Monthly Archives: May 2007

Salt

… or should I say a grain of it?

Let me back up a bit and provide some context before I explain the salt thing.

I’ve been back here in Manila for almost two years now and I must admit that the first 1.5 years were difficult. I came back and stayed mostly for reasons that had to do with my family and particularly my mom (who was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in March of 2006). During this time I ended up going back to my passion (writing and literature) and I’m also doing what I never thought I’d be doing, at least not this early in the game – teaching at a respected university (DLSU Manila).

And the super extra bonus of all bonuses – Jay and I also found each other again, after 12 years of bad timing, geographic obstacles, and general life flux. Yay! 🙂

But I had to get used to a lot of other things that I didn’t have to deal with when I was living abroad. At least not to the extent that I feel like I do here. I’m talking about gossip. No, I’m not saying it’s something unique to us Pinoys so please don’t get your panties in a bundle. But from my personal experience, people gossip a lot over here.

I guess it’s a bit more obvious to me because before I was living in Washington, DC, where, in gossip’s stead, people talked about politics and social justice issues like it was going out of style. But our subjects were public figures (and their political agenda/issues equally public), so I guess they’re fair game to be ‘gossiped about’. But when people start talking about people you actually know, it all of a sudden makes for an uncomfortable situation altogether. At least for me it does.  Or it did… I guess you could say I’ve developed a thicker skin.

As my boss likes to say, I’ve been reintroduced to the mangniniras, the ‘haters’ who are displeased with their current predicament so they make it a personal mission to bring you down with them. It exists everywhere and has different monikers (oh – read the current issue of Psychology Today and it discusses mangniniras in Australia and New Zealand; in their parts it’s called “tall poppy syndrome,” first introduced to me by my Auzzie-Pinay friend and maid of honor [along with Dre], Wendy).

Now, like I said in my April 28 post, I had plugged in the names of my suppliers in the W@W e-group/forum search engine to see what other brides (past and present) had to say about each of them. I wasn’t going to blog about it because a moderator told me that it could influence (negatively) other brides out there who may be swayed by what I had to say. It could mean bad business for my suppliers.

But I’ve thought long and hard about it and I realize that that’s giving me way too much credit and empowerment (although… thank you?) – Jay and I and this little blog, after all, are little fish inside a very big blog pond, and what the heck do we know except what we personally think and feel, based on our own very subjective experiences?  As a writer, I’m also not the best of friends with censorship.

Additionally, it’s not giving other couples out there enough credit. I’m sure if we can sort through the muck, they can, too.

So I will say this – almost all of my suppliers (except Chinkie, our coordinator) received negative reviews. In fact, our designer and florist had a string of bad ones. But they also received glowing reviews. And after talking it over with Jay, we’ve decided to take everything with a grain of salt. Marimi talagang mga mangninira.

I could tell that a few disgruntled brides in the e-group didn’t have the best experience with a few of my suppliers; they’re entitled to their opinions. But I can distinguish between one bad experience and an agenda, as some are on a personal mission to sway other brides from going through the same hell. But that’s their hell. Who knows, perhaps they were a bit bridezilla to begin with. 🙂 Or perhaps expectations were never on equal level. Whatever the reasons, as a discerning couple, you really have to weigh out the good and the bad reviews that you read in e-groups/forums with your own personal experience with a particular supplier because everything is relative. What was rude to one couple may be seen as strictly professional and direct for another. What’s tacky to one couple may be classy for another, right?

One of my suppliers was called ‘binge’ (deaf… grabe!), there were complaints about how high a particular make-up artist’s rates are – but then again what is high for one person is affordable for another, and to my knowledge, the supposed ‘binge’ supplier of mine heard me loud and clear when I chatted with him.

So couples, YOU be the judge. Take everything you hear and read with a grain of salt. Yes, a pattern of bad behavior should set off red flags. But trust your instincts and be weary of reviews (especially nega ones) that sound too much alike because they could be written by the same person/couple who have an agenda. Go with your personal taste, preferences, and experiences. Which means beyond the forums and e-groups, if you can spare the time, go and meet with each supplier so that you can weigh out your options yourselves instead of basing your choices on someone else’s perceptions.

With that said – happy supplier hunting to all!

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Rolling With The Punches

Taking the good with the bad. You win some, you lose some. However you want to say it, we got a heavy dose of it this past weekend.

