Remembering Mommy

1 11 2014

THERE ARE moments in my childhood that have stayed with me for like, forever.  No matter how far my road leads me from where I started, I thank my memories for always bringing me back.

I am the self–proclaimed guardian of traditions – I almost said Galaxy! – when my brothers and I were little.  I participated in all the Roman Catholic feasts and I always tagged along with Mommy, my maternal grandmother.  We were together for Night Masses at Christmas time, and the procession at dawn on Easter Sunday.  On a day like today, November 1ST, we would’ve gotten up quite early to go to the cemetery to pay our respects at my grandfather’s tomb, which we would’ve tidied up a few days before.

It’s been a year and a half since she had passed.  And today I remember her.  Not that I don’t think about her often.  Because I still do.  And I do love the fact that I always see her in my dreams.  In all those dreams, I’d be very much aware that she is already gone – she actually points it out sometimes – but each has always been a cheerful meeting.

And like the proper lady that she has always been, she’d say towards the end, “I’ve got to go.”

I miss you, Mommy.

I travel with a number of choice photographs.  A couple of them are shown here.  That's favorite photo of Mommy, side by side with that of one of her great grandchildren.  This was taken from my desk somewhere in Boise, Idaho.

I travel with a number of choice photographs. A couple of them are shown here. That’s favorite photo of Mommy, side by side with that of one of her great grandchildren. This was taken from my desk somewhere in Boise, Idaho.

 

My most recent quiet time with Mommy.  Well, outside the realm of my dreams.

My most recent quiet time with Mommy. Well, outside the realm of my dreams.

 

When I'd visit her before, she would make it a point to ask, "Anong relo suot mo?" ("What watch are you wearing?")  I know, she sounds like the Fashion Police.  I know exactly which her favorite wrist watch was.

When I’d visit her before, she would make it a point to ask, “Anong relo suot mo?” (“What watch are you wearing?”) I know, she sounds like the Fashion Police. I know exactly which her favorite wrist watch was.

 

"Hi Mommy, I miss you.  By the way, it's a Technomarine I'm wearing to see you today."

“Hi Mommy, I miss you. By the way, it’s a Technomarine I’m wearing to see you today.”

 

"Mommy, let's take a selfie together."

“Mommy, let’s take a selfie together.”

 

“Well, it’s time to go, Mommy. I’ll see you again next time. Or let’s meet and chat again in my dreams!”

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Frankly speaking

18 10 2014

THE VITRINE had literally vanished from my field of view with the intensity – and it has to be said, some semblance of a most deep longing – at which I stayed transfixed at this then newly unveiled time teller.  The debate in my head had drowned the sales associate’s repeated enquiries (“Sir, do you want to try it on?”), limiting my multi–tasking to only gazing at the object’s rather unusual dial with a consuming, tempestuous, fervent desire I had only read about in books.  Until then.

The limited edition "FRANK GEHRY with FOSSIL" GH–1011, with a solid titanium case and a mirror dial

The limited edition “FRANK GEHRY with FOSSIL” GH–1011, with a solid titanium case and a mirror dial

Yet, I passed up on the opportunity to strap it on – the limited edition FRANK GEHRY with FOSSIL wristwatch.  The year was 2004.  And it has turned out to be a regret that shall haunt me through these years, especially since it has proven to be so elusive, inexistent even in the deepest recesses of the connected cyberspace.

It was as if I was living with a frazzled fate built upon the thought that I shall never come across such a beautiful ticktocker ever again.

Fast forward to 10 years hence, an assignment in the City of Trees, a fateful visit to Google, and a serendipitous tickling of the keyboard.  I secured the find, breathless in anticipation all throughout the three–day wait for the auction to close, and with the reckless abandon I would channel at karaoke, blurted out. “the search is over.”  Haha!

I have the utmost respect for architects, and clearly for their collaborations with mainstream brands.  Frank Gehry the American–Canadian famous for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, among many other works that include his house in Santa Monica, California, is at the pinnacle of my list.

A recent feature on Singapore's The Straits Times, "HEAD OF THE CURVE" by Natasha Ann Zachariah brought Frank Gehry – and the wrist watch he designed for FOSSIL – back to mind.

A recent feature on Singapore’s The Straits Times, “HEAD OF THE CURVE” by Natasha Ann Zachariah brought Frank Gehry – and the wrist watch he designed for FOSSIL – back to mind.

 

One of Frank Gehry's more recent projects is for Louis Vuitton!

One of Frank Gehry’s more recent projects is for Louis Vuitton!

Finding the FRANK GEHRY with FOSSIL GH–1011, with a solid titanium case and a mirror dial, felt like an accomplishment.  I wore it first to the opening of The Amazing Spider–Man at the downtown Edwards Cinemas, and then tucked it away in its box.

The watch comes in a most beautiful metal box!

The watch comes in a most beautiful metal box!

 

Don't you just love all the things they put on the back of the watch?  I mean, except when it's an automatic and an exhibition caseback.  Haha!  Notice that this says, "solid titanium case"?  That's why it looks hefty but is nowhere near heavy at all.

Don’t you just love all the things they put on the back of the watch? I mean, except when it’s an automatic and an exhibition caseback. Haha! Notice that this says, “solid titanium case”? That’s why it looks hefty but is nowhere near heavy at all.

 

The inscription on the casual center bar metal buckle is just a lovely touch.

The inscription on the casual center bar metal buckle is just a lovely touch.

 

I saw this wall at Edward's and couldn't help but scream, "I blend!!!"  Haha!  Ok, the proper caption here is that the first time I wore the wrist watch was to the opening screening of The Amazing Spider-Man.

I saw this wall at Edward’s and couldn’t help but scream, “I blend!!!” Haha! Ok, the proper caption here is that the first time I wore the wrist watch was to the opening screening of The Amazing Spider-Man.

