Thursday, May 29, 2008

Getting ready for the UK!

So, like I said, Vince and I will be flying off to the United Kingdom (I won't say where exactly because I have an ongoing contest) in two weeks. We just bought luggage. Thank goodness Robinsons Galleria has a Bag and Shoe Fair this whole month of May because we were able to buy beautiful luggage from Echolac. Actually, I was content to buy a cheap local brand but Vince said, "If we must buy something, let's check out the expensive brands first then we'll work our way down." He's right; we may actually be able to afford it! And we did!

Echolac is a Japanese brand and from the moment we heard that line, "This is from Japan..." we were sold. So we're super duper happy because we now have lovely respectable luggage that we're sure won't get mangled at the baggage area.

I've booked the hotel, too. For six nights! I really like the Trip Advisor site because customer reviews are honest and brutal so you know which hotels to avoid. Their tag line is "Get the truth. Then go." And so that's where I got the bulk of my research. While I booked a hotel that was GBP 20 over budget (multiply that with six nights and that's P8,000 I didn't want to spend), I'm confident I made the right choice. I was looking for a hotel that had a GBP 100/night rate but Travel Advisor reviews on those hotels were really bad so I'm going with Premier Travel Inn. Not the most cheap for what is supposed to be a budget hotel line but certainly good. Look at how clean it is. I stayed in a Premier Travel Inn in 2006, and I liked it there. Simple, no fuss, convenient. And the breakfast buffet (at a painful GBP 7++) was amazing!

I'm giddy with anticipation. I've just bought a Lonely Planet guide book and it's pretty good since the book tells us what sights are really good to see and what tourist traps we should avoid. I'm also studying travel insurance options. Right now, I'm seriously considering World Nomads. The coverage is USD 300,000 each for Vince and me, and it's quite comprehensive. The sweetest thing about it is I pay just USD 30 for both of us!

Yes, everything's ready for Vince and me! We're super duper excited!

All I worry about now is the rabbits.

*image from Premier Travel Inn website.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Off with her head!

But I don't want her to lose that pretty devious head!

While everyone I know is losing their own heads over TV shows Gossip Girl and before that Grey's Anatomy, I've been losing myself to Rome, Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, Weeds, 30 Rock, and--my super duper current favorite--Showtime's The Tudors.

With only 2 episodes left for The Tudors second season, I am really despondent. It's like a dear friend of mine is going to go on vacation and I'm really not sure if she's coming back. Well, there will definitely be a third season but the Tudor dynasty doesn't end with Henry and his wives so I wonder if there'll be enough public interest to see the series through to Edward, Mary, and finally Elizabeth. You never know with these series. For example, cult favorites sci-fi Firefly and comedy Arrested Development just quietly died, despite being two of the best written and best-acted shows on television. Sigh... It sucks to have the general public dictate their taste really.

Anyway, back to The Tudors. So last week, Anne Boleyn finally confirms that her husband, Henry VIII, is in love with another woman, that vile Jane Seymour. In contrast to the passionate and extremely intelligent Anne, Jane is virginal and submissive. But like Anne, Jane is utterly the same when it comes to stealing husbands. What makes her worse in my mind is this: Anne asked Henry to divorce Katherine; Jane mutely wanted Anne dead. She wasn't going to wait for a divorce the way Anne did (who waited seven long years); she'd rather her royal rival was conveniently dead and this was accomplished in five weeks! Murderess! In fact, she married the king 10 days after Anne was beheaded! Ooooh, I can't stand Jane Seymour!

The problem with being very familiar with English history is that you know how the story's going to play out so there's no real suspense. And since I'm a bit knowledgeable about it, I can also spot right away if the writers deviated from fact. But despite those annoying things, the brilliance with this series is the tight writing and the amazing acting. So I'm always caught up in the emotion, the very moment of it all even though I know what's going to happen next--which Vince hates since I sometimes can't help saying aloud, "Don't hug the queen, you moron, because you'll go to the Tower for that!" and he'll grumble, "Now you ruined it for me... Who's that moron anyway?" and I'd be happy to fill him in on the history. Though he hates it when I spoil episodes, Vince gave me David Starkey's very thick book, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, anyway. It was his first present to me as my husband. What an ominous first gift, I say!

