Too Good Too Be True

David Cook January concert in RP

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:48:00 07/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines—A surprise announcement from David Cook himself had his web fan site buzzing with excitement, especially from its Filipino subscribers: “American Idol”’s Season 7 champ is coming to Manila for a concert.

Comments from the website ranged from incredulity to amazement to simple joy, in a thread whose common question was the need to present proof.

Inquirer pursued a tip that the evidence was earlier posted on YouTube, and indeed, there it was (type in: CHUMFM interview with David Cook). The audio clip, 4 minutes and 15 seconds long, has Cook being interviewed by DJ Richie on a Canadian radio station. The conversation starts with Cook’s scheduled visit to Toronto as part of the “Idol” tour.

Cook proceeded to discuss his coming major-label debut CD, set for a November release and with Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) as producer.

And then the announcement: “We just booked my first show, post-‘Idol,’ Jan. 27 in the Philippines … a one-off show and then we start the tour in the States …” Pocholo Concepcion

Scribble Away

I own too many notebooks. I like writing down my thoughts, making lists, documenting my day keeping track of my to-do's, calendar & appointments, and being reminded of special ocassions.

The yearly Starbucks planner had been my daily diary since Starbucks introduced it here in the Philippines. I must've drank liters and liters of my favorite toffee nut latte for me to own its journal. And I write in it religiously. Jed's been itching to read my current and past journals. How come I have a feeling he already had.

Aside from the Starbucks planner, I have a Sunlife Executive Agenda which I use as an organizer. PDAs do not work for me, as my organizer is also a scrapbook. I keep important documents, recipes, greeting cards, articles, lyrics of songs... or whatever I feel is important at that time.

Lastly, I carry a small Rina Albert notebook which I carry with me everywhere so I have something to write on when the need arises, like grocery lists, etc.

Well, three notebooks are bulky. Although I leave my journal at home, I bring my organizer and mini-notebook everywhere I go. I need alternatives.

And then I discovered Moleskine's notebooks. Well, I have yet to own one.

I am a fan of Daphne Oseña's LJ site, and she's been talking about the Lagalag diaries. I was instantly inspired. And it led me to research about Moleskine notebooks. While I have seen these notebooks in local bookstores, I never even took a look at them until I read about Daphne's entry, and saw photos of the notebook. The Lagalag diaries were passed on to 40 people, and from Daphne's photos, it looked very sturdy unlike my Sunlife organizer's loose pages. :-(

So on with my reasearch, I discovered Moleskine is not just about blank notebooks, there are other varieties such as -- diaries!! Moleskine's got them all: monthly, weekly, and daily diaries. Here are photos of diaries that caught my eyes and two ones I intend to buy for next year, even if Moleskine came out with an 18 month calendar beginning with July 2008.

Different diaries

Monthly diary + notebook

Weekly diary

Horizontal Weekly Diary

These notebooks are now available locally. I checked out a couple of bookstores yesterday and saw these diaries. Their prices were reasonable. It's cheaper than the Starbucks planner, and without the calories from those irresistable Starbucks drink/s one need to buy to own a planner.

I can almost see that next year, I will be keeping a Starbucks planner AND a Moleskine diary.

Finally... A Trip to Bacolod

The City of Bacolod is not new to me. In college, I stayed in a dorm owned a family from Bacolod. And of course, most occupants came from the City of Smiles. My very good friend - dorm mate and blockmate - Melai introduced me to a world only known to Ilonggos. She gave me my very first pack of butterscotch. And that had been her pasalubong to me for years. When I was not concerned with my sugar intake, I could eat an entire pack. I would make it my main meal.

For more than three years, I lived with Ilonggas, and I made a number of good friends with some of them. And I promised myself, I'd be visiting the place in the future.

The future is now. I ended up marrying an Ilonggo. Jed was born in Binabalgan in Negros Occidental, and his parents now live in Bacolod. He had been meaning to bring me to his hometown since we started dating. Five years later, and I made it to his hometown. It's the perfect opportunity for me to visit his parents and meet his relatives from both paternal and maternal sides.

Jed's dad got into an accident last February, and he had been in a vegetative state since. That was the last time Jed saw his dad. We needed to make the trip.

Dinner on our first night was with Dad's family and his neurosurgeon. His grandparents were too happy to see us. I told him he's lucky he had this time to spend with his grandparents. My grandparents died before I was born or when still a kid, and I was too young to remember how they were.

I had the best chicken inasal that evening. It was at Chicken House North.

