Monday, April 29, 2013

Movie Monday - Ironman 3

Of all the Marvel superheroes, the least I expected to love was Ironman. I was more of a Hulk kinda gal, until the Edward Norton movies ruined it for me. He was just too... wishy-washy, too emotive. A lot of people disagree with me, and at this particular point, I am not trying to dissuade them. But something was off and I couldn't put a finger on it. That is, until they got Mark Ruffalo, of course. Now I could just say, Hulk is more Mark Ruffalo than Edward Norton and let's leave it at that.

But Ironman? Whoever was the casting director is a visionary because Robert Downey, Jr. IS Ironman. He has the grits, the slick, the brass and the vulnerability down to a pat. Downey's life hadn't been easy. He had his moments of slip-ups --- a whole decade of it. So it's this guy who has been so down, but managed to rise up again who could bring a love-to-hate character to life.

Anyways, please don't expect this to be an unbiased review. I'm a fan, so of course Ironman 3 is worth my time. Just go watch it already! But if I really have to explain why, perhaps I could tell you a little about why this installment is where I feel Ironman 3 was at his vulnerable best.

It's not just his sudden onset acute anxiety attacks. It's the fact that as he travels through the madness he emerges on the other side with enough power to finally overcome his identity crisis. His hi-tech suits doesn't an Ironman make. It's who's inside the suit which makes a difference. Here we see a man hounded by fears for the safety of all that he loves and keeps trying to take control of the situation by building bigger and more powerful robots. He thinks, maybe if I make the suit strong enough, responsive enough, intelligent enough, I can save the world and the girl too. But then, in the end, he has to come into terms that the real avenger is not the Can, but the Man in the can.

Please also just Forgive and Forget all the deus ex machina scenes, or the fact that The Mandarin was turned into a comic relief character. (Ian tells me this bit was flabbergasting because the comic version isn't at all funny).

This movie is more sober than the first 2, although Tony Stark's theatrics hasn't wavered. I guess you could just try to view the movie from the perspective of a friend watching Stark grow up. We who are privileged to watch him evolve not just into a stronger superhero, but a better human being too. :D

Happy Viewing!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Good News Sunday 2nd Edition

Hi Everyone!

It's another good news Sunday!

This weekly blogging is harder than I thought! I had been occupied with a barrage of work and currently, I'm even in between trainings. But i couldn't let another Sunday pass without a slew of happy news. :D

Today, I choose to be happy about the fact that our dear President, Noynoy Aquino, is in the top 100 Most Influential People of Time Magazine for 2013. A lot of politics can make it hard to view any politician as decent, but I really believe the Aquino administration is sincere about their fight for corruption. We just shouldn't expect instant results. There's a possibility that the full impact of the changes being made now won't be felt for at least one more generation.

But at least we're doing something about it, and if we do manage to sustain it, we might just deserve our "Rising Star" branding from the global economic market.

And how about this insighful thought about the realities of civilization? Right on, I'd say. :D

Work wise, I am in the midst of the changes in the VSO global network where our induction process is going webby! The new blended learning journey is currently being introduced to our Pre-Departure Trainors so that they may continue providing support to the capacity needs of volunteers who want to make a difference in the world. Are you curious about volunteering? Here's a link to a happy story:

And finally, hope you have some time to relax, as I did, in this lovely nook here at Balay Indang in Cavite:

the sanctuary @ balay indang april 28, 2013

Happy Sunday Everyone!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Foodie Friday: Chelsea Market & Cafe

 Each of us have a favorite restaurant, one which nourishes the soul, and not just your tummy. I'm not talking about Jollibee or McDo. I am talking about a place that offers food you know isn't bad for you and the ambiance alone can make you forget how vexing your work week had been.

Ella and I consider Chelsea Market & Cafe one of our "nourishment for the soul" places. It's a bit on the pricey side (for our budget), so just the fact that we could only eat there once in a while makes it all the more special.

