Singapore, Six Years After

If money weren't an issue, my other vice -- aside from buying and reading books -- would probably be travelling. I like exploring new cultures, seeing sights, meeting new people and buying tons of pasalubong. I feel blessed that my profession afforded me occasional business trips both locally and internationally, although the latter is not as often. My last out-of-the-country business trip was nearly six years ago in Bangalore, India. 

In my relatively few international trips, Singapore was always the transfer point. There was something about that country I fell in love with enough for me to swear a vacation trip someday. No matter how hard I planned and even with budget airlines teasing of reasonable rates, it never happened. Well, I did say money was an issue. So imagine my surprise that I was recently sent for a business trip to Singapore wherein I stayed longer than my previous travels. I swore to myself that I should be able to explore the country more. With the help of a couple of colleagues who were as equally game as I was, I did. I saw more of Singapore than I did in my previous visits combined. And boy, so much has changed. I was telling my officemates how Singapore was different now: Orchard Road looks busier and brighter, the MRT system got better with a few more lines added, the taxi cabs got classier (imagine seeing maroon-colored Chevys), and there was more to see this time around. I focused my explorations to a few things and I can definitely say, I did most of them and more:

- Catch the Harry Potter Exhibition at the Art and Science Museum, Marina Bay Sands: I had to literally run through the huge Marina Bay Sands mall since I arrived on its last day. Not only did I see it, I also included a side trip to the Andy Warhol one a few levels up.

- Eat at Lau Pa Sat: Me and my colleagues has several lunches there since it was very near where our training was held. I even saw some Filipino stalls in it. Tapa King Singapore was the highlight.

- Pay homage to Kinokuniya: I visited all 3 branches of this bookstore. Seriously. That's how much I love that place. I was able to visit other bookstores, MPH and Prologue. I love books so this is just expected. I took a lot of pictures of books with UK covers because they're not available here.

- Roam around Sentosa: And roam around I did: through the Sentosa Express, free buses and beach trams. The heat was blistering and I'm not a fan of walking under such conditions so the free transportation modes were lovely. I didn't go in any of the attractions -- they were too expensive -- but I did see Po. He waved at me and that made me feel happy.

- Taste Xiao Long Bao: Not once, but twice. I ate at two Din Tai Fung branches. One off the bucket list.

- See Clarke Quay: The place where I stayed was a quick stroll away from this busy area. Every night, Clark Quay lights up. I was treated to several performances of the awesome belly dancers in one its middle-eastern restaurants. There were a lot of street performers too.

- Visited Chinatown: Finally! The place was so vibrant since the Mooncake festival just concluded when I arrived. The Chinese lanterns were so pretty and there were lots of cheap stuff.

And so much more. I've been back for only a few days and I miss the country already. I came back with so much work to do but I feel different. Being removed from your usual environment can do wonders. So here's to you Singapore, thank you for welcoming me back with open arms and for making me wish to see you again soon. Hopefully not after six years. ;)

A "Silog" Girl To The Bone

Hi there! How is your long weekend shaping up so far? I hope it was better than mine as I had to come in Monday for work so as to lessen the load when I get back on Wednesday.  Not that my long weekend didn't kick off well. In fact, it went off to a great start with the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference. I blogged about the event as a special feature on my review blog. I do hope you can check it out.

If my memory serves me right, this is the second long weekend after Holy Week since April 9, which happens to be Araw ng Kagitingan, fell on a Monday. I love long weekends because whenever I get to enjoy one, I always find time to cook myself (and even for my family) a really good breakfast.  When I started with my new job last year, having a decent breakfast on weekdays is hard to get by. Decent in my book means full and easy. Of all the meals in a day, breakfast is my favorite. I can manage to survive through lunch when I've had a decent breakfast. I work faster and face challenges with ease.