I've always been interested in this part of English history not just because of everyone's reason (the story of a king who had six wives is always juicy) but because I was raised a Born-Again Christian. So Henry VIII, in breaking with the Roman Catholic Church, was a hero of the Reformation. Of course, since I was also raised a Catholic by my grandparents and I studied in a convent, I was told that Thomas More, who Henry beheaded, was the hero of the time and that Henry was the devil incarnate. Yeah, it can get confusing for a kid so the kid (that's me) hit the books and just let history decide for me.

Seeing history books now come alive in sumptuous costumes and divine acting is mesmerizing for me. I understand history even better and I have a better and deeper appreciation for politics, religion, faith, and the relationship between a man and a woman. Yes, The Tudors will show you that! As the exceedingly bewitching and talented Natalie Dormer (who plays Anne Boleyn) said on her podcast on the website, "You're looking at such a turbulent time dramatically in history. All these fiercely strong charismatic individuals, be they Henry, More, Anne... the seriousness of the situation--the Reformation for C****'s sake--that they're faced with and what it does, they all handle it differently. And some come out of it better than others."

Too bad for Anne, she came out of it headless. Though she did end up the mother of her country's greatest monarch, Elizabeth I, and, without Henry realizing it, Anne was also the mother of the English Reformation. Of course, in the show, Pope Paul III (played by a really cool Peter O'Toole) realizes this and caustically remarks, "Why doesn't someone just get rid of her?" And Henry, the great hero of schism, unwittingly obeys him.

*The Tudor images from and Showtime. Book image from Blackwell Bookshop.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Guess where we're going...

... and the first correct answer gets a special prize!*

Vince and I are finally going on our honeymoon! After one year just setting up our new and beautiful home (yep, all our money went to the darn furniture), we've decided to be proper newlyweds and have sex in another land.

Now, we've always wanted to go to this place because...
1. the locals speak English so we don't need to learn another language
2. Vince spent his formative years there so it has a special place in his heart
3. I've always been fascinated with (and thoroughly studied) their history, especially their royals
4. I don't like beaches and wildlife. I'm a very urban girl. So we decided to visit a city.
5. Many of our most beloved authors, historical figures, and actors come from this land.

Well, we finally got our visas (that's another story for another day) and we bought our plane tickets yesterday and we're booking our hotel this weekend. I've been looking at many tourist sites till my eyes bleed, just planning the itinerary. We're both so so very very excited! A honeymoon!!! At last!!!

Here are the clues to where we're going:

This city is one of the oldest in the world and boasts of impressive centuries-old palaces, cathedrals and other magnificent architectural wonders.
Buckingham Palace

St. Paul's Cathedral

the bullet-shaped St. Mary Axe Tower

Many museums and parks figure prominently in this great urban center. It is also known for its theaters, street markets, pubs and pigeons! Oh, and did I mention the fabulous shopping???
St. James Park

pigeons at Trafalgar Square

Harrods and Harvey Nichols at Knightbridge

Some of the world's most iconic landmarks can be found here--from an imposing clock tower, a huge ferris wheel, and a bridge that kids sing is "falling down" to the Tube, red double-decker buses and charming phone booths painted in red.

Tower Bridge

double-decker red bus

the ever-efficient Underground Tube system

Those clues should be enough! So tell me...

Where will Vince and I spend our honeymoon?

The correct answer gets a bottle of Burberry's latest fragrance, Burberry The Beat (again, that's another clue since Burberry is an iconic brand from this city!).