I had long professed that for me, the wrist watch is my ultimate material expression of the highest regard I could give someone.  So I would be the least surprised if I’d give this away.  The thrill of the find – after all – had been satiated.

I find that the beauty of this design lies in the imperfection of the handwriting, which to me is the art that is really endangered ("Tell me, when was the last time you wrote something by hand?  Signing the credit card receipt doesn't count!").  I just love Gehry's "signature" and the way the hour markers really have the handwritten feel.

I find that the beauty of this design lies in the imperfection of the handwriting, which to me is the art that is really endangered (“Tell me, when was the last time you wrote something by hand? Signing the credit card receipt doesn’t count!”). I just love Gehry’s “signature” and the way the hour markers really have the handwritten feel.

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Kuya Mike and pasta

29 06 2013

THE DIFFERENCE in time zones is the loophole of lapses in thoughtfulness.  Clearly, I mean this about friends who have oceans between them – blame it on the time zone, so to speak.  If this post had made it to the third week of May or at most the one after that, then I would claim my opening sentence to be nothing but absolute truth.  Or, at least my scapegoat.  But this post obviously is more of the really belated kind.  No loophole could justify the delay.

Well, I guess there’s one – I actually know when his birthday is, independent of any post on his facebook wall, and I always remember to greet him.  But then again, it is indeed way too late.

So let this be just one of those posts about my few but well thought out friendships.  It’s coming at a time when the cinemas are rumbling with the 40–minute pivotal action sequence in one of the more definitive superhero movies of our time.  So clearly, this post that talks about one of the superheroes in my life, is quite appropriate.

I’ve never really seen any of the cinematic installments but from what I’ve read about Tony Stark, it’s Kuya Mike who embodies him the most among my friends.  We came to Singapore together, had our first day at our new jobs together, and have since been waging our battles together.

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Kuya Mike a.k.a. Iron Man clearly drives for Scuderia Ferrari!

It’s amazing the clarity that comes with being down on your luck or just unexplainably sad.  You realize who your real friends are.  And you resolve to do your best to keep them.

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Linguine ai Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio (Linguine with Seafood “in the bag”). This has turned out to be Iron Man’s favorite pasta dish!

 

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I saw this pile first thing one morning and I knew that Iron Man was back for his hectic, full-packed two-week break from his assignment on the isle of Sicily. I said in jest that his “pasalubong” for me has had a consistent theme – an “I heart (place)” item and a… notebook! The one the chocolates are on came from his layover in Amsterdam.

I’m quite thankful to be really close friends with Kuya Mike.  That is, Iron Man.  Over a week ago, he took a Royal Dutch Airlines flight back to Italia.  I’m quite happy that he has this chance to enjoy God’s creation in a totally different place.  He deserves every good opportunity that comes his way.

And my special, limited edition airport send–off service.  Hahaha!

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Every airport send-off starts with a snapshot of the control tower as our taxi approaches. My trusty Canon IXUS 860IS really does have great stabilizer.

 

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We’ve arrived! It has to be said that Iron Man may seem to be the conscientious traveler. But he actually travels quite light, packing everything efficiently. If I were to go to Italia, I’d probably lug around twice as much. Haha!

 

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While Iron Man fusses over his stuff for one final accounting before checking in, my attention was demanded by this dynamic work of art. I didn’t bother to check its name out just yet. All I could make of them at the time was that they seemed to be golden droplets of rain making beautiful patterns suspended in the sky.

 

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Here are those golden rain drops, suspended on parallel planes. Observing my being mesmerized, Iron Man quipped, “Boss, ngayon mo lang nakita yan?” (Boss, you’re just noticing that now?)

 

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Iron Man took the Royal Dutch Airlines.

 

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Trust Audemars to give accurate time check. Iron Man’s flight leaves past midnight.

 

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The blogger and the superhero. That’s Iron Man at the check-in counter.

 

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Something in common with Iron Man: We travel in shorts!

 

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I asked him to post for a photo in front of numbers “3” and “4”, two of my favorites.

 

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Like with most of those I had sent off at the airport, the first post-check-in activity involves… F–O–O–D.

 

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I realize that I have been in Singapore for two years, yet I haven’t been to Aston’s. This dinner with Iron Man was only my second time at the place – in the space of two days! It felt like a revenge for missing out. Both were such treats.

 

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I loved this chalk work on the board that I asked permission to photograph it. (Lest the store manager screams, “No photo please!”)

 

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It was departure time so Iron Man was fielding text messages that were coming in a-plenty.

 

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Between Iron Man and me, the count was two wristwatches and three phones. If it were one of those days I fancy to strap on two watches, then it would’ve been three even.

 

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Tag Heuer and Technomarine – live together in perfect harmony… Channeling Stevie and Paulie. Hahaha!

 

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The food has landed!

 

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The same thing in the space of two days – the Prime Ribeye Extra Cut, with sides of french fries and steamed vegetables. I would’ve wanted the Macaroni & Cheese but given the lateness of the hour, they had run out.

 

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This is exactly how I want my meat – medium rare.

 

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See, nothing left. Hahaha!

 

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Dinner’s done! It’s time to head to the departure area.

 

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Iron Man was a walking advertisement for UNIQLO. And North Face.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Jo to the world

18 04 2013
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Ms. Jo and her “dearest eNTeNG,” meeting up in Singapore for the very first time ever. I love how she has always referred to me that way.

MANY PERSONALITIES make me up.  So it is always a monumental task for someone to get me “get me”.  When I find people who do, I try not to lose them.

Where I used to work, I have never been made to feel really understood or really important any better than by Ms. Jo Damian.  She used to be the Senior Executive Assistant to a number of our company’s General Managers (think, Country Managers) before taking on the role of Senior Human Resources Business Partner.  At some point, she was – for all intents and purposes – our HR Manager.  She was a major force behind getting us all here in the Lion City, although nothing was in store for her for doing so.  I guess she got something better – unspoken appreciation, lifelong gratitude, and much love.  She is guaranteed of those, at least from me.