After our successful and unforgettable trip to Camarines Sur last month (here and here), we were stoked to be invited back to the Bicol province. This time around, our plan was to visit another island that eluded us previously, Caramoan Island. Arrive on a Friday morning, head back home on a Monday morning. Tickets booked, 4 am alarm, 45 minute flight, touchdown in Naga City. Once we got off the runway and into our chauffeured van, we were fooling around like giddy little children, excited for the adventure ahead.

Unfortunately, it was downhill from there.

For whatever reason, our plans were not arranged (which I assume was because of the media blitz for the Kaogma Festival, that might have been slightly overwhelming for the tourism department) and the powers that be couldn’t pull it out for us. No Caramoan Island. I was pissed. Cathy was pissed. We were now stressed-out, pissed off little children. When things turn from bad to worse you tend to nitpick and the inconvenient get magnified times 10. So, realizing that things just weren’t lining up for us and we were wasting time there, we decided to cut our trip short and head back Sunday morning. We felt defeated and it was only a few hours into our trip.

But we refused to let it bring us down! We refuse to take it up the tailpipe! We stuck it to the Man! That’s right, stuck it to to the Man! So we went to the nearest Shakey’s for some Mojo’s n’ Dip and a cold mug of San Miguel Draft. Take that Man!

Joking aside, I realized over this weekend, that it’s really comforting to know that no matter how bad things may get, I can always look beside me and know that Cathy is there to help make it better. So despite the series of unfortunate events, we were able to turn things around and still have a good time there. The beer and chips at Shakey’s, a great dinner at Peaberry’s, listening to Eartha Kitt, free wifi, watching 30 Rock, and indulging ourselves in a little Youtube action (the last four were all done over dinner by the way). Watched the Travel and Living channel till we fell asleep, and we were up the next morning for the trip back home. It still ended up being a memorable experience.

Stick by your loved ones and roll with the punches. I like that.

Cathy Self Portrait at Peaberry’s Self-portrait at Peaberry’s.

Sticking It To The Man Sticking it to the man.

Peaberry’s The classy Peaberry’s

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Admissions

There are certain things that Jay and I will admit to in planning our wedding:

1) We are lucky and yes, privileged. We are aware that the cost of our flowers alone costs three times as much as our co-worker’s entire bill for his wedding. When our Catholic Guilt gets the best of us we heave and sob and stay up at night telling ourselves that we are going to burn in hell. But then my mom is always the first one to bring me back from inferno, telling me that she will kick my a$$ if we don’t get quality flowers, or centerpieces, that people can take home and admire.

2) There are some so-called wedding traditions (if you do research, you’ll soon find out that the seemingly historically rooted accoutrement were created by the very people who profit from the wedding industry and who happily take money from wide-eyed brides and nervous grooms who want to make sure that they have a diamond ring that isn’t too big, but isn’t too small, either) that we will forego.

Like fireworks. As I type, I hear fireworks in the background… omg!!! Providential.

And the parlor games at the reception, the throwing of this or that (because you know if you’re throwing something, you’re going to have it buy it first). Of course I’ll throw (or perhaps just hand?) my bouquet to… someone… 🙂 But we’ll really do away or borrow the little things, like the arrhae (huh?) and the ring pillows (we’ll have them in a velvet pouch that I already have and my friend, Charley, will be our ring bearer so she’ll keep it in her purse), by taking from what we already have or from Jay’s brother, who got married last year. But for sure, we’re buying the important stuff for the church ceremony, like our family bible.

3) We want to look fly. So we’re spending on designers.

4) We want to be immortalized looking fly. So we’re having two photographers (Terry Uy and Jill Lejano) and a videographer (Threelogy). As some of you know, Jay is a kick-ass photog, and I’m starting-out myself, so images, both still and moving, are a priority. Since Jay and I want to look through every second of the wedding video footage, unedited, he and I will edit it ourselves (well, Jay will edit it for the most part, I’ll point and make comments :)).

5) We want to make sure that the exchange of our vows is special, so we want a top-notch choir to serenade us through the ceremony. My dad wants MADZ. But when I do the math, I really can’t justify dropping P50,000 for an hour. Even if it’s for MADZ (sorry! more power!). My dad is insisting. I’m resisting. We’re thinking a younger choir may fit more with our theme anyway.

