an iMac, which is powerful enough to send a rocket ship to the moon and back. And we have an iPhone, too. But I still want a netbook! So, yes, I'm going to get myself an MSI Wind. Best thing about the MSI Wind? You can install OSX, so it's like using a Mac for a fraction of the price. Perfect!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Lunch with Mariel

My dearest darling friend, Mariel, is here from a too-long stay in New York. She'll only be here for a month--meeting friends, family and fixing the details for her upcoming wedding to Alvin. Finally!

Anyway, we had lunch at C2 at Shangri-la a few days ago. She was starved for Pinoy food. So was I actually. Been eating unhealthily these past few weeks, just chowing down on burgers and pizzas. Ack!

This is the fruit and seaweed salad. It was interesting. The seaweed was salty and pops in your mouth. The sweet fruits were an excellent foil to the saltiness of the seaweed and the bitterness of the cabbage leaves.

This is Matthew, Mariel's adorable six-year-old brother. He's super jetlagged and tired from all the family reunions but he's valiantly trying to fight it. So cute! It's his first time in the Philippines and finds our food too rich. So he had McNuggets.

This is pan de sal with kesong puti. Is kesong puti goat cheese? Anyway, the cheese is toasted and put in freshly baked crunchy rolls. Yum!

This is pansit Malabon. Pansit is noodles. Malabon is a place. So this is a noodle dish from Malabon, I guess! It's noodles drenched in seafood. So it was kinda really salty. Not really my type of pansit.

Okay, quick post today, dear readers and lurkers alike! Am having a very busy weekend--a wedding, a seminar, an eyelash extension repair, a play, and a dinner! In fact, I do have to run by a tech shop, too, for flash memory drives. Need more storage for all my photos! More updates soonest!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Who is the Filipino? Anthony Bourdain asks

If you're vegetarian or from PETA, skip this post. You've been warned!

Food master (chef, author, TV host) Anthony Bourdain finally visited the Philippines and the show was on last week (and it took me this long to post about it because my new Nine West shoes and new Gucci bag totally distracted me!). Vince and I love his show "No Reservations" because we loooove food and any show that tackles food is a good show! Anthony's is different from most because, unlike most people, he has a very open mind on food and he tells it like it is, so if he says it's good, you betcha it's good. And if it's bad, I'll take his word for it, too. Other hosts are such huge fans of their own food (usually bland) that they can't appreciate the cuisines of other cultures.

So when he came over and said that our lechon, or roasted pig, is the best in the entire world, well, I assure you that a lot of pigs will get roasted as Pinoys all over celebrate the fact that Anthony Bourdain just proclaimed our lechon as the "Best. Pig. Ever!"
I just want to say that, while "No Reservations" is a food show, he tackled one mighty question: Who is the Filipino? It really bothered Anthony that if our food's so good, why isn't it on the culinary map? Why aren't we promoting it and pushing it because, to him, the few dishes he ate were some of the best-tasting stuff he's ever had. Hell, yeah! Pinoy food forever! In fact, our food is so good, Filipinos are fast becoming a nation that desperately needs the best diet pill ever! Tee hee.

Anyway, this is a very serious question that applies to all aspects. I've had the opportunity to meet many foreigners. When the hosts of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" visited, they were surprised to see how fashionable Filipinas are, which begs the question: Why aren't Filipinos on the fashion map? Some American and European friends of mine who've been to many beaches and diving sites all over the world visit the Philippines and get so flabbergasted at how beautiful our shorelines are, which begs the question: Why aren't our beaches--the very best in the world!--in the travel books? And so on and so forth.



(this is just the first part of 5. Please watch the entire show)

Watch the show as Anthony and the Pinoys he interviews grapple with this question. This is the comment I left on Anthony's blog:

"Our identity has always been debated on. Everyone says we have none because--like you said--we are too nice and struggle to please and be integrated. But underneath that, there is a Filipino identity, very subtle, but we recognize it in each other as soon as we step out of the country. Like you said, Filipinos are nice. And everywhere in the world, if you meet a friendly, smiling, eager-to-please, kind, happy, funny, all-suffering person, I bet my life you just met a Filipino.
"And I want to add that the Filipino identity is wrapped around food! Why do you think your show has so many Filipino fans, it makes you nervous? =D As long as it's about food, Filipinos will devour it!
"

If you're Pinoy, stand up and be proud! And let's have some lechon while we're at it!

*photos from Anthony Bourdain's online journal