And the restaurant itself has that inviting feel of homely coziness. Quiet, uplifting music plays in the background, inviting you to stay and relish your food. No crazy, ubiquitous jingles trying to make you shove your food into your mouth faster than you can say Mississippi.

 Last Sunday, we decided to eat late lunch at Chelsea again. We've planned this for two weeks and my mouth is already watering at the thought of their glorious food. It's just that, everything we have ordered there so far tasted soooo good. Walang palya, pramis.

I have friends who said they didn't like what they ordered, or that it was overpriced for the quantity. But the ones I got to eat were always worth the couple hundred bucks per dish, and were always good for sharing. And ako ito ha? I eat good for 3 people on days like Sundays, so it's no mean feat to say you get really "busog" in Chelsea with a budget of Php 1,000- Php 1,500 for 2 persons. It sure is cheaper than Yakimix or Sambokojin where you could stuff your mouth but you have this ugly feeling afterwards that what you ate isn't exactly the best and the freshest.

Rosemary Pork belly Roast for Php 480
So last Sunday, what we ordered was the Rosemary Pork Belly Roast and the 3-Mushroom Truffle Cream Pasta, and a couple of iced drinks. And as always, it was fantastic!

The pork was crisp and the meat succulent. There was perfect meat to fat ratio so you know you're getting something lean and mean. The sauce was savoury with a hint of sweet in it, and complements the lovely mashed potatoes.

Yumminess. :D @ Php 450
 Meanwhile, my personal favourite is the 3 Mushroom Truffle Cream Pasta. First of all, I love Mushrooms. And I will marry cheese, if i can. And I will eat anything that has the world Truffle in them. So when the pasta came, and it was rich and creamy without being too heavy, I was delighted!

 Sulit na sulit na sulit. So worth it. Sometimes I wish we're swimming in cash so I could have breakfasts here or afford to have wine with our meals. But then again maybe it's special because it's a rare treat too.

If you find you have a bit of extra money, and craving for some soul food, maybe you should try Chelsea MArket & Cafe at the Podium Mall, Adb Avenue, Ortigas.

Happy Munching!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Foodie Friday Ep1 - Return to Innocence Egg Salad Sandwich

The other night, I was at Highlands Coffee in Emerald Avenue where they are selling Smoked Salmon and Egg Salad Sandwich for Php 139. I remember being flabbergasted but I bought it anyway because I haven't had a good egg sandwich for ages. Unfortunately, the sandwich was a disappointment. The bread was too dry, and the spread wasn't as generous as I needed it to be. I made a resolution to make my own and avoid being hoodwinked into commercialized egg sandwiches again.

The problem is, I have never ever made an egg salad sandwich in my life ! That's the thing about egg salad for me, I see it as a token of love because my Mom and my Tia Ely were the only ones who ever made one for us. It's always just there, isn't it? And it's just for the kids, right? .

This first of a series will feature how I made my own grown-up version of the Egg Salad Sandwich.

What You Need:
3 large eggs
1 pint Mayo / Pickle relish combo or
       I used Ladys' Choice Sandwich Spread
Parmesan Cheese
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
a pinch of sugar (to neutralize sour taste of the sandwich spread)
Smoked Salmon
1 tsp bits of blue cheese


1. Boil eggs for 10 minutes or until you figured it's already hard-boiled. Let cool in a vat of water afterwards. Then remove shells and have the time of your life smashing it to bits.
2. Mix eggs and sandwich spread together. Add chives (lots of em), salt and pepper to taste, sugar til sourness is neutralized, and tiny bits of blue cheese.
3. Don't overdo the salt because you would want the saltiness to come from the ground Parmesan Cheese. Sprinkle liberally.
4. Prepare sesame loaf slices by slightly toasting it the bread toaster. Then lay down appropriate amount of smoked salmon on the toast.
5. Here's the key: Ladle generous amounts of the egg salad mixture onto to the bread. If you have a waffle maker, you can then press the bread to toast it more.