I worked with her on the biggest and highest level programs, and together, we handled most of the Site’s communications.  Our collaborative efforts culminated with the coffee table book “Faces of Memory,” to commemorate all the men and women who were part of our former company.  Call it vain, pointless conceit but that book is on my all–time Top 10 List.  Hahaha!

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Our official photo as the Editorial Team of the coffee table book “Faces of Memory”. With Ms. Jo and me are Jack (left) and Alfie (right).

 

Coffee Table Book Core Team 01

This was actually my favorite of all the photos. Haha! I love to have been immortalized in this reclining position. Notice the two wristwatches I have on? I do love stacking them.

 

Coffee Table Book Core Team 03

I’ve always felt that Ms. Jo treats me like her own son. Although she’s more like my big sister.

 

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Ms. Jo wrote me a note on this page of my copy of “Faces of Memory”.

 

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What Filipino photo shoot is complete without the requisite wacky shot?! Hahaha!

Ms. Jo was here for a couple of days last week.  And while I missed the dinner in her honor, I was at least able to take her to the airport and see her off.  I put more weight to the latter, knowing all too well that that is one gesture I do only for the truly deserving.

Thanks, Ms. Jo.  And I shall see you again!

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We didn’t play with ramen. But we did have it for lunch. Alvin and I with Ms. Jo at Ajisen Ramen on the day of her flight back to Manila.

 

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Welcome back to Changi Airport Terminal 2!

 

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Ms. Jo took a Singapore Airlines flight back. I don’t know a better way to fly.

 

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Just two small pieces of luggage – a check-in in her favorite shade of purple and a carry-on (which is actually her laptop). The red bag contained lots of her favorite Bee Cheng Hiang beef jerky. The lambskin leather bag is actually my Longchamp Parisi, just joining in for the group shot.

 

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Ms. Jo knows me like the back of her hand. So when she had made it to the end of the line to the check-in, she knew that I would be grabbing that opportunity to snap shots away. She turned around on this one just in time to catch me striking a pose. Hahaha!

 

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This is the proper one.

 

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Alvin and Ms. Jo.

 

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Then it was my turn.

 

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Ms. Jo, in head-to-toe Marks & Spencer, against the backdrop of Changi Airport Terminal 2.

 

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Spectacles – Ray-Ban Classic Wayfarers in white. T-shirt – “Last Night The DJ Saved My Life” from Malaysia. Bottoms – Adidas running shorts. Wristwatch – Philip Stein Signature Large. Bag – Longchamp Parisi in lambskin leather trimmed with cowhide and/or goat skin. Shoes – TOMS in red corduroy.

 

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“Goodbye… it’s time for me to go…”

 

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Just one more for the road

 

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My reflection on the stainless steel frame of the departure area gate. We waited until Ms. Jo had cleared immigration.

 

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One more time for a selfie!

 

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Take away some FRESHNESS – a slice of New York Cheesecake and a venti Caramel Frappuccino.

 

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eNTeNG, Starbucks Coffee, Changi Airport Terminal 2, Singapore.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Almost home

1 04 2013
Darryl_Departure_18_Darryl_Solo

Best friend Darryl on the phone with his wife, Brenda, right after checking in all his luggage. No excess baggage!

I’M NOTHING if not fiercely loyal to my family and my friends (who are actually quite few).  I find that to be very Filipino, having grown up on Social Studies classes that always associated the words “family” and “closely knit” to no end.

A couple other things that I do find to be very Filipino are – as I have always said on this space – welcoming loved ones at the airport or sending them off.  Trust me, stop by the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) at any given time and you will find throngs gathered as if they are there to topple a dictatorship.

I use this as one of two excuses to either pick up or send off friends at the airport.  The other excuse is that Changi International Airport is just so beautiful.  I call it an urban oasis where the tummy can be filled, the senses satiated, and where serious retail therapy can be had.  And I actually only need to hop on the Purple Line and take a couple of short interchanges before I soon find myself within the halls of Terminal 3, imposing with its cavernous, cathedral ceilings that render the place nothing short of hallowed.  I emerge to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf shop to my right, ask for their Red Velvet Cake, sit back, and feel that I wouldn’t want to be someplace else.

Yesterday, I was back.  This time, to see best friend Darryl off.

Darryl_Departure_00_Control_Tower

“I see the tower! I see the tower!” “Fast approaching Changi International Airport. Darryl, a stickler for keeping schedules, told me that he had to be at the airport at exactly 4:00 AM.

 

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Darryl arrives at Changi International Airport Terminal 1.

 

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Long-standing friends eventually develop patience for me. Because as you can see, I will keep on asking them to… pose for second here, here, here. Hahaha!

 

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“It should just be here somewhere.” Darryl, though quite sure that every piece of luggage meets the airline standards, still wanted to have a final weigh-in.

 

Darryl_Departure_05_Audemars_Piguet

On the way to the industrial-grade weighing scale by Door No. 5, I saw this Audemars Piguet wall clock. See, we were able to beat our goal!

 

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Darryl soon realized that I was actually of no use. Hahaha! Yes, I accompanied him to the airport but I just let him do the heavy lifting all by himself. Haha! Sorry about that. You know me and my camera, we sometimes have a world all our own.

 

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Everything was weighing in according to Darryl’s expectations. Good job!

 

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Note to self for future reference – that’s how much a 40-inch flatscreen in its original packaging weighs. All of 20.55 kilograms!

 

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The stroller for the TV was checked in separately. It’s what airlines call as “irregularly shaped” items (for check-in).

 

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Now that the weigh-in is done, It’s time to head off to Row 07 for Darryl’s check-in.

 

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We couldn’t walk past this very “old school”-looking information counter and not take a snap. At some point I had to mention to Darryl that Singapore should seriously consider lobbying for Terminal 1 to be made into a UNESCO Heritage Site. The place just feels so historical in all its well-preserved glory. I couldn’t say the same for the NAIA, sadly.

