Back to the drawing board

the last time i picked up a sketch pad was two years ago, right before i moved to singapore. even back then, i wasn’t too happy about the way i was drawing.
i used to be capable of copious amounts of concentration when i was a kid, something that changed as i grew older. if it wasn’t finished in ten or fifteen minutes, i would drop it. the thought of spending hours working at a drawing or painting appealed to me less and less. ironically, even though i was spending much less time actually drawing, i started believing that the reason i didn’t do it as often was that i just didn’t have as much free time as i used to.
i started toying with the idea of drawing again after seeing fashionation’s post on outfit drawings vs outfit photos. although i love clothes and dressing up, i never got into the whole posting-what-you-wear daily phenomenon sweeping the blogosphere. but the idea of drawing myself in my outfits seemed fantastic! mainly because it could be a way of drawing regularly again, like i did one semester when i had to keep a visual journal for an art elective. and… i can make myself thinner!
my first attempt at style journaling was an affair that can be summed up in four words: cute outfit, terrible drawing. and so while browsing one friday night at kinokuniya, i decided to get serious about overhauling my drawing skills and bought this.
i finally got to crack this book open on saturday (after stuffing my face with salpicao). i must have spent an hour to two hours just sketching.
my first attempt at figures. you can see that the very first one, on the right, has the same figure flaws as i do: short legs, saddlebags and knock knees :P using the eight-head rule of proportion, i quickly got the hang of it after a few repetitions, although my figures still tend to have overbroad shoulders and too-long thighs.
after a few tries, i was confident enough to draw a figure without the guide lines. i think it turned out pretty well!
moving on to profiles, however, presented a bigger challenge. i don’t think i’ve ever drawn a profile in my life. thus the many, many disastrous attempts. such as the presence of the joker.
this is one of the better (and quicker) profiles i produced, thanks to the neat trick marlon taught me about drawing guide lines for profiles. he draws much more realistically than i do, by the way.

EFFORT! and that’s just the face! after i nail these profiles, it’s on to the back view (which honestly seems SO much easier) and three-quarters… and poses upon poses.

only then can i start having fun with the clothes. baby steps, baby steps…

Salpicao Saturday!

i can’t let this weekend go by without blogging about the most blissful saturday i’ve had in ages! i haven’t thoroughly enjoyed a saturday since… since… gp’s birthday picnic in central park! ay mali sunday pala yon. ngek. suffice it to say it’s been a long time since i’ve enjoyed a saturday with absolutely NOTHING on the agenda. no travel, no work, no rakets, no muay thai, no movie… NOTHING!
a sumptuous sign of good things to come was the juicy, beautifully marbled cut of australian tenderloin we found at the new, fancy-shmancy grocery on the fourth floor of ion orchard. when i say fancy, i mean fancy — they had shelves dedicated to imports from dean & deluca, fauchon and hediard!
now marlon is the carnivore in this family (meat just grosses me out), but i had a months-long craving for salpicao that was tearing at me to be fulfilled. and with the nearest dulcinea a plane ride away, i was actually desperate enough to learn how to cook the damned dish myself. so armed with a shockingly easy recipe from market manila, i did!

i tell you, the smell of frying garlic and knorr (KNORR!!!) brought tears to my eyes. (the house still smells like salpicao a day later, and to me that can only be a good thing.) marlon was nearly beside himself with joy watching the tiny, tender bites of beef seared to perfection. i was elated to see the sauce caramelizing just the way a good salpicao sauce should.

sitting down to our salpicao lunch, marlon kept thanking me for craving for salpicao so obsessively (beef rarely makes an appearance in our weekly grocery list). i was astounded at how something i cooked turned out so perfectly! my kapraningan usually drives me to keep to recipes with military discipline, but not so with this salpicao. it was my first time to cook completely by feel… no teaspoons, measuring cups, nothing! my kitchen confidence skyrocketed with every bite.

i would definitely cook this again… but the beef is so damn expensive i would probably keep it for very, very special guests. maybe when my mom and sister come over!
salt-and-garlic cravings satisfied and carnivorous husband happily stuffed, i finally sat down to do the ultra-babaw, mindlessly kikay things i had been itching to do for weeks.
but those deserve separate posts altogether ;)

Clues blues

the birthday guessing game continues.

1) i can now enjoy 1/4 of my gift on my birthday (previously, i couldn’t enjoy it on my birthday at all).
2) marlon and i have talked about the gift recently. (thanks ha! now i have to mentally replay all our conversations for at least the past three months)
3) marlon will present me with a handmade clue this weekend.
still stumped! gaah.