Photo courtesy of joyosity @
While I manage to get by until lunch with a cup of instant 3-in-1 coffee and a sandwich from the nearest Subway or Starbucks outlet, it doesn't satisfy me as much as my preferred breakfast fare which always includes eggs and fried rice. My relatives often describe my food preference as generally continental except for breakfast wherein it's very Filipino. My brother aptly put at one point, "kahit silog lang ang kainin niya sa umaga, masaya na siya (even if she only eats eggs and fried rice, she's happy)".  Silog, for those who may not know what it means, is a combination of the words "sinangag" (fried rice) and "itlog" (egg). Name every possible viand -- local/imported meats, dried fish/seafood, leftovers -- and I can eat them in the morning as long as "silog" is also served... Sometimes, I don't care what time of day it is, as long as I'm in the mood for "silog", I cook it. I go to my happy place every time I eat a serving.  In fact, I'm going to prepare one for myself as soon as I wake up in  a few hours. My all-time favorite silog combination: silog with Cebu danggit or Vigan longganisa, fresh tomato and onion slices in vinegar and fish sauce, and orange juice! My mouth just watered at the thought. Yummy!

How about you? How would you describe your best meal? :)

2012 Readercon Filipino Friday 5: Celebrating The Best

Wow, how time flies! I cannot believe it's Friday once again and it's the day before the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference! But before I fast forward to tomorrow, it's time for me to share my response to the final installment of...

And for this last one, it is all about Celebrating The Best...

In honor of the first Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards, let’s talk about our favorites for this year. What are your favorite books in 2012 so far? Have you read any awesome Filipino books in the year? If yes, make sure to include them in your list!

Since 2012 started, I've read a lot of good books but the one that takes my number one spot so far would be The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. The book is so good, so well-written that I think that everyone should get a copy. I gave it a 5/5 rating on Goodreads and posted a review on my other blog. The book practically solidified John Green as one of those authors on my must-buy, must-read list. And yes, if by some miracle he ever visits the Philippines, I wouldn't mind camping out for days if only to get all his books signed. For real.

As to Filipino books, I've added more to my plate this year. Most of what I've read so far are written by Mina V. Esguerra (pictured right), and I love each and every one of them. An officemate gave me Trese Books 1-4 as a gift, which I hope to start reading soon. Also, I've recently finished Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan, which will be discussed soon by our book group. And after viewing all the nominees for this year's 1st Filipino Readers' Choice Awards, it looks like I'll be adding more Filipino books in my to-read pile which is a good thing. Best of luck to my wallet though. =P


And with this last post ends this year's edition of the Filipino Friday meme. I'm glad I was still able to participate and I shall now count the hours until the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference: United We Read, which is tomorrow, August 18, at the Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City. For more details about the event, click on the badge below and it'll lead you to the Filipino ReaderCon homepage. Mabuhay ang mambabasang Pinoy! :)

2012 ReaderCon Filipino Friday 4: Books & Friends

It's Friday once again and you know what this means... especially for those who are counting the days until the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference on August 18... Today marks the 4th installment of...

And for this week's meme, the focus is about Books and Friends...

We will have book discussions hosted by several book clubs during the ReaderCon, so to prepare us for that, let’s talk about books and friendships and book clubs. Are you a part of a book club? If yes, what made you join one? What’s your favorite activity that you have with them? If you’re not a part of one, will you consider joining one? Why or why not?

I think I've been somewhat part of book clubs since I first created my online virtual library account a few years ago but I'm not as active. While it was fun getting to know strangers who liked the same books I did, I preferred to keep my interactions with them online. Perhaps it was largely because I wanted to keep my cyber life and real life separate. Not that they're different really but I often find it hard to explain to my non-bookworm friends how I meet other people, and sometimes I get really puzzled reactions on their faces, like "Are they for real?" or something to that effect. I'm a person who doesn't really like complications so drawing that line helps.

That is, until late last year, when me and a few friends decided to form a book club. It made sense and felt like a natural thing to do since all of us became friends through fandom groups based on a few popular book series. Now with eight books discussed and more coming our plate, our little book club -- if anything -- strengthened our ties and our love for books further. Since we're relatively new and currently private, our discussions -- often held either over several cups of coffee or frozen yogurt with print books, laptops, tabs and eReaders in tow -- are quite healthy; thoughts and opinions are exchanged without censorship but still with due respect. In every discussion, the book is the star of the show. Since our first discussion, our book group has grown from reading books of a particular genre to sampling what the other members liked (or do not like). It allowed for each of us to expand our reading horizons and in a way, made us love reading even more. I couldn't ask for anything else in a book group and I'm sure my co-members, if and when they do read this, would agree.