 

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“Hold it right there! Say cheese…” (Ok, not really a very popular word right now. Hahaha!)

 

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Darryl goes through his papers while he waits for his turn at the counter.

 

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It was not a long wait. But of course I still managed to squeeze in a self-portrait session. Hahaha!

 

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Row 07 check-in counters are right beside the entrance to the departure area. Time check after clearing check-in? 4:10 AM! Everything’s going on smoothly.

 

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Time in one’s hands is a good enough excuse to… eat! Hahaha!

 

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I love it when a place speaks my language!

 

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We decided on KFC for breakfast! Very important reminder: Outside food is not allowed.

 

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My platter of a breakfast! The eggs were nice. I particularly loved the crust on the original recipe chicken (fillet). Quite peppery. Some like it hot!

 

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Darryl had Blueberry Pancakes and a side of Scrambled Eggs.

 

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Something to slather on to the pancakes

 

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Breakfast was on Darryl. Thanks a lot!!!

 

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KFC has this sweeping view of the airport check-in area. Notice how this scene is beautifully awash in blue.

 

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I really like the orange-and-white color combination on the Jetstar Boarding Pass.

 

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For some reason, I find the Jestar logo design to be quite smart, catchy, and with good recall. Speaking of recall, the logo brings to mind a skinny tie I had eons ago. It’s black silk, with – you guess it right – a star subtly embroidered on it. I would wear it to gigs to give me an instant boost of… stardom. Hahaha!

 

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At the airport, a traveler checks and checks again his stuff.

 

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On the way to the Departure Area, guess what Darryl saw? A tarp for QANTAS, the flag carrier of Australia!

 

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We just had to take one last selfie before we hit the road – I mean, before I hit the road and Darryl hit the sky at 30-plus-thousand feet up in the air.

 

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Buh-bye!

It was practically his last day in the Lion City, en route to a place where the opera house by the water is considered to be one of the first marvels of modern architecture.  The route he is taking is by way of a week-long break in the Philippines, then an hours-long layover in Singapore to pick up his remaining luggage, before it would be time to scoot to the Great Outback.

There, his wife Brenda – along with their plans for a new life – awaits.

I know it is still a matter of a few more days to the day.  But it is so close that best friend Darryl can already smell the kangaroos.

All the best, Darryl & Brenda.  You know I will miss you!

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I love looking at the Flight Information Board at airports!

 

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I would’ve wanted to wear a DLSU shirt in honor of the traveler. But I realized that I don’t have one. HAHAHA! I thought a green shirt would do. But then I saw this “UC DAVIS” shirt and just put it on.

 

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After seeing best friend Darryl off, it was time to hop on the Skytrain to Terminal 3.

 

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Inside the Skytrain, I got transfixed on to this ad. Nice visuals. Hahaha! Oh, the key message bears repeating – you get 7% savings on the GST if you shop at the Changi International Airport.

 

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Gotta have another shot of me in my “bagong gising” (just-out-of-bed) look. Conceited much??? Hahaha!

 

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I can buy my month’s worth of magazines at Times Travel in one go! I had to come back later because it was still quite early and they don’t open until 7:00 AM.

 

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Changi Airport presents “Fascinating Russia” from 16 Mar – 7 Apr 2013!

 

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Prepare to be fascinated by Russia!

 

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Welcome to Red Square!

 

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I saw this part of the “Fascinating Russia” setup framed in my Canon IXUS 860IS and I knew right there and then that I want it printed on a shirt and I’d wear it!

 

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I can’t help but feel so tiny whenever I’m inside Changi Airport Terminal 3. And I’ve always loved the ceiling treatment. I’m not sure if those panels serve a specific, important purpose. Better ask my brother!

 

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I can get stuck in Terminal 3 and never want for anything. Haha! This board has my name written all over it.

 

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I love giving feedback. So when I saw this terminal, I knew I just had to write something for all the amazing people behind Changi Airport. Besides, I had plenty of time to kill while I wait for the shops to open.

 

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The keyboard has a very Apple feel to it. Though one of the keys clearly says otherwise.

 

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Didn’t take me long to fill out the online form.

 

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Of all my TOMS, this one in red corduroy has racked up the most mileage. One of my brothers got this for me as a send-off gift on the day I left for Singapore. On the wya to the airport, we stopped by Alabang Town Center. There, he asked me to try on TOMS (he was the first one to go crazy over these shoes) ans whichever I liked, he said he would get for me. The sales people ended packing up what I had on as I decided to wear this pair on my flight.

 

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Accompanying me while I waited for the shops to fling open their doors was my Longchamp Parisi in lambskin leather. It’s not as obvious given that it is in black, but I can tell by the feel of the supple leather that this bag has been developing a lovely patina.

 

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Again, given that I had a lot of time in my hands, I decided to go to the Information desk and clarify what time the shops will open. Impatient much?!?! Hahaha!

 

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From the Skytrain/Departure Area on Level 2, the Information personnel recommended that I check out the shops on the Arrival floor.

 

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I saw this panda at a promotional booth and wanted to buy it. Hahaha! “Jia Jia” is the name.

 

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See, there’s recreation at Changi Airport. This one is called The Slide @ T3.

 

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I don’t think I’ll survive this slide. I got nauseous just staring at it.

 

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Just about anywhere there is a mirror. Hahaha!

 

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I took this photo as a shout-out to my Italian big brother Kuya Michele!

 

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I really find the elevators at Terminal 3 to be such marvels of architecure, or in a simpler term, construction. This for me is a conversation piece with my youngest brother.

 

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Yey! Times Travel had finally opened! I immediately hit the magazine racks that occupy almost two walls.

 

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I picked up all the titles you see on this photo. Obviously, I’m a believer of Style, silver linings, and Oz The Great and The Powerful!