Any suggestions? Has anyone heard Ateneo Glee Club? UP Singing Ambassadors? UA&P Chorale? Or a boy’s choir?

6) We want mad tunes at the reception, and after an hour of eating, speeches, that kind of thing – we want to open up the dance floor so people can D-A-N-C-E! YEAAAAAA!!! So yes, we want a quality dj.

But you know… I’ve really calmed down a lot in the planning. Now we just have to go on taste tests, that kind of thing, but I really don’t want to get sucked into more and more costs because… we have the rest of our lives, for pete’s sake. I also just read this article on Salon.com and the last thing I want is to be a sucker… or is it to be a level 10 sucker as opposed to just a… let’s say a 6 or 7? That’s where we’re (mostly me, coughcough) at now and would like to stay there.

🙂

We’d like to reiterate that we are not here to judge anyone for the choices that they are making with regards to their wedding. It’s your day. Spend your bucks, time, energy, love, patience, patience, patience, however you want to spend it! As long as you are growing closer as partners, you’re happy, and you can afford it, tickle yourselves pink with the planning and execution, by all means!

Oh, we forgot one more thing. We want bubbles throughout the day and lots of it.

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Home

We both know and agree that even though the Big Day will be…well, a big day, what comes after that is more important. Literally. After the reception where do we go? Where do we go ‘home’?

So Cathy and I have been looking around for a place we would like to call home. Staying with the parental units has always been an option open to us, but not an option we would like to take. Sure, we would save a lot of money. But nothing’s more important to a married couple (before the first-born that is) than having a place of their own that they can truly call their ‘home’. I think it’s such a psychological and emotional advantage to have a home to take care of as a married couple. It places responsibility and stability in the relationship. Plus it just great to come home to each other after a long day’s work.

We’ve looked around the Makati area, and found some great one to two bedrooms around Salcedo Village. We saw a total of about 10 units in two days. After all the ‘square meters’, ‘inches’, ‘feet’, ‘meters’, ‘association dues’, ‘down payment’, ‘amortization fees’, ‘selling price’, ‘capital gains’, ‘taxes’, ‘one bedroom’, ‘two bedroom’, ‘parking space’,’pool’, ‘gym’, ‘function room’, ’10a’, ’17b’, ‘1204’, and a bunch of other numbers, we found a place that we liked. Although we haven’t committed to it, at least we know what we’re looking for.

The whole process is such a great and rewarding experience. Once we stepped in a unit, all the ‘figures’ and ‘terms’ flew out the window, we were walking around talking about “oh, here’s where we can hang the photos!”, “here’s where we can put the book shelf!”, “i could cook breakfast here!”, “do you want to put the bed this way?”. It was great. Visualizing your home together.

Here’s some tips when you go home hunting (other than the obvious: know your budget, get a broker, location, location, location):

1. Bring measuring tape. Prior to that, measure any existing furniture you have that you’re thinking of bringing over to the new place.

2. Take notes of every unit, so you can sit back and look over everything at the end of the day. Note down measurements and pros and cons.

3. Keep an open mind. There won’t be a perfect unit. There will always be something about the place you don’t like. But if you feel good once you step into the place, then take note of that too. Intuition is powerful when home hunting. It will be your home so it should make you feel good.

We’re still in the process ourselves, so if any you have any tips or suggestions please let us know! Thanks!

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Save the Date

save-the-date.jpg

Some people were a bit bothered at the simplicity of our Save the Date.  But oh well 🙂 we just put the necessary stuff on it, mostly so people can just block-off their calendar (esp those abroad).  It’s a wedding.  It’s on a Saturday.  It’s on November 24, 2007.  You’ll get the invite 🙂 Simple lang.

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Discovery Weekend

“Today is the first day of the rest of your lives.”

That was on a piece of red, felt paper that was tacked onto the wall to our left as we listened, absorbed, reflected, discussed, dialogued, and shared our stories this past weekend.  We were in Angels Hills, Tagaytay, for the most important 3 days we have ever shared in our 1yr/7mos together at CEFAM’s DISCOVERY WEEKEND.  For us, it’s still too early to discuss the details of DW, but know that it gave us a sense of affirmation and discovery that we had never felt before. 