While our current day jobs provide challenges to our monthly meet-ups, I look forward to every single one of them because, not only does it afford an opportunity to discuss a new book, but also it is an avenue for all to us to catch up with each other. Although I think I will always be a reader, being part of a book club with these great friends elevates that experience.


And that's it for this week's Filipino Friday meme. Do check out the last installment next week and if you're available, be part of the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference on August 18, 2012 at the Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City.

2012 ReaderCon: Filipino Friday 1-3

I guess it's safe to say that I've been living under a big rock (that is my work) for quite sometime that this nearly passed my radar. I did say at one point that I hardly do meme posts but I loved Filipino Friday last year that I wouldn't miss a chance to do it again. So apologies for my three-peat post but I'd rather do it than never.

Just to refresh you about Filipino Friday, it started as a meme series aimed to promote the 1st Filipino Reader Conference last year at the Manila International Book Fair. However, this initiative was successful in the sense that it connected book bloggers and enthusiasts both here and abroad. It's no surprise that a 2012 edition is up and without further ado, here are my answers to its first three memes...


Filipino Friday 1: Introductions
As with every start of a weekly meme, we need to know a bit about you! Talk about your top 3-5 (or more!) favorite books of all time, the genres you read and would never read, the books that surprised you this year. You can also talk about how you became a reader and why you love it so much! And finally, if you were in the ReaderCon last year, talk about your experience too! If you weren’t there, but you’re planning to go this year, then what do you expect for the upcoming ReaderCon?

As this is not my first time to do this Filipino Friday meme, I'll probably just answer questions in this meme that I haven't answered last year. You can click on this link to see all my 2011 Filipino Friday posts.

Top 3-5 favorite books of all time...

If my books were my kids, they'd probably hate me for choosing a favorite as even those that I enjoyed the most only gets read twice. But I secretly have three books that I never get tired of reading, if you were to gauge by their current state, dog ears and all.

The first is The Feng Shui Junkie by Brian Gallagher. It's perhaps the book that I always lobby to my friends who are also book enthusiasts. It tells of a lawyer named Julie who finds her husband cheating on a girl who happens to be a Feng Shui junkie. The book narrates of her scheming plot to wreak havoc on her husband's mistress only to learn that there's something more than meets the eye. I think I've read this book about... uh... more times that I can count. I lost my original copy through the lending route which frustrated me since it's already out of print. Good thing I found another copy in a book sale pile and I never lent it since.

My second favorite book is Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. I've read it several times and with each time, it never fails to make me cry. It's like watching all the Carl & Ellie moments in Up; the book pinches you in the right places and it made me love/honor my profession more.

My third favorite would be A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. For me, it's romance/comedy at its best. Even with the aspect of fairies and witches, I loved the dynamics of the protagonists, especially Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius.

The book that surprised me this year...

Perhaps the book that takes this award would be The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I haven't really read a book that talks about the Big C but this one was gut-wrenching yet heart-warming. So far, it's the only book this year that made me cry buckets. The runner-up would probably be Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, only because I found myself still hoping for a different ending until its last few pages despite knowing otherwise.

The Filipino Reader Conference, before and after...

I was there last year along with a couple of friends, and I had fun! It was great to see people who were as equally invested in reading as I was and I enjoyed the panels. Since then, I've expanded my reading plate to include more fiction written by Filipino authors, put up another blog that partly features book news and reviews, and have formed a book club with a few friends. I liked my first ReaderCon experience a lot that I'm looking forward to it this year. And gauging by this year's program line-up, it looks great and definitely worthwhile. However, what makes this year's ReaderCon more interesting (and a bit nerve-wracking) for me is that our book club was invited to host a live discussion. Gulp! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that.


Filipino Friday 2: School of Reading
We all started reading somewhere, and more often than not, we were influenced by someone. Who got you into reading? Your parents? A friend? A librarian? One teacher who always lends out his/her books? How helpful was your school in helping your reading habit / fueling your book addiction?

I think my parents in some ways got me into reading because I would always see them reading a book or two when I was younger. I remember being surrounded with all sorts of story books and my mother, whenever she could, would read them to me. It only became a habit though during first grade after I was ostracized by my classmates for not being able to speaking Filipino/Tagalog well that in my haste to get away from them, I stumbled into our school library. Since then, I became one of its frequent patrons. I really didn't have money for books then thus the school library was my only source. When my parents saw that I was bringing home books to read on top of what was required in school, they encouraged that habit by allowing me to buy one book per month. However, I wonder if my parents somewhat regret supporting that habit given the number of books I have in my room, both read and unread.