And there we have it, ladies and gents, you have your childhood egg salad with a grown-up twist.

I had mine with lots of Arizona iced tea, and some chips. Lovely.

Hope you enjoy yours. :D

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Mid-Week Hallelujah!

Some people have an issue with Mondays. I, however, have an issue with Mondays and the mid-week hump. Getting to Friday can sometimes feel like you're swimming in a cesspool of dead dreams. So to avoid turning into an unimaginative drone, I am going to self-motivate.

I am going to gather fantastic (nothing less!) quotes which really speaks to me, or share a funny story that happened in the workplace, or simply share a work incident which makes me happy. I am not an Accountant after all (due to absolutely zero Math skills), and my work stories can go beyond fascinating actuary and into the heart warming miscellany.

Just the other day, a volunteering group in Mongolia (yes, that faraway Mongolia) is asking for help in setting up systems for their volunteering programs. Aside from the pretty possibility of my going to Ulan Bataar, I am also amazed at the their enthusiasm to empower their people to participate in their country's development. If this so many people want to help and make a difference, then why are we still struggling so much? I resolve to find the answer to this in the course of my lifetime.

And finally, here goes the quotes I feel connected to this week.


So needed the latter. :D Have a good mid-day, everyone!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Movie Monday: Oblivion

(the first official Movie Monday post from the resuscitated Geek's Guide)

Yes, I know.

Haven't we all tired of Tom Cruise yet?

Not sure if you've been noticing it lately, but our dear TC has become a one-trick pony. Well, true, not just one trick per se, but his bag of tricks have been needing a freshening up as of late. He's become too much of an Action Star (with Capital A and S), and every time he does any supposedly new stunt, you feel the tickling of deja vu somewhere in your brain.

Perhaps nobody was excited about Oblivion. I mean, with the barrage of dystopian movies we've been having lately, one does get desensitized. But I was excited about it because I love the terrible future we have ahead of us. I love how in our movies, we overcome it all-- how we transcend. One person could hope, right? i hope it all proves true that our inner heroes emerge just as the world around us all fall down.

I have mixed feelings about Oblivion. The story was great, although hole-y. The actors were good, except you've seen it all before. But put it all together, you get a decent, quite near-great movie. The cinematography is fascinating, and added to, instead of overwhelming the, movie's story. Ian and I stepped out of the theater feeling quite satisfied. It was even good enough to merit an after-movie discussion over dinner. Believe me, there are movies I'd sooner erase from memory. But this one is --- yeah, it's okay.

I will watch anything with Morgan Freeman in it. And Tom Cruise, who I can't help but see as a lonely, tired control freak outside of the theater, was his usual engaging and believable acting self in this recent film.

I do recommend watching this in the theaters rather than your laptop or tv. Don't worry, the Php 250 would be worth it. :D Just don't overthink the plot, and enjoy the ride.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Good News Sunday: You Choose.

Today, you woke up, chose to get out of bed, cook breakfast, attend Mass, kiss your kids. Savour Sundays, if only because we only get a limited number of it in a lifetime.

For the first ever Good News Sunday post here at Geek's Guide, I feel great about the following:

1. Yes, Donaire did lose his boxing bout today. But isn't it fantastic that we have two, perhaps three, of this Decade's best boxers in history? People actually turned out to watch this fight. Not just Pinoys, but people from around the world. Obviously, this is not Amateur Night, people. :D

2. Cats are all over the Internet. But Dog-Lovers unite! Here is one undeniably cute post of french bulldogs and the baldest baby I've ever seen this side of the net-verse. Ha! Take that, kitty cat!

3. According to Rappler, a lot of people are HAPPY about the recent Senatorial debates. It's been pretty telling who of the candidates wants it bad, and who might actually be decent enough to vote. Have you got your line-up already? Feel free to share.