 

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These wall clocks hang above the men’s magazine section. i looked up and saw them as if they were my shining stars. Hahaha!

 

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I saw that the Robb Report’s latest edition features wristwatches so I’ve just got to have it! It was a pleasant last-second addition to my already heavy stash.

 

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First the wall clocks. Now these editions of The Lonely Planet. Singapore and Australia side-by-side. What are these, portents of things to come?

 

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“Ring up my purchases please!” Notice that the sales associate was kind enough to double up my carrier. It was THAT heavy. It would be a considerable journey by train so I figured that all these reading materials would come in handy. It was still quite early so there should be plenty of seats on the train on the route back.

 

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Even this escalator ride to the MRT station just has an air of grandeur and elegance that speaks of a budget that didn’t allow for any corners to be cut.

 

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Changi Airport MRT Station

 

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The last text. See, only a real best friend can make a reference to a nonexistent lovelife. Hahaha! Notice that Darryl’s number is still recorded on my mobile under his wife’s name (who used to use this number). Darryl would keep on reminding me to update my records. I didn’t get around to doing it. Hahaha!

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





The universe conspires and makes dreams come true as one comes forth from two

17 03 2013
Sead_Mitzi_47_Invitation

The very classy invitation, personally delivered to Singapore by the Best Man himself. I love both the cursive and block fonts used.

MARRIAGE IS the feeling of one in the understanding of two.

After hearing that from the father of the bride, I walked away from my latest wedding reception emceeing gig with the persona of a pondering, pensive young man staring at one of life’s truths foisted on his way.

You live your life single long enough that you soon miss out on life’s little truths and – dare I say – life’s little pleasures.  It takes a wedding to bring things to light.  One could easily dismiss the speech of the father of the bride as the requisite dispensing of pieces of advice – often about how the newlyweds need to be patient with one another and, it has to be said, “work” on the marriage – but that evening, the words I heard reverberated with a deeper meaning and the thoughtfulness of someone who really meant well.

At weddings, we often hear well-wishers encourage newlyweds to nurture the best things that they like about each other, as their separate lives become one life; separate homes, one home; and, separate fortunes, one fortune.  Throw in individual backgrounds that trace their roots to two different continents, and you realize that as a well-meaning friend, you share in your friend’s joy just as much as you whisper a prayer of thanks that this really is one of those when – hold on for the cliché ahead – two become one.

I looked at my good friend of many years, the blushing bride, Mitzi, and I knew that all this time, her life has been made a bit more interesting by the possibility of having a dream come true.  She said so herself in her vows.  Her dashing groom, Sead, dapper in his coat and bowtie, fulfills her dream by coming to her life just when she was ready to receive him.  I’ve always believed that there is something so magical about weddings.  But at that very moment, I also got reminded of Paulo Coelho’s  The Alchemist because it did feel like all the universe conspired to help realize – and make successful – the Zildzic–Nuda nuptials.

The wedding march started at the exact appointed time at San Agustin Church and Convent inside the historic walled city of Intramuros in Manila.  One of the most popular venues for weddings, San Agustin Church is one of only four Baroque churches in the Philippines to be designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.  A place with such rich history and importance proved to be the only fitting place to solemnize and bless the first day of Sead and Mitzi’s lives together.

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The façade of the historic San Agustin Church and Convent, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

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The ceremonies started at the appointed time. One can’t be inside San Augstin Church and not feel being transported in time by the ornate carving, grand chandeliers, granite floors, and all the gold gilding.

 

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View from the ornately carved main door. Simply breathtaking.

Through this church’s ornately carved main door and beneath a historic  trompe-l’œil ceiling, Mitzi, radiant and doll-like in her white wedding gown with an intricately beaded bodice and a skirt that brought to mind the restless billowing sea, took her trip down the aisle to meet Sead waiting for her at the other end.  Framed by the afternoon tropical sun, Mitzi, my good friend, was a vision.

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One more look at the façade and it was time to head to the reception venue for some final pre-work.

 

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I kept time in check – running to and from home, the church and the reception venue – by wearing a Rolex to this very special event.

 

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Notice the earphones plugged into my Blackberry? It’s because I used all the time I was in the car to rehearse “in my head” the two songs I sang at the reception. One was in Filipino and the other was in English.

As both guest and emcee at the wedding reception, I knew that I had to cut short my partaking in the church ceremonies.  I took one quick glance at my Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air–King and knew that by the time the first reading (by Engr. Rez C. Punzalan) and the second reading (by Engr. Michael S. Borreo) were done, I had to rush to the reception venue to make it to the strict call time of 5:00 PM.  (Being given a “call time” made everything feel quite professional apart from the very personal aspect of being asked to emcee this event many months prior.)

This being an event wherein “all the universe” conspired to make it happen, I wasn’t surprised that at the helm of all the planning was Beautiful Weddings Bridal Consultancy and Wedding Planners, headed by the very lovely and gracious Ms. Ann Samiado.  As planning for their wedding was a huge production of international proportions – Mitzi and Sead are based in the States, their families are scattered throughout Europe, Northern America and the Philippines, and their friends and members of their bridal entourage are split between Singapore and the Philippines – the couple opted to get the services of a real pro to ensure that their exceptional day will become exactly that – exceptional.

From the church, I hopped back in the car and after a couple of turns along four blocks found myself staring at the impressive façade of La Castellana, as if caught in a space–time continuum that warped me back to Spanish Colonial Philippines.  Located at Cabildo corner Beaterio Streets, Intramuros, Manila 1002, La Castellana, which used to be an ancestral house, further underscored the sense of family and respect for time-honored traditions that Sead and Mitzi’s wedding was clearly becoming to be.

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The impressive façade of La Castellana, the wedding reception venue.