Filipino Friday 3: Reading Habits and Book Formats
Where and how do you read? Can you read anywhere and everywhere, or do you need a certain place/mood/state of mind to get reading? Do you read more in the morning or at night or any minute that you can? Where and how do you usually read? Are you exclusively for print, or do you go for ebooks more than print? Have you ever tried audiobooks?

I'm the kind of person that can read anytime, anywhere as long as I feel like it. Lately, most of my reading is done during my morning commute because it takes an average of 1.5 hours to get to my office from where I live. On long weekends or holidays, I can finish around 2-3 books. I usually read in my room, and sometimes, a pint of semi-soft ice cream and a bag of chips will be nearby. I've always considered myself to be traditional reader, mostly going for print books because I like the feel of holding one. However, with the decreasing space for books in my room and the installation of Kindle for PC in my laptop, ebooks have become part of my reading pile. My goal before this year ends is to buy myself a Kindle Fire since I couldn't really bring my laptop during my daily commute. I tried audiobooks before but unfortunately, I don't have enough time or luxury to get through or even finish one. I wish I could though since there are a lot of really good audiobooks out there that I'd like to listen to.


And I've made it! Goodness, I did a three-peat meme post last year and this year too. Hahaha. Hope enjoyed reading this post and if you can, do join the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference: United We Read on August 18, 2012 at the Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City. I know I will. :)

Shed The Tears, Remember The Laughter

I know it's been a while since I've written here. Having my other blog has kept me busy aside from work. However, I felt it's fitting to revisit this blog again, being my first and the longest. And for my 101st post, I am going to honor someone who I don't know personally but has been one of those who never fails to make me smile: Dolphy.

Today, Rodolfo Vera Quizon Sr. -- Dolphy to most Filipinos -- was finally laid to rest. I learned of his passing while I was burning the midnight oil at work, learning the ropes of my new role. I was stunned because there were reports that he was getting better the night before, that he was going to be discharged from the hospital. It was all so sudden that it reminded me so much about how my maternal grandmother passed away. It was very similar that I couldn't help but shed a few tears. I was reminded of how much Dolphy figured in my life. I literally grew up watching his shows and movies, even those shown in the 50s & 60s. Facifica Falayfay. John Puruntong. Kevin Cosme. Each and every role he did was memorable so I guess it's no surprise if the nation is mourning. It is a loss indeed but heaven gained a soul whose energy and presence are as bright and luminous as the sun. I can just imagine him and his fellow Pinoy comedians that went before him staging a reunion stand-up show right now, its awesomeness unmatched.

So I end this post by saying, thank you and may you rest in peace, Mang Dolphy. I may shed tears now but I will always remember the laughter. Growing up with your presence in Philippine Showbiz has been a wonderful experience. I hope that the new generation of Pinoys will discover and adore you as much as I did and always will.

RIP Rodolfo Vera Quizon, Sr. (Dolphy)
July 25, 1928 - July 10, 2012

Driving Me Nuts, This One

I was seriously debating whether I should post this here or on my review blog. For now, all I want to do is to rave about it... And rave about it, I shall.

Ok Go came into my consciousness nearly six years ago after they released this slick and jaw-dropping video for a track off their Oh No album entitled Here It Goes Again. I mean, how can one not be in awe of it...

This year, Ok Go, outdid themselves again with their music video for Needing/Getting, the fourth track from their latest studio album, Of The Blue Color Of The Sky. Check out the video to see the band's unique brand of awesomeness, with nearly 3.5 million views under its belt:

I am so glad the guys haven't lost their craziness. And the song is not bad either. :)

When Authors Reply

Chachic Fernandez once said... well, tweeted...

I think every book blogger friend that I know gets a thrill when authors respond to their tweets and/or book reviews. I mean, who doesn't? As I just started on my other blog, I wonder how would the people of whose works I review would feel. Then again, I hardly care. I still practice some measure of restraint though because I don't want to deal with this kind of drama. Seriously.