4. Bloomberg names Philippines as one of the Top 20 emerging markets. This sounds like good news, eh? I know it would take some time before this news translate to our day-to-day lives, but the promise of a better economy is a step forward. And all we need is good media anyhow to re-establish our image in the global arena. However, this ought to inspire us to become better citizens instead of shrugging it off as temporary. How can you help? :D

5. Oh and did you hear that we were also touted as one of the top diving sites in the world? We're 3rd in the Scuba Diving Magazine Top 100 Readers' Choice Survey for 2013. I don't dive (yet), but i do love snorkeling and I still don't have the words to describe what I saw the first time I saw what's underneath our lovely blue seas. Makes me itch to go to the beach as in now na.

There's our round-up today. Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone. Watch out for next week's Good News Sunday!

A Storied Life

And if your story is only about how you live your life, what fascinates you, what gets you out of bed in the morning, who you love... then it is a story worth getting out there.

Sounds a bit narcissistic, doesn't it? But all writers, and I mean all writers have a bit of Narcissus in them, and a huge bit of Pandora too. What if? What then? How now?

I should cut ties with this blog, I feel weighed down by all the memories and the thoughts of my old self. But ...

If my principle truly is about evolution, about transcendence and living life well, then what better testament than the mistakes I made in the past? My story has started years ago, and what has happened in the past has made me the person I am now.

I am still a confused jumble of notions and beliefs. I still ask a ton of questions, most of them left unanswered in one big Parking Lot for thoughts. But I feel different. I can hear a voice inside getting stronger, awake now after years of forced hermitage.

Nothing else would please me more than to meet this person emerging from within me. And by writing about it, I hope you get to meet her too.

This story, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes inane, more often than not self-centered, but always striving to be authentic --- it goes on. :D

Thursday, April 11, 2013

First Snow

When was the last time you did something for the first time? When was the last time you were awed by something unfamiliar and new?

I was 17 years old when I told myself never to allow my future self to fall into mediocrity or apathy. I had no idea what lay ahead, and it was so easy to make promises that sounded easy enough to accomplish, given the circumstances I have always known. I used to have what jaded people call the mythical drive to be someone who does something important with her life.

What I didn’t know is that there will be events in my life that will terrify me, will break me and unglue me. I didn’t know it will take me preternatural effort to pull myself together and use all my energy to impede self-implosion. I didn’t know how safe Mediocrity could become to someone forced to evacuate her comfort zone.

I wish I had been one of those people whose reaction to grief was to push forward, climb mountains and tame lions. My nature and nurture instinct was to pull the covers over my head instead. I retreated from Life, because it has become a scarier, surreal place where everything that made sense was turned upside down. I lived like this for years. I have wasted the latter part of my 20s tiptoeing around, trying not to rock the boat.

But there’s nothing like the freezing cold to wake up the senses. The last time I did something for the first time was to taste snow. The last thing that awed me was a mini-snowman with thumb tacks for eyes, peanut for a nose and stick for a mouth.

By some benevolent act of Fate and Faith, I found myself fulfilling a dream I’ve had since I was 4 years old. To touch, feel, be in the snow. I could’ve held snow in Korea or China or Japan. But none of them would resonate with me by aligning the two things I have always wanted to do. Snow in London is a league of its own, at least to me. It’s the best of my best daydreams. It was unbelievable to the point of miraculous. You know how some virgins say it matters who and how your first is? If you wanted Ryan Gosling to be the first, and you want it to be awesome, but life could only afford you either Ryan Gosling or awesome and never both, wouldn’t you feel the tiniest bit of regret? Well, imagine how it felt for me to have both Gosling and awesomeness.

Standing in the middle of a surprise snowstorm in the heart of London was the wake up call I needed. Finally, I realized it’s time to shake off the bed covers, comb my hair, brush my teeth and venture into the new breakfast season of my life. And breakfast is always awesome.

I have been broken, terrified and unglued. But I have survived by allowing and recognizing the small miracles in my life. In terms of a life well-lived, I may have lost some time, but I never lost the path.