*How to win:
1. Winner will be the first commenter to correctly guess where we're going.
2. Winner must have a Manila address since courier services don't ship perfume bottles. They explode in flight. So the winner will be the first commenter from Manila who guesses right!
3. Please comment in this format: your answer, your first name, city where you're from, and email address.
4. Please do not put your full name and delivery address in the comment box since this blog is not secure. If you put your personal info, I will not be responsible for any identity theft and other problems that may arise from your actions.
5. I will announce the winner in a blog entry on June 5.

*All city images from FreeFoto; Burberry image from Amazon

Monday, May 12, 2008

My wedding directory

My wedding was featured again last night on an ETC show. Actually, they were featuring Kate Torralba as a wedding gown designer but since Kate said I was her favorite bride, the show used photos from my wedding.

Now why was I Kate's favorite? No, it wasn't because I'm her friend. She liked me best because I wasn't a bridezilla and I let her do whatever she wanted. All I told her was the color motif and that I don't want to look like the traditional bride; instead I want to look like I'm on my way to the Oscars! When Kate showed me the initial sketches, I got scared--STRIPES! I was thinking, "Good lord, we're going to look like psychedelic zebras," but aloud I said, "Well, you're the designer, Kate, so you know better." Anyway, thank goodness I didn't impose myself on Kate because she came up with gowns that were incredibly beautiful.

Anyway, I'm making this post because I noticed that a lot of readers come to this blog because they were searching "wedding", "kate torralba", "archbishop's palace", "entourage gowns" on Google. Well, here's a list of our wedding suppliers. They come highly recommended and they are so very reasonable when it comes to prices. Have a happy wedding!

Ceremony: Contrary to its name, this is a small chapel, charming and near everything.
Villa San Miguel, Archbishop's Palace
438 Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City

Reception: Very classy and again, in the middle of everything. And the food is amazing.
Le Souffle at Fernando's
G/L Amorsolo Square, Amorsolo Drive, Rockwell Center

Photographer: He's the lifestyle photojournalist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer so his specialty is candid shots.
Chito Vecina
Unit 4D-4E Casa Bougainvilla 3834 Mascardo St., Pasong Tamo, Makati

Goldenhills Jewelry
Level 3A-053 Expansion Mall, Robinsons Galleria, EDSA cor. Ortigas Ave, QC
631-8146, 299-6122

Designer: No need to add anything! =D
Kate Torralba
Greenbelt 5, Makati

Tailor: He's the personal tailor of former President Erap Estrada! He charges an arm and a leg, though, but my groom (and my little pages) looked fabulous!
Napoleon Arienza

Makeup was done by my old high school friend. Love him!
Jigs Mayuga, Chief Makeup Artist for L'Oreal Paris

Hair was done by a friend, too. We didn't even have a trial session. Ney just made me look perfect from the get go :
Ney Guesse, Chief Hairstylist for L'Oreal Paris

Hair coloring: Louis is the best when it comes to hair color. Your hair will look like it's naturally that gorgeous. Even my husband tells me that he now appreciates Louis because he can tell which ones have bottle-colored hair!
Louis Phillip Kee
Louis Phillip Kee Salon
G/F One McKinley Place,
Bonifacio Global City

Florist: From the very beginning of our relationship, Vince got me flowers from Holland Tulips. It only made sense that they do our wedding!
Holland Tulips
807-7854, 809-2435

Stationery: I think they're the cheapest quality stationer in the country. Emphasis on quality.
QP Designs

Cake Artist: People talked about the wedding cake for weeks! They forgot everything else. That's how good the cake was.
Gel Colet

String Quartet: He's my brother, yes, but he's very very talented and will make any wedding special.
The Manila String Machine
Theodore Amper

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Crazy about Twilight!