Moving on

it is hard to move on, isn’t it?

i feel like i should be blogging about the events of last week. not just the storm and all the discontent it stirred up in me and many of our countrymen, but also unbelievably sad and infuriating events that happened to my nearest and dearest.
but i just realized that being able to leave these events in the past is actually a huge blessing! and so is the safety and closeness of my family. we are fortunate in so many ways.
i also realized i had been feeling guilty for being to continue with “normal” life here in singapore despite the widespread tragedy back home. but the life i have here is a blessing too — although if you had looked at me all twisted up with worry last week, you’d never have guessed.
so i begin to embrace normal life again, and remind myself that i’m not a bad person, or heartless or useless, for being where i am, having what i have, and being comfortable.
(yes, i know. i can be hard on myself for absolutely no reason.)
so it’s back to regular programming for me. and that’s a blessing. it is in my prayers tonight, and for the nights to come, that all those who most need this blessing receive it too.

Oh, Ondoy

i woke late on saturday and spent most of the early afternoon on facebook and twitter. almost all the status updates on my home page were about the torrential rains in manila, and mild things like hassle of being stuck in traffic or the joy of bed weather. i didn’t give it much thought — i was going to the f1 rocks beyonce and black eyed peas concert in fort canning that evening, and i was preoccupied with figuring out what to wear in case it rained. (it didn’t.)

before i left for f1 rocks at 4 pm, i wondered briefly whether i should call mom and find out if she was ok. mandaluyong is notorious for flooding, particularly near city hall. we used to live a street away from city hall, the lowest point in town, and moved out right after suffering through a single rainy season with waist-deep floods. i brushed off the thought, thinking that the area we live in now has never flooded, ever.

at 2am, after the (incidentally, phenomenal) BEP and beyonce shows, i was cooling down with a late dinner and cold drinks with marlon at chijmes when i received a text from my sister. our house was flooded up to sink (thigh) level, the entire sala was afloat, and the ref was submerged.

TOTAL SHOCK. that meant three women (my mom, tita raquel and our maid rosiele) and FIVE dogs were all upstairs. thoughts whirled in my head (was the roof dripping as well? did they have food and water? would all the sockets downstairs get wrecked? did they manage to bring up any of the electronics?) as i realized there was nothing i could do but call the next morning. the only consolation i could think of was that my sister had sold the car after we moved abroad, otherwise it would have been heartbreaking to see it wrecked in the flood

the morning after

i called mom on sunday morning. i knew she would be okay, maybe stressed out and tired at most, but i had to talk to her just to be sure. i caught her just as the flood waters had subsided and she was surveying the extent of the damage. she told me how difficult it was to try and save as much as they could, just her and the maid. other houses in the compound have men in the house and more people in the household, so they got more things done. “hindi na ako nagpatulong,” she said. “pag ganyan, talagang kanya-kanya na.”

still, i could hear the relief in her voice when she told me that our house was still one of the cleanest and least damaged in the compound. some of the neighbors had to abandon their houses. floods were higher in the lower-situated houses. their cars were damaged. the marketplace nearby had chest-deep floods.

because she’s moving out of the house in october, mom had books, clothes and other things packed in boxes and stored on the first floor. all the boxes melted away, leaving our things in a soggy and dirty mess. my heart sank thinking about how much effort mom put into packing; now she has to do everything all over again.

still, i’m just thankful she’s ok.

heartbreaking, heartening

watching the videos and seeing the pictures posted on facebook, youtube and twitter has left me with a mixed bag of emotions.

i am proud to see the strength of fortunate filipinos who are pulling together to organize rescue and relief operations. i saw so many people who felt it was unacceptable to just watch the typhoon take its toll. people literally could not rest until they found a way to help.

i am incensed at the ineptitude of the government. the strength, responsiveness, compassion and capability of the private sector only highlights their selfishness and irresponsibility. if public funds were properly channeled and used, would our city crumble so easily? would we have been better equipped to rescue people?

i am hoping against hope. will something good come out of this? will we — both the people and the government — learn something this time around? will we take action to make sure this never happens again? i can only think of the numerous dikes and clearly marked escape routes i saw in phuket post-tsunami, and hope someone, anyone, comes up with a plan for the future.

i am heartbroken by so many images. the gleaming white walls of a friend’s newly finished dream home, turned to mud. her shiny new grand piano sinking into brown waters. a dog found drowned in a cage. smashed cars piled up on top of each other in ways i didn’t even think possible. i don’t even want to think about the dead bodies captured by cameramen roving cainta and marikina.

i am amazed by the humor and resilience of filipinos, who can smile, laugh and joke while neck-deep in water.

i am suddenly uncertain about my future, our future in manila. we had planned to finally put down the first payment for a lot in a friend’s subdivision this december. we were even thinking of paying for the lot in full after getting our christmas bonuses. but after seeing photos of all the houses in the area submerged up to the first floor, now we are not so sure.

i am thankful my family is alright, and that we have extra cash to send mom for repairs and things that need to be replaced. we even have a little left over to send to the red cross — just because my family isn’t the only one that’s been affected.

i am afraid for the storm that is supposed to hit manila this wednesday and thursday. i want my mom to check into a hotel, but she doesn’t want to leave the dogs.

i am praying. still.