Of all the authors that I follow on Twitter, perhaps the most fan responsive is Michelle Zink (@MichelleZink). I've had a couple of occasions wherein I would tweet her about my reading progress for the Prophecy of the Sisters series and she replies as much as she can.  Since then, she is on my "must-read, must-buy" list and I'm so excited to grab a copy of A Temptation of Angels this March. I'm quite sure, like the Prophecy of the Sisters, I would have a hard time putting it down.  She is honestly that good.

As to the authors I've met in person -- like Lauren Kate, Samantha Sotto and Alexander Yates -- I haven't encountered a single one who's not fan responsive as well as level-headed when dealing with not-so-pleasant reviews about their books. The latter is not an easy feat if you consider the drama I just linked a few sentences ago. For that, I salute them.

Most recently, I have witnessed how YA authors are generally responsive and enthusiastic with each other and their fans.  Last January 23, 2012 (22 in the US), the ALA Youth Media Awards -- Libba Bray calls it as "the Oscars for books" -- was held in Dallas, Texas. Tweets and re-tweets of congratulations and thank-yous from one YA author to another and to their fans were so fun to see on my feed; it felt like you're part of their conversation even if you're on the other side of the world. It also shows how closely knit and mutually supportive they are. The winners' list is quite impressive and I saw a couple of authors that I'm following won awards, which prompted me to congratulate them without any expectations. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

(click to see image in full)

Why, you're welcome, Ms. Morgenstern! It's an honor to hear from you. Cheers!

2012 is starting out nicely.  Here's wishing more fun encounters with authors here and overseas.

Nothing But Reviews

After months of not knowing when my other blog would go up, I have finally managed to publish my first review post today.  Woohoo!  Thank goodness for long weekends. :D

I know you'd probably be wondering what will happen to this blog and to my other one in Tumblr. Well, I did say at some point that managing 2-3 blogs may be challenging... but, if anything, what would make each blog succeed depends largely on the material. I can say that all my 3 blogs feature unique posts thus I think I'm going to be fine. However, with this, comes the realization that I'm going to say hello to some more sleepless nights because if I do intend to keep all 3 blogs running, thinking about new material will keep me pre-occupied.

While I still have a lot to do with my new blog, I'm happy to join a gazillion other bloggers who have chosen WordPress. If you'd like to check out my new blog, which will feature mostly reviews, click here.

P.S.  As I was about to finish this post, I noticed that two bloggers liked my first review.  How's that for some encouragement? Nice indeed! :)

Pop Goes My Brain

What I love the most about my current profession is how learning heavily figures in it.  While majority of my time is spent facilitating the learning of other people, it feels good to learn new things as well.  And that's saying a lot since attending courses is often pretty rare for me.  I woe at the irony of it.  My last formal training was almost a year and a half ago which I wrote about here.

I went through a new training at the start of this year; something specific to my current company.  It was a huge eye-opener in a lot of ways.  I appreciated my role more and I realized that we needed to go back to basics.  There were keys tasks that are already ignored and mindsets that needed to be changed. In the end -- where I found myself drowning my exhaustion with several cans of Coke Zero, no longer caring about adding more pounds to what I gained from all the food I ate -- it made me wonder why people have succumbed to the pattern I came to experience. I knew my work was cut out for me when I signed the contract but I didn't realize that it would require a whole box of surgical gloves.  I guess it's time to stretch the latex.

Your Love Is My Turning Page

It's been a while since I made a post about a song I liked.  The last one was about Madonna's Take A Bow.   While I do have plans to feature music that I rave about on my still-in-production review blog, I couldn't resist writing a post about this one.  The song is so compellingly beautiful that you find yourself wishing you're the one for whom it is being dedicated to. Well, at least, I knew I did.

Turning Page by Sleeping At Last is included in the original motion picture soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.  While it wasn't launched with the same fanfare as It Will Rain by Bruno Mars or A Thousand Years by Christina Perri, the song became memorable because of a particular scene in the movie (which I'm not telling for spoiler reasons).  It was short when I heard it for the first time (typical for a song used in a scene) but it was perhaps one of the most notable tracks among the movies I watched last year.  The song catches you with its arrangement: the piano sounds achingly wonderful and the lyrics reads like an ode to true love.