If you’re engaged, or planning on getting engaged, or if you’re serious about someone but still have a few (or a lot) of issues to discuss, DISCOVERY WEEKEND is the place to do it.  Take the time to get away from Manila, from your cellphone and e-mail, from your mundane obligations, to focus on your partner and only on your partner and your union for 3 days straight – it’s a gift that each of you will appreciate in ways that will likely multiply itself month after month, year after year, after you exchange your marriage vows. 

For more information on DW, you can contact 426-1271/(0917) 665-6181; e-mail them at info@discoveryweeekend.org; and/or visit their website at http://www.discoveryweekend.org

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Madge Lejano Trial HAMU

I had my trial HAMU (it’s not a sangwich, silly.  It’s hair and make-up) with Madge Lejano and her hairstylist, A (for Aaron) yesterday.  It went well!

Generally, I tend to look like this:

no-make-up.jpg

Big eyes.  Bangs.  Eyebags (yuck).  And a sharp jaw that is really hard to hide in pictures.  A few marks here and there from picking at zits which I am slowly but surely trying to correct with microdermabrasion (sand paper for the face, really), both with a machine and with Origins’ microdermabrasion scrub.

Because I got a bit caught up in talking to Madge and A at the THAMU, I totally forgot to take my ‘before’ shot.  And no, it’s not cos I looked bad; I looked ok (and had a little make-up on because I went to 2 work meetings right before).  It’s cos we started chatting pretty much as soon as I came through her studio doors (which is right across from John Mateos Ong’s studio and right in front of Michi’s bridal salon). 

The process went something like this:

1) Chinkie (our planner) scheduled my appointment with Madge and A;

2) I came in at exactly 1:30PM and Madge was still working on someone’s make-up (she was a bridesmaid for a wedding) so Madge had me look through her slideshow of BEFOREs and AFTERs.  WOW.  That’s all I can say.  Some brides had rosacea/severe acne, some had lots of discoloration, some had eyes that seem quite small, especially when they smiled.  They all looked pretty darn good in the AFTER shots.  She has a few before and after shots in her multiply album.

3) When A started working on the other lady’s hair, Madge started working on my make-up.  I said that I just wanted to look fresh and awake.  Like Lea Salonga did on her wedding day.  And Madge got very excited because she said her idol (Juan Sarte?) did Lea’s make-up and that she totally ‘got it.’

So, while she and I chatted about pretty much everything, from make-up remover (apparently you shouldn’t stress the skin out right before applying make-up, so what she did was just wipe a clean tissue over my face to pat it clean instead of putting a liquid on it); we talked about my jaw (it sounds so proper, with me, to call it ‘panga’ like with tuna panga, cos that’s how big it is); to her recommendation for me not to wear eyelash extensions.  I even told her that I tend to get anxiety-related sickness (nausea, vomitting, the flu, etc.).

Finally, the bangs stayed a bit down here (click on thumbnails to enlarge):

hair-down-1.jpg

hair-down-2.jpg

Now, A couldn’t achieve what I wanted with my updo quite yet because my hair needs to be about 3-4 inches longer for him to coil it into a healthy and shall we say ‘robust’ looking low bun (going for the classy and clean look); so he just did a simple coil for now.

up-hair-1.jpg      up-hair-3.jpg 

So I ended up looking a bit like this (click on thumbs above and below), which is what I wanted.  Enhanced, but still fresh and recognizable under the gook.  It’s still me. 🙂

up-hair-2.jpg

Ugh, my eyebags are kinda gross and clearly my left eye is smaller than my right.  And my jaw… OMG MY JAW!!!  Jay teases that you can sharpen knives with it (wailing, tears, sobbing).  I need to learn how to smile without… er, accentuating it further.  And I hold a lot of tension in my neck/collarbone area! AAAAAAAAAA! 

Madge told me to do the following between now and November:

1) get a bit more of a tan, which I will happily do!  I’m usually a shade or two darker anyway… I clearly haven’t been sunbathing as much as I’d like…

2) grow-out my eyebrows so that they are bushy and so she can tell how they naturally arch, instead of the too far apart and weird state they are in now 😦

3) stay healthy!

So that was that.   I paid for the THAMU (P2,000) and also the downpayment for the day-of package (includes bride + groom [MINIMAL] + 2 heads; P2,000 per extra head) so that I could book her already because I know that she gets booked pretty quickly (not to mention that our wedding day is w/in peak season).

Hair and make-up, check.

 [note: all trial HAMU pics taken by Madge]

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