Clueless

it’s officially a month to go until my 28th birthday!

marlon loves to torment me with very cryptic hints about what my birthday gift will be. he finds an almost evil glee in making his clues so obscure that they end up confusing rather than enlightening me.
i figured i should keep track of these clues to see how they actually match up to reality later on. after all, past experience has proven that he’s not beyond making up fictitious clues just to completely throw me off.
these are the birthday clues so far:
1) i can’t enjoy it on my birthday, this year or any year.
2) it’s light cream.
3) it’s a thing that can be turned into an event.
4) it comes in three parts or phases.
any guesses? i’m stumped.

Surreal

it’s surreal to think that tomorrow, i’ll be en route to new york. cue ate guy: “di ako makapaniwala…”

my mind is already flying off ahead of me. i want to go home and prepare for the trip: read my time out guidebook, choose a restaurant and make reservations for the one special (read: expensive) dinner that we promised to treat ourselves to, and omg WAX AND EPILATE! and generally rest up before we begin tomorrow’s mad amazing race-ish dash to tor’s wedding in manhattan on saturday morning.

but there are still presentations to do, meetings to go to and interns to brief. and if you knew how detailed their briefings have to be, just so they don’t mess up casting while i’m gone, maloloka kayo.

as in, yung isa sa kanila nagreklamo na kaya daw siya nahihirapan mag-facilitate ng auditions ay dahil simula nang mag-kolehiyo siya, hindi na raw siya masyadong nag-iingles. ANO BA! e yung alipores ko ngang koreana hindi nagdadahilan ng ganyan! kaya ginawan ko siya ng powerpoint na babasahin na lang ng mga mow-thel bago sila um-emote para hindi na siya kailangang magsalita.

tapos dahil hindi siya makaisip ng anong papagawin niya sa mga mow-thel (kahit na nandun naman sa harap niya yung storyboard), ginawan ko siya ng iskrip na babasahin na lang niya sa mga mudel para mapa-emote sila. mabait naman ang batang ito, pero JOSKODUDAY KAILANGAN DE KUTSARA LAHAT!

and to top it all off, marlon is “working from home” today and isn’t going to work tomorrow. one of my last glimpses of him before i left this morning was surrounded by pillows, bundled up in a comforter, reading eragon. kakainez! i wanted to throttle him.

ok i shall now reel in my altapresyon. eyes on the prize! i’m leaving tomorrow and that’s what matters!

A little luho goes a long way

i was majorly down in the dumps this whole week, and it all came to a head on friday night. as meltdowns go, friday night is an excellent time to have one — you simply wake up next morning and it’s the weekend! thank goodness!
paragon