The next day, we made a trip to where Jed was born, in Binalbagan. It was several towns away from Bacolod. I met my mother-in-law's relatives, and her father, Lolo Bading. They were so kind to prepare a feast for us and waited for us as we reached their place a couple of hours after lunch. Lolo Bading is still so in love with his deceased wife. He carries her picture with him, and wouldn't stop sharing stories about her.

Thursday was when we made time to check out the old houses in Silay City. Jed's wonderful aunts took the time to go see the houses with us.

First stop was the Gaston Ancestral House.

I kept taking photos of the second floor of the house until I was informed that it is not allowed. See how beautiful the house is.

This is our legal photo taken on the first floor, living area. We sort of blended in except for the clothes.

Some more poses.. this time with Tita Gamay and Tita Zen.

Our next stop was the Hofilena Ancestal Home. The owner of the house, Ramon Hofilena, showed us around. I marveled at his extensive collection of art pieces.

And Jed & I ate in Bacolod. I admit I gained weight. How could I resist the chicken inasal, batchoy, butterscotch, chorizo, and the best crema de fruta I've ever tasted from Calea. Aside from the Chicken House North, we also ate at Bob's (upon the recommendation of my brother), Ted's, the batchoy place and 21 Restaurant. Food prices in Bacolod are very reasonable. It's money well spent.

Dad's sister Tita Zen, who happens to be our ninang at our wedding, offered her beautiful house for us to stay. She even lent her vehicle so we could easily go around to wherever we wanted to go. She was the most gracious hostess, and I am very grateful. Her househelp Manang Neneng made our visit unforgettable. I was pleased to meet her as I learned Jed grew up taken care by her. She shared with me how Jed was when he was younger. Manang Neneng took this next photo in Tita Zen's living room.

And the reason why we flew to Bacolod. Here is Dad, five months after his accident. My mother-in-law has done a great job taking care of her husband. We all know it's not an easy job. I pray for her more.

Lastly, the photo was taken outside the new Bacolod-Silay International Airport. I was touched that five of his relatives brought us to the airport, including his grandparents.

Four days were very short. And that's why there will be a next trip, and more to follow.

Gossip Girl Addict

I am Irma and I am a certified Gossip Girl addict. Again, I am late. The first season's been long over and that's when I found the time to download the entire season and watch the show.

As expected, I was hooked.

Which surprised me as I couldn't see myself following a show about the lives of elite high school students in NYC. It's disgustingly lavish. It's a life I will never live. And that makes the show very interesting to watch.

Gotta go. I'm in Episode 12. Six more episodes until the season ender.


Light at the End of the Tunnel

I actually survived. Borrowing the tag line of the reality show Survivor, I was outlasted, outwitted, and outplayed by the boss.

But the team made it 'til the end -- after enduring four long years.

For me, she was a Miranda Priestley wanna-be. The character in Lauren Weisberger's book reminded me so much of the boss. Why a wanna-be? Well, the boss was not as fabulous as Meryll Streep or the Miranda character. And for me, the boss did not redeem herself in the end.

In the four years of having her as the boss --
  • I lost my bestfriend at work to a fantastic job at the ADB.
  • A good friend was just too happy to have finished his posting in Manila. We actually became very close because of the boss.
  • There were four pregnancies.
  • Sick leaves were used (and abused). We're talking about months here, and not mere days or weeks.
  • I dreaded traveling -- with her! We had two international and several domestic trips together. I was the luckiest (NOT!) of them all to have traveled ALONE with her on a number of occasions.
  • My supervisor almost resigned at the last minute. I would've done the same thing, if he had resigned.
  • I had nightmares about her. I just had one last night.
  • While organizing the Cook-Off and Charity Dinner, my supervisor and I experienced sleepless nights. After the event, I slept for three days, and that was not enough.
  • I compromised my principles into doing tasks the way the boss wanted it done. And that's why she never gained my trust.
Her marvelous team at the office pulled off impossible projects after another. It's a realization for me at how good we are.

When she left, I felt relieved and liberated. I do not need to prove myself to anyone anymore. I feel like I've reached the peak, now I'm ready to descend.

The trauma of the four years will last longer than I'd like to. How can one explain the dream I had last night? Why is it still haunting me?

One day, I will forgive her. I should not have this much hatred and bitterness in my life.

It will come.. I just don't know when.

But for now, I am standing at the end of the tunnel -- smiling!

Friday Night Treat

I am counting the hours until I get to watch, what I think is, the most anticipated movie of the year, The Dark Knight.

I had been a huge fan of Heath Ledger, since the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. There is something manly and mysterious about him... He had turned into one remarkable actor through the years. His greatest performance, so far, was Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain. Unfortunately, Heath lived a very short life.