 

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The very first thing I did was meet up with Ms. Kristine, then… I just had to check my outfit on the mirror. Hahaha! I usually wear an all-black ensemble and just put a pop of color by wearing the wedding motif as the color of my necktie or bowtie. For Sead and Mitzi’s wedding, I put on a new pink dress shirt of Italian provenance and a bowtie in fuchsia pink. In my left hand is the clear folder that contains, of all things, the printout of my e-Ticket for my flight back to Singapore the next day. My very trusty travel agent of years now had provided it to me earlier in the day.

 

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The Bayleaf in Intramuros, the venue of the final rehearsal and where I first met Ms. Ann of Beautiful Weddings and her team.

 

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The marker at The Bayleaf Intramuros

I was told to look for Ms. Kristine of Beautiful Weddings who would brief me on the last-minute, final adjustments to the reception programme – just the changes from the rehearsal and “final” run-through we had a couple of nights back at the Bayleaf Hotel, also in Intramuros.  But before I could do that, I had to soak in the sights that were before me.  I walked through the three-paneled entrance and found myself admiring the grand foyer, for a split second finding my synapses struggling with which between the amber crystal chandelier and the huge flower arrangement atop the solid wooden table was the focal point.

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The Grand Foyer, La Castellana. Notice the granite floors, the solid wooden table on which rests that huge flower arrangement, and the famed amber crystal chandelier.

 

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There was a mirror at the Grand Foyer. I couldn’t help it. Hahaha! My perfume of choice for this event? The classic EGOISTé PLATINUM by CHANEL.

I admired the granite flooring, made my deep aubergine English leather shoes of Singapore provenance play against the texture, before my peripheral vision caught the striking color motif of this celebration – fuchsia pink against a backdrop of pristine white – and got reminded what I was there for.  To prepare for my emceeing job and contribute in my own way to make Sead and Mitzi’s day even more special, if that was at all possible.

I stretched my hand out in greeting, as I introduced myself to Ms. Kristine.  Like clockwork, she knew what to pull from a stack of papers, handed me a bag on to which was indicated “For eNTeNG” and quickly went over the final reminders.  As I’ve been emceeing wedding receptions for really close friends for quite a while now – this one should easily be at least my tenth time – I’ve always made it a point to prepare my own cue cards.  I was quite pleasantly surprised that Beautiful Weddings was a step ahead and had actually prepared for me a “professionally made” cue card set.  (This had happened only once before.)

Nerves had always played a part in my emceeing – and singing.  I felt that if I had lost this, together with it would go the excitement that undeniably makes me try my best to do a good job.  I often deal with this by taking a few minutes right there at the reception venue, while it would still be quiet, marvel at how beautiful and appropriate the décor is, and on a piece of paper just write away my opening spiel about what this particular wedding reception is all about.

The Salon de Joaquin Ballroom was set with linen-laid tables, perfectly balanced with the use of Tiffany chairs, very shabby chic in the gold glint of the glossy wood.  The flower arrangements in tall crystal vases, the linen, and the table settings popped as the table-and-chairs décor was not overtly done with fabric.  Everything was elegant and quite stylish.  Even the welcome hors d’oeuvre platter of a selection of crostini by Hizon’s Catering Services Inc. oozed with the discriminating taste of the refined palate.  I took my seat at Table No. 7: Shanghai and turned my attention towards the direction of El jardin de la Luz (The Courtyard).  I saw more beautiful flower centerpieces in a different dominant shade, imagined how romantic the fountain would look at dusk, illuminated by cascading crystal lights, and got reminded of the portents that led to this day.

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Ready for the celebration. A view of the Salon de Joaquin Ballroom.

 

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I like it that they opted for the more classy Tiffany chair than the usual fabric-covered chairs with huge ribbons tied around them.

 

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Table No. 11 is special to me. It’s FOLSOM! I heart FOLSOM.

 

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Table No. 2 is close to my heart as well. It is, after all, my current second home – Singapore!

 

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The welcome hors d’oeuvre platter of a selection of crostini by Hizon’s Catering Services Inc. oozed with the discriminating taste of the refined palate.

 

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Beautiful flowers at the center of each table. There are touches of lilac here. It’s the wedding’s secondary color motif.

 

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Welcome to my table, Table No. 7… SHANGHAI!

 

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I heart SHANGHAI. Once of my best friends in the whole wide world lives here.

 

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My favorite number, 5, is assigned to Sacramento. It never fails to bring to mind the line “If San Antonio sweeps Sacramento…” from the movie “My Best Friend’s Wedding”.

 

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Awash in fuchsia pink at its special corner in the Ballroom is the three-tier wedding cake. In place of the usual bride-and-groom cake topper is a bouquet of purplish pink roses rendered in fondant.

 

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The wedding cake was a study in contradiction. Outside it was pristine white, punctuated only by touches of the wedding’s fuchsia pink color motif. Inside, the fondant ensconced a sinfully rich, devilishly deep dark chocolate cake!

 

Sead_Mitzi_22_Sound

Right in front of the wedding cake table was the sound system and musicians setup. Here. one of the technicians was performing the sound check. Kudos to the sound people. For an open venue setup like Sead and Mitzi’s, I found the acoustics to be top notch, the speakers well-balanced. (But of course I will defer to the professional opinion of the DJ Raoul on this matter. Haha!)

 

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Subtle touches all around the Ballroom evoke images of the ever-present things in Sead and Mitzi’s life. Pretty ornate suitcases like these two in front of the newlyweds’s table speak of how much travel has been part of their individual lives and more so now as husband and wife.

 

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The newlyweds’s table. Notice how the Tiffany chairs are the same yet subtly different? I could tell which one’s Mitzi’s and which one’s Sead’s. Haha!

 

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Outside at the El jardin de la Luz (The Courtyard), several tables for cocktails and drinks were propped up. On top of each was this beautiful floral centerpiece. Very pronounced on the touches of lilac on these ones.