marlon and i had planned to spend all day on orchard road to go to the salon and get a few things done before leaving for new york (squee!) this coming week. marlon had a horrible mishap two weeks ago at our regular salon in novena, where he’d been getting his hair cut for the past three years — the inept junior stylist snipped his ear! understandably, he completely blew his top and threatened never to come back again (of course, damay ako). so i decided to book us at action salon in paragon after reading about it in cleo. 
being in paragon, we just had to have lunch at one of our favorite places: ps cafe, where the clientele is extremely white and the food is fantastic. like many fantastic things in singapore, though, it costs an arm and a leg (for a light lunch), so we consider it a treat that should be reserved for just once in a while. 
which is the same category i would put action salon. the service was absolutely great — i love my swingy new cut (no bangs! for the first time in years!) and my new hair colour, which is a deep mahogany that i swear makes my complexion look even fairer. and the pedi was actually closer to a foot spa than a basic pedi. but man, full service — and good service — in singapore will really cost you. marlon said he actually felt faint after seeing the bill for our afternoon of pampering, which included two haircuts, two colour jobs, an express hair treatment and a pedicure. 
oh, i forgot — in the ten minutes we had before the salon appointment, i had just enough time to buy a pair of ballet flats by stella mccartney for adidas. (a brand that i love but don’t actually own — until now.) perfect walking shoes for new york! and they were 30% off!
takashimaya
still reeling from the salon bill, hubby and i crossed the road from paragon to takashimaya on slightly wobbly legs, assuaging our salon guilt with numerous compliments on each other’s new hairdo. once we were inside taka, i breathed a sigh of relief — time to put away the cash and use my beloved takashimaya vouchers! i love using vouchers, it’s like getting stuff for free.
i still had nearly $200 dollars worth of vouchers that marlon racked up at work, so i used them to buy essentials like skin-tone bras from wacoal (after being horrified by the dreaded four-breasted phenomenon caused by the ill-fitting bras at triumph) and lovely new powder foundation at bobbi brown (my reward for hitting the 10-pound weight loss mark!). 
naturally, after being pampered by the impressively trained counter girl at bobbi brown, i ended up not just with foundation but an undereye concealer, a blemish stick and a bobbi brown club membership for a minimum purchase of $150! gaaah. it was the six free makeup lessons that hooked me. i had to top up my vouchers with cash, but never mind! i shall be poor yet flawless!
ion orchard
we ended up checking out the new mall on orchard (oh no! let’s spend saturday checking out the trendy new mall on orchard! let’s go to three malls in one afternoon! help, i’m turning local! ), this overwhelming glass behemoth called ion. 
ion photo from time out singapore
as you can see, it’s quite pretty. i actually regret not bringing my camera, but i’m pretty sure i’ll be back. one of the things i liked about the place was that though there was quite a horde of mallgoers, i never felt that the mall was crowded.
that and BERSHKA! omg. one of my favorite european high street stores has come to singapore. marlon has recently been fully converted to the cult of uniqlo, so we went to the spanking new uniqlo store to pay obeisance (and get him a new shirt and sandals). to end the day, we had the yummiest crispy black pepper duck at the fancy food court at ion (called food opera, for some bizarre reason). winner, ang sarap niya
marlon packed me off in a taxi with the day’s purchases, and he went off to his boys’ night out at clarke quay. and now i’m home. 
at home with my new hair, new foundation and new ballet flats

after this entire exercise, i was truly amazed at how basics like bras and foundation (notice how i omit the concealer and blemish stick) can feel like luhos when in fact they are just basics! it is so hard to find just the right ones, scoring a perfectly fitting bra and barely-there foundation can feel like such a huge triumph. 
and it boggles the mind sometimes when you realize how much you can spend in a single day in singapore. i am equally amazed at how much you can spend simply attempting to feel like a human being again after a long bout of illness and a stressful week at work. 
with these epiphanies, i end my litany of consumerism. good night.

Hubby’s home

… and he comes bearing gifts. 

i couldn’t possibly imagine what there was to buy in cincinnati, ohio, but he succeeded. he brought me a deep purple wheelie suitcase that’s perfect as a carry-on for the new york trip. we had been stressing out on our close-cut transfers and decided to do away with check-in luggage. it’s certified and approved by all US domestic airlines as carry-on baggage, so it’s perfect. he also got himself a matching one in black. 
marlon also bought me a bag of reese’s peanut butter cups, which are impossible to find here. in keeping with tradition, he bought me a box of godiva truffles, which was his standard pasalubong for me every time he’d visit me in manila. he started buying it for me because i used to tell him how uncle david would bring godiva from brussels for me and my sister when we were younger, and how much i loved it.
the best pasalubong was rolled up and tucked into one of the wheelie’s many pockets: a wad of hundred dollar bills that singapore airlines gave him as compensation for bumping him off an overbooked flight, plus a $100 inflight shopping voucher!
poor dear was so out of it. strangely enough, i was too. we spent the remainder of sunday afternoon cuddling on the couch, planning the new york itinerary and just being domestic together. then we went out for window shopping and a surprisingly pricey but comfortingly yummy fondue dinner at cafe swiss in city hall. 
with him back home and my flu all gone, life is back to normal :)

Soothe me

so i could blog about the epic mcdonalds delivery fail that took 3.5 hours to reach my house. but i have wasted far too much of my saturday on them as it is, and i really need something to bring my temper down to a nice normal level again.

good think jett shared the latest arrangement by eric whitacre, one of my (and acs’s) favorite choral composers, a setting of rudyard kipling’s “the seal lullaby” for female voices. 
have a listen, it’s beautifully haunting and lush. i must have listened to it at least half a dozen times today.
i looked up the words of the complete poem, and reading it is just what i needed to lay this long and at times frustratingly pointless day to rest.

Seal Lullaby by Rudyard Kipling
Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, O’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow.
Oh, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, no shark overtake thee
Asleep in the arms of slow-swinging seas.

thank goodness for pleasures like music, and friends who love to share, and discovering poems. we all need things like these.

and after just one more night’s sleep, marlon will be home :)