About a month ago, Sleeping At Last shared a live performance of the song. Like fine wine, it just got better.  Here's a video of the live performance and the full lyrics below.  Hope you enjoy it. Happy weekend!

Turning Page by Sleeping At Last

I've waited a hundred years
But I'd wait a million more for you
Nothing prepared me for the privilege of being yours would do

If I had only felt the warmth within your touch
If I had only seen how you smile when you blush
Or how you curl your lip when you concentrate enough
I would have known what I was living for all along
What I've been living for

Your love is my turning page
Only the sweetest words remain
Every kiss is a cursive line
Every touch is a redefining phrase

I surrender who I've been for who you are
For nothing makes me stronger than your fragile heart
If I had only felt how it feels to be yours
Well, I would have known what I've been living for all along
What I've been living for

Though we're tethered to the story we must tell
When I saw you
Well, I knew we'd tell it well
With a whisper, we will tame the vicious seas
Like a feather bringing kingdoms to their knees

My Life In 2011 Through The Songs I Listened To

Image Credit: ~Juu97 via deviantART
I guess by this time you'll know that I'm a girl with many hobbies/interests: taking photographs, watching movies (and even TV series although I somewhat neglected that lately), reading books among others.  Listening to music is another hobby/interest that keeps me pre-occupied and something that I cannot live without.

My love for music started since I was a baby, if I were to believe my mother's story.  While we were by no means musically-inclined, both my parents were your typical audiophiles: they listened to the radio, liked certain songs and often found themselves singing along with it.  I remember growing up in a household that played a lot of 50s, 60s & 70s pop music.  The first song I memorized was If I Should Love Again by Barry Manilow.

Since then, music defined my life in so many ways.  It may surprise some but I used to be such an introvert and back then, music was my only outlet for my joys and pains.  I would spend hard-saved lunch money on song books and sit by the radio just to hear my favorite song play.  The first gadget that I bought when I was working was a portable CD player.  Technology and the Internet helped shaped how I listen to songs lately as it allowed for more variety.  In fact, when I purchased my first mobile phone, its music feature was a huge factor.  While I still don't have an iPod to this day, my current mobile phone suffices my need to play music whenever and wherever I go.  As I'm writing this, I'm listening to my latest downloaded track.

When I looked at my mobile phone playlist, I added at total of 78 new songs this year: most of which I discovered through movie and TV soundtracks.  There were returning faves and new artists.  And a good number of them were played at least 20 times (or until I get tired).  I won't feature all 78 tracks -- that will be such a lengthy post -- but I will feature My Top 5 Most Played Songs and why I never got tired of them:

Just A Kiss by Lady Antebellum

Just a shot in the dark that you just might
Be the one I've been waiting for my whole life
So baby I'm alright, with a kiss goodnight

From the moment I heard those lyrics, I was gone. Literally.  I remembered moments when I cried while listening to it.  The arrangement was great. Perhaps, this song solidified how much I loved the band since the release of their other notable single, Need You Now.

Panic Switch by Silversun Pickups

If I go anywhere you'd want me to go,
How will I know if you'll still follow?

The trailer for Sucker Punch was perhaps one of my most watched in 2010.  When I caught wind of this song's beat, I googled my way to finding and listening to the whole song.  I wasn't disappointed.  If I'm throwing myself into mindless but quick encoding or designing a PowerPoint presentation, this song would perhaps be on repeat alongside Clocks by Coldplay.

Future Starts Slow by The Kills

There's a time for the second best
And there's a time when the feeling's gone
But it's hard to be hard, I guess
When you're shaking like a dog

Since I discovered Sour Cherry on Gossip Girl, this duo has been on my music must-have list. I'm just annoyed that the only CD available in the market is Midnight Bloom; I still have to get my hands on their first two albums: Keep On Your Mean Side and No Wow. And with the release of their latest album, Blood Pressures, I'm getting frustrated. Come on record bars, stock those darn CDs please.

Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera

Maybe it's hard
When you feel like you're broken and scarred
Nothing feels right
But when you're with me
I make you believe
That I've got the key

That whistling sound at the start is unmistakable.  It's like a secret code that's captures your full attention and makes you suddenly tap your feet to its beat.  And for less than four minutes, you entertain the notion that maybe you do have Mick's moves.  Now that's how a song becomes memorable and, if you're a fan, it makes you happy that Maroon 5 hasn't lost its thunder.