Here is the PEOPLE Review:

No Joke – Heath Ledger Makes The Dark Knight Unforgettable
By Jason Lynch

Step aside, Spider-Man 2 and Superman II: The phenomenal The Dark Knight now reigns as the greatest superhero film of all time. From its exhilarating first frame to its bittersweet last, it sets a new standard for the genre – and redefines what a summer popcorn movie can be.

After starting to clean up corrupt Gotham City by becoming the caped crusader in 2005's Batman Begins, billionaire Bruce Wayne (a superb Christian Bale) has the city's bad guys on their heels. He's joined in the fight against crime by the equally committed district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) – fated to fall from grace and become the ghastly Two-Face – who is romancing Wayne's old flame Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal, a spry upgrade over Batman Begins' Katie Holmes).

Enter the Joker (a fearless Heath Ledger), a jittery, terrifying fly in the ointment who goads Batman into a battle for no less than the soul of Gotham – and its residents. Fulfilling Begins' promise, director and cowriter Christopher Nolan skillfully weaves first-rate action and suspense with a stirring, startling emotional undercurrent.

While Bale again astounds, The Dark Knight's real star is the late Ledger. Many thought that Jack Nicholson's turn as the Joker in 1989's Batman would never be topped, but Ledger manages to do just that.

His angrily applied white makeup accentuates the hideously creepy scars carved into his cheeks. And while Nicholson was a merry, scary jokester, frying a foe with an electrified joy buzzer, Ledger's gags, like making a pencil "disappear" into a victim's skull, are even darker. His haunting Joker helps make The Dark Knight unforgettable.

The Dark Knight (PG-13) opens Friday.

Embracing Change

Let me borrow Joel Osteen's podcast title for this entry. And I will quote his Today's Word about this very strong word, CHANGE.

Embrace Change

Today's Scripture

He changes times and seasons.” (Daniel 2:21)

Today's Word from Joel and Victoria

God is always looking to take us to higher levels. He wants us to grow and increase in every area of life. Change is often a catalyst for growth in our lives. It keeps us from getting stuck in a rut. God will supernaturally open and close doors to keep us on the path toward our destiny. He will “stir us” out of comfortable situations and stretch us because He loves us too much to allow us to live in mediocrity. Just like a mother eagle will stir her young, God will stir His children. Do you know how an eaglet learns to fly? That eagle will take her eaglet to the very highest point—way out of its comfort zone—and then she releases it. As the eaglet falls, the mother swoops down and picks it back up again. She does this over and over until the eaglet spreads its wings and soars through the air. That’s what God wants for you today. He wants you to soar in life! You might feel like that eaglet learning to fly, but know that God is right there with you! He’ll never leave you. Embrace God’s change today, knowing that He is using it to take you up higher so that you can live in victory all the days of your life!
I had to look for this particular topic, as suggested by my dearest Cheryl, as I am a person who struggle with change. Rather than embracing it, my natural reaction is to push it away. Ooh.. I could be too stubborn about it. But with God's grace, most of the changes in my life happened for the better.

The Lord is rocking my comfort zone right now. And I know I should stay close to Him more now and He will lead me to the right path. I'm not going to deny that I am scared. Well, it's a life changing decision for Jed & me. Right now, I cannot disclose what that predicament is as I need to inform and ask for the blessing of the most important woman in my life -- my mother.

But this change will be good.

It's what I call a leap of faith.

Why would I be scared when I know God and my husband will be with me?

Class Picture

Our team embarrassed ourselves by posing for a picture in broad daylight at the middle of Serendra.

Taken after the despedida lunch the boss threw for us at Chelsea's.

We all looked happy in the photo.

An Impulsive Weekend Purchase

I passed by the bookstore to buy batteries for our alarm clock. While I was depositing my gym bag to the baggage counter person, a certain book cover caught my eye. I honestly thought it was a new version of the Devil Wears Prada. But as I got near the book, I was surprised to see a new book by one of my favorite chick lit author, Lauren Weisberger. It's her new book, Chasing Harry Winston.

From the title alone, I knew what this book is about. I immediately could picture my weekend reading this new book. I need a book that's easy to read as the ones I'm currently reading - Brida, Chronicles of Narnia - are way too serious.

