Thursday, January 27, 2011

Diving Off the Deep End

I saw Elga's post and I got inggit. :(  So I decided to repost my own Bohol travelogue published in Expat Travel and Lifestyle Magazine. I stayed in Amorita Resort and it was gorgeous! I had a villa all to myself and it came with its own (teeny) infinity pool overlooking the sea. Good times. le sigh. Great times.

Diving Off the Deep End

A plunge into Bohol's pristine waters brings a reluctant, first-time diver face-to-face with the surly creatures of the deep, in a mesmerizing landscape unrivaled by anything that can be seen on land.

From a certain altitude, Bohol's famed Chocolate Hills, once a contender for a spot in The New Seven Wonders of the World, look like little green swells bespeckled with several shades of brown. They are exactly what their name implies – hills that take on a chocolate hue during the dry months. All 1,268 mounds of limestone are perfectly shaped and clustered together, a natural geological formation that occurs nowhere else on God's green earth.

I had to content myself with an aerial view of this Western Visayan province's most recognizable landmark because the focal point of the trip is not any land-based terrain.

Fish Out of Water

Oval-shaped Bohol and its 72 smaller islands are surrounded by beautiful coral reefs abundant with marine life,making it a popular choice for professional and neophyte divers – of which I was neither, nor did I ever desire to be. Regarding the beauty of the world beneath the sea, Jacques Yves-Cousteau, the father of scuba diving, uttered the famous line il faut aller voir or “we must go see for ourselves.” Msr. Cousteau, I really would have rather not.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The week I was born people were reading...

According to the New York Times:

1. The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum
2. Lake Wobegon Days, Garrison Keilor
3. The Mammoth Hunters, Jean M. Auel
4. Lie Down with Lions, Ken Follett
5. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

Get yours at

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sputnik Sweetheart, Haruki Murakami

“Ice is cold; roses are red. I’m in love. And this love is about to carry me off somewhere. The current’s too overpowering; I don’t have any choice. It may very well be a special place, some place I’ve never seen before. Danger may be lurking there, something that may end up wounding me deeply, fatally. I might end up losing everything. But there’s no turning back. I can only go with the flow. Even if it means I’ll be burned up, gone for ever.”

"So that's how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that's stolen from us - that's snatched right out of our hands - even if we are left completely changed people with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to our allotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness."

---   Sputnik Sweetheart, Haruki Murakami

Sputnik Sweetheart is narrated by a 24-year-old school teacher who is secretly in love with his friend Sumire, an aspiring writer who reveres Jack Kerouac and chain-smokes. At the beginning of the novel, she is plagued with doubts on her capacity to love and bothered by her utter lack of sexual desire, which she, at times, blames for her lack of writing inspiration.  She discusses this openly with the narrator.

Sumire soon falls in love with Miu, a sophisticated older woman with a secret that turned her hair snow-white.

I promise it is not as ridiculous as I’m (unintentionally) making it seem.

It’s a love story of sorts, but to call this a love-triangle doesn’t quite capture its central theme. Like in all Murakami novels, the characters are all lost, lonely souls looking to be loved by someone too damaged or too selfish to reciprocate.  

It was an interesting read. Though I admit, I’m not too fond of the ending. I feel like it was missing several chapters in the middle and I just don’t get how it got from point A to point B. It’s not my favourite Murakami but it’s still pretty good, if you could call feeling very, very depressed after reading “good.”.  

Here’s another Murakami that is not my favourite.

In my very humble opinion, Norwegian Wood devoted too many pages on the emo, suicidal (and completely unlovable!) Naoko and not enough on Midori, the coolest girl to ever come out of Murakami’s wonderful imagination.

To this day, one of the best compliments I’ve ever received – and this happened several years ago – was “you’re my Midori.”

I haven't seen the movie. I'll tell you all about it when I do.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert

If there is one indignity I shall never endure gracefully, it is watching people mess around with my most cherished personal narratives about them.
-- Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert – of the Eat, Pray, Love fame – and I are kindred spirits. Reading Committed, the book that came after Eat, convinced me of it.

We’re both writers. She’s had immense success in her career, while I…am not quite there yet. We’re both blondes. She has her head-full of gold-spun hair, while I –even with my head-full of black hair— get  teased a lot for being blonde.

In Committed, to prepare her fiance (now husband) on what he was getting and getting into by marrying her, she made a list of her worst character flaws, the ugliest, most unlovable things about her person. She could very well have been decribing me! It goes:

1. I think very highly of my own opinion. I generally believe that I know best how everyone in the world should be living their lives—and you, most of all, will be the victim of this.

2. I require an amount of devotional attention that would have made Marie Antoinette blush.

3. I have far more enthusiasm in life than I have actual energy. In my excitement, I routinely take on more than I can physically or emotionally handle, which causes me to break down in quite predictable displays of dramatic exhaustion. You will be the one burdened with the job of mopping me up every time I've overextended myself and then fallen apart. This will be unbelievably tedious. I apologize in advance.

4. I am openly prideful, secretly judgmental, and cowardly in conflict. All these things collude at times and turn me into a big fat liar.

5. And my most dishonorable fault of all: Though it takes me a long while to get to this point, the moment I have decided that somebody is unforgivable, that person will very likely remain unforgiven for life--all too often cut off forever, without fair warning, explanation, or another chance.

None of us is ever too unique or too special, are we? I find it very comforting; our darkest thoughts and in our worst, we are not alone.  

I say this to everyone who’d listen and I’ll say it again here: skip Eat, Pray, Love and go straight to Committed


Food obsessions change over time. Mine tend to veer on the intense side: I indulge on whatever food obsession I happen to have as much as I can, as often as I can – until I get too sick of it, I don’t crave it for another year or so.

This time last year I was eating dulong with everything, in every meal, everyday. Melba toast, rice, bread, crackers, on its own… My supply ran out and I haven’t had, or craved for it since. It’s due for a comeback pretty soon.

Food obsession du jour: hakao and taro puffs. Now I‘ve always loved hakao and taro puffs but lately I’ve been going to chinese restaurants way more usual.

During one such visit I was told they’ve ran out of taro puffs. I was devastated. Nothing upsets me more than food deprivation, especially when I set my heart on something I’m suddenly told I can’t have. Toni, God bless him, sensing my distress, offered to go to the restaurant next door to order taro puffs. I told him it was unnecessary, if only because the restaurant next door was not Chinese, but Japanese! Close enough, he said and tried anyway. I didn’t get my taro puffs that night,  but he’s sweet, isn’t he?

The photos are NOT from the aforementioned Chinese restaurant, but from Tin Hau (Mandarin Oriental). Do check out their weekend Yum Cha Menu, it’s to die for. Yum, yum, yum. Toni and I had our third date (Chinese New Year three years ago!) in Mandarin, so it’s really a special place for us. <3

Saturday, January 1, 2011

One-Woman Book Club 2010

No need to state the obvious, but I will: I LOVE BOOKS. Last year I promised to really, really make time for reading and to finish at least 4 books a month. Obviously, I didn't quite make it to my goal. Here's to hoping I'll do better next year.

Below are the books I did get to read. Some I'm proud of and I'd recommend to my friends. Others -- just one, actually -- I am NOT proud of, but I'd recommend to my friends anyway. :D If anyone can appreciate smut, they can! 

So, in no particular order:    










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