Rolling In The Deep by Adele

See how I'll leave with every piece of you
Don't underestimate the things that I will do
There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark

Perhaps every local singer I know, good or bad, covered this song in every conceivable entertainment show since it was released.  Word of advise: Stop it.  Not only are you ruining the song, but you're equally destroying your street cred.  Leave it to be sung by Adele.  It was meant to be that way.  Enough said.

I hope you enjoyed all of my recap posts and I'm looking forward to more of the good stuff this 2012.  Cheers! :D

My Life In 2011 Through The Books I Read & Bought

I did say in an earlier post that if get inspired, I'll make another blog.  And so here it is.  Luckily, it's not as taxing to make as my earlier post.  However, in its own way, it did tax me... or my wallet.

I have a confession to make: I am a book hoarder.  If I were to gauge by the number of books that I just sorted and cleaned up yesterday, they are a lot for my room to fit in.  My book blogger friends -- you know who you are -- would argue that they're still by no means the same volume as theirs, to which I agree.  As I'm surveying my room, I'm counting five plastic crates... Five. Plastic. Crates! And I remember seeing more than a handful of stray ones in our living room. Oh dear.

I remembered in 2010, I gave myself a goal: not to buy a lot of books because of my space dilemma.  I made a list, which I kept, followed and succeed. So I thought 2011 would be a cinch. I knew this year would really put a dent in my pocket but I wanted to keep myself in check. So I made a list.  I kept it.  Unfortunately, I didn't follow it.  In fact, I exceeded and got a total of 35 books (3 of which were gifts by the way)!  Jeez, it sounds like I rebounded from rehab.  Hahaha. Here's a snapshot of the books I owned (bought or given) in 2011 as seen in my Goodreads account:

(click to see the above image in full)

2011 marks the year wherein I've read the most number of books since I got caught in the corporate jungle.  My day job hardly affords me any time to read so finishing any non-work related book is quite an achievement.  I can still remember my 2006 dry spell and I don't want that to happen again.  I gave myself a 15-book reading challenge at the start of 2011.  My total read books: 20!  Woohoo.  I am so proud of myself.  And I thought that was impossible since I switched jobs.  Thank goodness for long commute rides.   Here's a snapshot of the books I read as seen in my Goodreads account:

(click to see the above image in full)

In some ways, I found all this to be a good thing because I was introduced to a whole lot of authors and my reading palate became more diverse. 2011 also became the year where I met more authors and got my books signed; I loved seeing one again (Hello Lauren Kate!) and meeting two new authors who were such great individuals, very enthusiastic about their work (Hello Samantha Sotto & Alexander Yates!).  I followed more authors this year on Twitter (Hello John Green, Gayle Forman, Scott Westerfeld, Erin Morgenstern and Laini Taylor!) and listed more books on my Goodreads wishlist.

Suffice to say, my love for reading is back in full force and I have no intentions of stopping any time soon.  It helps that I'm actively part of a club with a few friends who meet regularly to discuss and recommend books.  So I guess my target of 20 books for 2012 would be a cinch?  I truly hope.  And about my space problem? I'm thinking about donating, if not re-selling, some of my books.  I'm thankful for my Kindle for PC app but since I can't bring Sydney while I commute, getting a Kindle soon is becoming a priority.

My Life In 2011 Through The Movies I Watched

Happy New Year friends! Hope the smog hasn't gotten to you as much as I did. I've been in my room for perhaps the whole day and I'm not exactly looking forward to going to work tomorrow (because it's too soon).  To distract me, I prepared this 2011 recap post.  You may remember that I made a similar one last year.  I liked doing it so much then that I want it to be a regular thing.  This year though, I plan to amp it up by adding two recap posts but for books and music.  Hopefully, these will be up in the next few days... or hours... depending on how inspired I get.

Without further ado, here's my life in 2011 through the movies I watched.  Enjoy!

(click to see above image in full)

January 8 - The Tourist
(This movie kept me thinking until the end.)

January 22 - Tangled
(Perhaps the only movie musical that I've watched so far in ages. And yes, I didn't cringe! How could I when I am swooned by the voice of Zachary Levi. Teehee!)