Publishers Weekly says this about the book:

The Devil Wears Prada author Weisberger delivers a hilarious, silly and entirely predictable chick lit romp. Book editor Leigh, chef Emmy and wealthy Adriana make a pact to change their disappointing lives within a year. Emmy vows to find the father of her future babies, and Latin temptress Adriana decides to settle on just one of her rich suitors. But Leigh is uncertain about what changes to make; she's lived in the shadow of her legendary literary father and accomplished boyfriend so long, Leigh barely recognizes what makes her happy. The protective wrapping dissolves when she gets the nod to edit bestselling, married author Jesse Chapman-and ends up polishing more than his prose. Emmy-after a year of trying to bed a man from every continent-might discover Mr. Right when he's least expected. As for the relentlessly slothful Adriana, she deflects engagement, but manages to snag something more important. Bookish Leigh defends chick lit as having "sensible structure and coherent language" in a package that's "witty, clever and fun to read." Weisberger is, of course, also talking about this book, and her assessment is right-on. (June)

I'm hoping to finish the book this weekend, so ta-ta!

Chronicling My Two-Week Absence

I missed blogging.. I really do...

It's unbelievable how I couldn't find the time to write what's been happening to me. That's how busy it was for both my personal and work lives. I admire those who have been effectively managing their time well and finding time to do as much as they could.

To make it easier for me to recall what had preoccupied my time, I thought about writing a sort-of-timeline --

June 23

Jed & I had dinner with my grade school friends at Mamou in Serendra, composed of three newlywed couples (Tammy & Mon, Joy & Joel, and Jed & I) and one feisty lady lawyer (Rita). It was an evening of sensible & witty conversations and reminisce of our embarrassing years in St. Paul. I cannot believe I had known these people since first grade and I am very happy that our friendship is closer than before. The new milestones in our lives made it possible to see more of each other. And I'm thankful Jed also enjoyed their company. Dinner time was not enough for us non-stop talkers; we moved to Miss Desserts for, of course, desserts and some light conversations. We did miss having Sam & Rob with us.

June 28

I promised Jed that I'll treat him to lunch buffet at Spiral of Sofitel Philippine Plaza when I receive my overtime pay. The buffet price was pretty steep (more expensive than Circles) but it was worth it. I implemented this systematic way of eating so I could try a couple of dishes from each of their themed stations. After lunch, we met with Jed's former colleagues who jumped over to the Sofitel fence. We had the opportunity to see the newly renovated suite, and we were both in awe checking out the state-of-the-art room.

Late afternoon and evening were spent shopping! It was our first to have shopped that way. We both blame it on the Zara sale. We capped the day catching the last full screening of Wanted.

June 29

The day of the Pacquiao vs. Diaz match. Got a text message from my brother that Pacquiao won. Filipinos are happy.

June 30

My best friend Mia's birthday!

I finally attended a Body Combat class at the gym, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I've never been in a class with that many attendees. I guess people were inspired by the Pacquiao win. Body Combat is the 4th class I've been going to at the gym. The other three are: Final Cuts, Body Attack and Body Balance. I've reached this point that working out alone is boring me. With group classes, I only need to show up and follow the steps of Fitness First's very able instructors.

July 1

It's Canada Day so I have a day off from work. I had too many errands to do. And I finished them all. My siblings invited themselves over for dinner. I prepared a lasagna for them from Edna's recipe book.

July 2 to 3

I had to travel to Cebu for the launch of the Canadian Food Festival at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. As the event is held in Marco Polo, I did not have the time to leave the hotel. So I dined in the their restaurants Café Marco and their newest baby, Blu.
On my last day, I surprisingly found the time to work out, enjoy a breakfast meeting, check my e-mails and go for a foot spa. I've never had this much time to use the hotel's facilities.

July 4

I am back in Manila! It was a short time at the office as the team headed out to Chelsea in Serendra for the boss' despedida treat. We enjoyed our sumptuous meal of cheese fondue, three kinds of salad, two kinds of pizza and pasta. For dessert, the table was overflowing with slices of cakes. I had been wanting to try the Nutella Dome Cake so I had that and shared with the rest of the team.

My small group was resurrected. The last one was with Sam back in May. Malou led our very small group with only her, myself and Lynn. I missed these girls. I'm very proud of Malou for leading last Friday's meeting. Our topic was praying for our husbands. It actually is very timely for me.

week of July 7th

Jed is in Hong Kong attending a workshop. He left last Monday, and would return tomorrow.

So what do I do keep myself busy and not miss my husband?

A lot, actually.

I met with Cheryl for early dinner at Café Via Mare last Monday. Then my evenings are spent cleaning the house and keeping it in order. Household chores are an effective way to eat up time.

I don't have Jed to drive me to work so I have to wake up extra early to avoid the morning rush, and get a cab stress-free. I don't mind getting to RCBC an hour early as it gives me time to hang out in Starbucks for a cup of coffee and pastry and catch up on my reading. I've just started on Paolo Coelho's Brida.

Thanks to PLDT Budget Card, I get to talk to Jed every night and it costs us so little. Roaming charges are insanely expensive and too much on the budget.

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