 

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Beyond these flowers you shall see the Spanish Colonial architecture of the courtyard, the cascading crystal lights and the palm trees that couldn’t help but provide a romantic backdrop to the festivities.

 

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The reception table where guests were orderly received was likewise beautifully set up.

 

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The Zildzic-Nuda nuptials was another exceptional event by Beautiful Weddings Bridal Consultancy and Wedding Planners. The firm is headed by its Principal Wedding Planner, Ms. Ann Samiado.

I tapped my fingers on the linen and found myself overwhelmed with happiness for the beautiful couple.  Before I knew it, the words were escaping from inside me, leaping off of my consciousness as pen hit the surface of paper.

TONIGHT IS a very special night.  I can’t think of a better place to be in to be part of the ultimate celebration of love – than in a wedding.

Tonight, Sead and Mitzi requested the honor of your presence as they give their love its fullest expression.  Fullest expression – don’t you just love those words?

We are all here because there’s always something so magical about weddings.  Look around and you will see that it brings family and friends together – some of you traveled miles, even halfway around the world to celebrate our couple tonight.

The table names echo just how much our couple’s love for each other defied distance and made “home” not just a place you can point to on a map or associate with a country code, but a reflection of them, their love for each other, and beginning tonight, right here, “home” is the reflection of their shared life.

Tonight, it’s about these two people who are willing – you can even say, brave enough – to take a chance in front of all the people they care about.  It’s incredibly inspiring.  It’s incredibly hopeful.

It just feels great to be a witness to that.

What I found to be most touching about this wedding was the presence of people from practically all over the world, a clear testament to just how much Sead and Mitzi are well-loved.  Families and loved ones came from different regions in the Philippines, Europe (Norway), and the United States.  Colleagues from Folsom in California, Singapore and from the Mitzi’s university and previous companies in the Philippines were well represented too.

It was noticeable that the couple assembled the people closest to their hearts to stand as their Principal Sponsors, Secondary Sponsors and members of the Entourage.  Clearly, people who hold the most influence to them from among family and the various stages of their lives – from student to accomplished professionals – were all accounted for and given the unique opportunity to help shape their young married life.

Among all these well-wishers, I waited in particular for the speeches from the Maid of Honor and the Best Man.  On a personal note, having known the Best Man Engr. Raoul M. Masangcay for years now, I marveled at hearing him speak in length and with such thoughtfulness for the first time.  He took a trip down memory lane, complimented the couple, and led everybody else in wishing the best of health and wealth for the newlyweds.  It was music to the ears.

And from the opening strains of “Seasons of Love (Theme from the Broadway musical RENT)”, lovingly interpreted by ANIMA Choir and Strings, it was clear that Sead and Mitzi’s union is a celebration of love, and that they will only allow it to be measured in terms of seasons of the same.

Congratulations and Best Wishes, Sead and Mitzi!

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Honor Guards lined the red carpet for Sead and Mitzi’s grand entrance, both at San Agustin and at La Castellana.

 

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I took this shot against the backdrop of the dinner buffet queue during the first break in the reception program. I later realized that I failed to take photos of the couple and the many guests on my own camera. Though we did manage to snap lots of shots with many other people’s DSLRs and iPhones.

 

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The very colorful and pretty dessert table. Beside it was a very retro touch – a chocolate fondue station!

 

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The guests were serenaded by the vocal stylings and top musicianship of the ANIMA Choir and Strings. That’s their manager Roger on his solo.

 

 

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The “strings” section of ANIMA Choir and Strings is composed of a percussionist, a flutist, a keyboardist and a violinist. The guys are awesome. They were only informed by Ann of my two songs a couple of days ahead, and we only had exactly one dry run less than an hour before the reception started. But I felt like they were able to take my voice where I wanted to while at the same time downplaying my vocal flaws. A–W–E–S–O–M–E. No wonder they’ve been a byword in the wedding industry.

 

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Doesn’t The Courtyard El jardin de la Luz transform into a place perfect for a romantic rendezvous at night time?

 

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i realize that I only managed to snap a shot of the couple during the bouquet and garter toss. Bummer! (I’m waiting to copy photos from my friend and colleague Engr. Aris’s DSLR.)

 

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This elicited a lot of cheers from the guests as they prodded Sead to go L–O–W–E–R! I couldn’t agree more with the Best Man in saying that our friend Mitzi was at her most radiant, most beautiful that evening.

 

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I don’t have all the photos to show for it, but I have to say that one thing that Sead and Mitzi’s wedding allowed was a veritable “reunion” of sorts among colleagues and friends from across the miles and seas. This one photo that survived the editing is of me and my good good G–O–O–D friend Adam from our company’s offices in Folsom, California. The last time that we bumped into each other was during business meetings in China. I was just so glad to see him at Sead and Mitzi’s wedding (Mitzi did tell me Adam was coming over). It was also nice to meet his girlfriend who he brought along.

 

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When it was already party time –WITH THE BAR OPENED WITH FREE-FLOWING WINE AND BEER!!! – another set of musicians took care of the sounds. This group is called, quite aptly, “Totally Mesmerized”. I loved their version of Gangnam Style that I found myself totally wanting to break into dance!

 

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That’s my cue card set which I made especially for Sead and Mitzi’s wedding. Notice that the first card is handwritten, as has always been my own “tradition”. I write my opening spiel only when I’m already at the venue of the reception. Some sort of belief that … “It will come to me!” Hahaha! Though I have to say that this time, I did end up using for the most part the cue card set provided by Beautiful Weddings. They have quite an amazing team – Ms. Ann, Mr, Jason, Ms, Kristine, Ms, Aya, and many others.

 

Sead_Mitzi_42_Table_Shanghai

I hope that Sead and Mitzi will forgive me for running away with my table’s name card – “Table no. 7: Shanghai”. I just simply loved it and thought it is the perfect souvenir. As you can see from the list, I shared the table with some of the most beautiful people.