March 5 - Just Go With It
(There wasn't any new movies showing that week. I remembered Meann and I choosing between this and I Am Number Four. Well, obviously, you know what we both chose and neither of us regretted it.)

March 13 - Red Riding Hood
(I wanted to read the book before watching this. After I watched it, I fell in love with Billy Burke more. And I liked Max Irons. I do have a copy of the book; unfortunately, it is still unread.)

March 19 - Rango
(This is for me the best animation movie I've seen. Story-wise, it was compelling.)

March 21 - Sucker Punch
March 26 - Sucker Punch
(Like in my post last year, I have the habit of watching movies more than once. This was no exception. And I'm a proud owner of this book and I won this shirt from New Worlds.)

April 19 - Arthur
(I will admit to not being a big Russell Brand fan but this made me laugh and cry. The geeky, movie cars were awesome.)

April 28 - Water For Elephants
(Thanks to our fairy godmother, I saw this in an advanced screening together with 4 other Robert Pattinson fans.  My friends know that I'm a fan of his so anything he makes, I'll see.  To this day, I regret not seeing Remember Me in the cinemas.)

April 30 - Thor
(If only because I wanted to see Chris Hemsworth in 3D, I made an exception to my Northern allergy and saw this. While this takes my favorite movie of the year award, my only wish: extra 20 feet for maximum ab exposure. =P)

May 31 - Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
(If anyone questions how much I love Johnny Depp, this should be proof that I do. It's the third movie of him that I've seen; that's like an average of 1 Johnny Depp fix every 2 months. Not bad at all.)

June 4 - Kung Fu Panda 2
(This was our company's family day offering. I joined the first screening. I laughed and cried all the way until the end. Keeping my fingers crossed for a 3rd installment.)

June 4 - X-Men First Class
(Since I wasn't contented with Kung Fu Panda 2, I watched this with a couple of friends who swear by Charles/Erik's or James McAvoy/Michael Fassbender's powerful chemistry. I was equally hooked. The duo takes the Best On-Screen Couple of the Year award for me. :D)

June 20 - Super 8
(I loved this movie but if there's one thing I learned, I shouldn't have watched this alone.)

July 9 - Temptation Island
(I loved the original; I loved this remake too. And the crowd that my friends and I were with in the cinema... tres chic!)

August 6 - Cowboys & Aliens
(Having seen Super 8 a few months before, my enthusiasm watered down a bit. Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig easily changed my mind.)

August 13 - Captain America, The First Avenger
(Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan. Need I say more? :D)

September 3 - Zombadings 1: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington
(My 2nd Filipino movie for the year! And that is awesome by my standards. It didn't hurt that Meann and I saw Martin Escudero at the end of our screening. Here's proof.)

September 8 - Contagion
(Kate Winslet. Jude Law. Gwyneth Paltrow. Marion Cotillard. Matt Damon. Laurence Fishburne. An all-star cast movie directed by Steven Soderbergh. I've seen similar kinds of movies but this works. So bravo!)

September 24 - Abduction
(Taylor Lautner's first starring role after shooting The Twilight Saga franchise. Not bad; not good either. More movies would do the trick.)

October 22 - The Three Musketeers
(Matthew Macfadyen + Logan Lerman + Orlando Bloom as a bad ass = MAJOR LEAGUE EYE CANDY! The chemistry between D'Artagnan/King Louis XIII is my runner-up for the Best On-Screen Couple of the Year award.)

November 17 - The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
November 18 - The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
(Breaking Dawn, the book, is my 2nd favorite in the series so you can imagine my anticipation. I think Bill Condon and Melissa Rosenberg did their best to adapt this. I was entertained.  However, if I were to rank the four movies, this unfortunately takes the last slot for me.)

December 10 - Immortals
(Luke Evans. I sigh as I say your name. Not that I don't like Sean Bean but can you be Zeus in the next installment of Percy Jackson? Pretty please?)

December 17 - Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol
(I love you, Simon Pegg! You were made to be seen in IMAX.)

When I reviewed my last year's post, I watched a total of 17 movies.  This year? 23 movies! Woohoo!  I hope to see more this 2012. And this nifty sequel below would be the first one on my list...

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