By the way, I've also disappeared because I buried myself in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Vince is annoyed with me because all I do now is shout, "That's Edward's car!" whenever we pass by a Volvo showroom, "I became Edward and Bella's friend on Facebook today!", "Anyone who chooses a werewolf over a vampire is nuts!", "Kissing your best friend is cheating! You're an idiot, Bella!", "OMG, Kristen is Bella and Robert is Edward!"

If you didn't understand all that then I'm sure you'll agree with Vince who swears I've gone absolutely crazy. He thinks that I'm a little too old for the Twilight books, but he patiently went with me to bookstores as I put myself on several reservation lists for the fourth (and last?) book, Breaking Dawn. And I've also convinced about five people to read Twilight, and I hope through this blog, many many more will read the series (Hey, Stephenie, I ought to get a commission here!).

Now I'm not going to talk about the books at all. Suffice it to say that the plot goes a little something like this: simple city girl moves to a tiny town where she's strangely attracted to a ravishingly good-looking boy who happens to be a vampire who is dangerously attracted to her blood but because they fall in love he won't eat her up and so both of them have a seriously life-or-death relationship that I can't stand because the sexual tension is driving me crazy but they can't do it because she might end up as dinner! And that's just the start!!!

Darn. I can't wait for Breaking Dawn. I think I'll really go insane by the time August rolls around.

On a side note, because of Twilight, I really really want a Volvo. Then I watched Iron Man yesterday and now I desperately want an Audi. Okay, so I dream crazy, too, but you never know!

*images from Stephenie Meyer's official website

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Iron Man was AMAZING!

I absolutely loved Iron Man. Watched it today with Vince at Power Plant. He wanted to watch it because it was "one huge gadget fest." Being editor in chief of T3 Philippines, he must have thought that's it's a job requirement. I figured, since I'm an entertainment magazine editor myself, I should start watching movies while they're hot and not wait till there's a DVD out (I go to the bathroom often so I hate going to the movie theater--you can't push the pause button. True enough, I missed a few minutes of the movie because I had to run out and pee!).

Now before anyone thinks I thought that would be torture, let me assure you that I adore movies like that. I absolutely am a fan of X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, and the like. I love fantasy films, too, like the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars 5-6 trilogies, and the Harry Potter series. And I just watched Indiana Jones for the nth time, so I can be ready for the fourth one this month. I also like murder thrillers. I can passionately recite the dialog of Red Dragon and sing the Silence of the Lambs-inspired "It Rubs the Lotion on its Skin" in the shower-- to Vince's alarmed amusement. Meanwhile, you'll have to drag me to watch romantic comedies and any movie that addresses the inane issues of love (though I find that I like My Best Friend's Wedding and Love Actually very much). So, because I'm a big nerd and I married an even bigger nerd, today's movie date was happily anticipated.

I loved everything about Iron Man. I loved the action sequences. I loved the bass-heavy music. I loved the gadgets (yep, it was one huge gadget fest and a big commercial for Audi). I loved Robert Downey Jr! He really owned the role of Tony Stark. He made it believable, his performance was so naturally done. The actors were all very good, except I thought that Gwyneth Paltrow's role was a little too small for her stature. Pepper Potts is something for an up-and-comer to relish, although I must admit it was refreshing to see Gwyneth on the big screen again.

While I enjoyed the movie a lot, I was surprised at its message. The movie was obviously saying that weapons of mass destruction are evil. But I found myself startled when I teared up a bit at the scenes where the terrorists were killing villagers, bombing their homes, dragging women and children from each other, destroying lives. As a rule, I don't watch the news; selfish little me gets too disturbed. So to be suddenly confronted with images of war in a movie that I expected to be just fun, I was a bit overwhelmed. And I'm now thinking a lot about these refugees and what I can do to help them... Something Angelina Jolie and George Clooney failed to make me care about, a comic-book hero in an action movie did.

That's the magic of movies for you.

P.S. If you watched Silence of the Lambs, you really really ought to view the music video of "It Rubs the Lotion on Its Skin." So freakily fabulous! Sing with me now, "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again!"