 

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Cue cards and lyric sheets! As you can see, I prepared three songs (Hahaha!). I sang Filipino 70s band Hotdog’s “Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko” (Sead took a liking to this song, among many Filipino hits)… and Lionel Richie’s “Truly”. As backup, I have Baron Barbers’ “I Will Always Stay In Love This Way”. This song was the first ever that a couple asked me to sing for them. So I always have it in my backpocket so to speak.

 

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The beautiful wedding invitation! This is a nice addition to my growing collection.

 

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The Principal Sponsors, Best Man, Maid of Honor, Groomsman, and Bridesmaid.

 

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Esteemed collegues, family, really close friends and their little kids played the other important roles.

 

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Before long, it was time to bid La Castellana – and the party – adieu!

 

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One last look at La Castellana before my family and I headed off to another historic part of town – ONGPIN (a.k.a. Chinatown)!

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





At the Fort

14 03 2013
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AVANT AT THE FORT. I’m really lovin’ this Lacoste Flag Shirt, Korea edition. Of course I also have it in Italia.

I KNEW I was really sick when I couldn’t care less about the inflight cuisine.  I couldn’t be bothered by the flight attendant to respond with my choice of meal.  Instead, I ended up snacking on antipyretics while ensconced beneath a blanket.  The very first time I have ever done so on a flight.

I spent the first three days of my most recent vacation just trying to convalesce.  By the time I was up and about, I knew no better way to spend my time than tag along with my brother when he went inspecting his latest projects.  He’s currently working on a couple of units at some of the more covetable addresses in the metro.

When he was done talking to his teams – the foreman, contractors, laborers, electricians – we went to lunch at UCC, with the rest of the family.  But not before first making a walking tour of Burgos Circle at Forbes Town Center, with the requisite stop at the MINI COOPER dealership on Fifth Avenue.  At UCC, he introduced me to his favorite coffee concoction – the Kori Kohi Coffee – as he lunched on Seafood Risotto.

Kori Kohi Coffee is simply coffee “ice cubes” in a tall glass, on which you pour warm milk until the cubes melt.  A little stir turns this confection into a freezing frenzy that could make you ditch your usual latte at the more popular coffee chains.

I did.

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Our first stop was AVANT at the Fort. Upon entering the lobby, my sight got transfixed on to this “ceiling treatment” of a chandelier. I was told that it was inspired by actual Swarovski crystal-studded dangling earrings.

 

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Another view of the chandelier over the lobby.

 

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I was told that the lobby was designed by the country’s top interior design firm. I actually liked the cathedral ceiling and the furnishings. Spare and minimalist.

 

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Then it was time to hit the elevator. Of course, when surrounded by mirrored walls, I couldn’t help cam-whoring.

 

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A parting shot at the elevator landing.

 

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I lug along a number of my wristwatches when I travel. For this day out, I decided to strap on a Philip Stein Signature Large and a Tissot Heritage Prince I.

 

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The view from one of the windows of the “huge” unit – the first of a couple of my brother’s projects in this high rise.

 

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I love this other view for how the golden arches stand out!

 

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Then it was time to hit the elevators again to go to the other unit several floors down.

 

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Cam-whoring!

 

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This unit has floor-to-ceiling glass windows on one side.

 

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I just had to snap this photo of this window because of the number “4”. It happends to be an important number to me.

 

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See, I snap anything that says number “4”!

 

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I saw my reflection on the elevator panel and I felt like a Fernando Botero.

 

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I had to wait in the lobby as my brother went on with his official business. I like waiting in lobbies.

 

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See, I had time to admire the appointments. I particularly liked this glass table top supported by this “wavy” or “wrought” metal.

 

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Of course, I had to pose by that Swarovski crystal chandelier.

 

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ONE McKINLEY Place is nearby.

 

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At ONE McKINLEY Place

 

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I love the look of this building. It’s like one big gift with silver ribbons swirled all around it.

 

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Yehey! It’s the MINI Store!

 

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By the MINI COOPER in silver.

 

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Red is always auspicious!

 

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Tickled pink. Mama loves this one.

 

 

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At MINI GLOBAL CITY on Fifth Avenue

 

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I heart Taguig!

 

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“WRONG RAMEN”. This restaurant was still on soft opening. The name caught my attention. The personnel at the door was kind enough to engage me into a discussion about the place’s name. It is ramen so good that it is “wrong” for you.

 

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“The last guy who ate here left screaming in pure ecstasy.”

 

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Whoever did the branding for WRONG RAMEN got it all right! The “X” could mean “wrong” or the chopsticks that you eat ramen with!

 

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I already have a favorite from this list!

 

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I find that the soft opening menu was quite pretty in its stark simplicity.

 

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My heart skips a beat over anything gelato.

 

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Here’s looking at you, Kuya Michele. Hahaha!

 

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This sculpture at the “park” piqued my interest.

 

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Gotta have a photo!

 

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Pasta! Pizza! Steaks! Count me in!

 

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It’s all about living the good life!

 

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…Which to me means lots of sleep! Hahaha!

 

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After all the walking, it was time for lunch! Mama and I on our way to UCC at Burgos Circle.

 

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Mama brought along one of her Cath Kidstons, among her many bags.

 

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The Kori Kohi Coffee is served! We went over my blog on my brother’s Google Nexus 7.

 

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The Italians are quite the consummate coffee connoisseurs. So my photo with Kuya Michele and the “third” Michele by good Kori Kohi Cofee is quite fitting.

 

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Kori Kohi Coffee is simply coffee “ice cubes” in a tall glass, on which you pour warm milk until the cubes melt. A little stir turns this confection into a freezing frenzy that could make you ditch your usual latte at the more popular coffee chains.

 

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UCC’s Seafood Risotto hits the table! It’s my brother’s favorite.

 

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This is a winner!

 

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The afternoon sun and the clear blue sky made the day perfect. On a clear day, you can see forever!

 

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