Out of Cebu

Dumaguete: How the City of Gentle People won me over.

Our trip to Dumaguete last May started as a spur of the moment decision out of the need to renew my passport before it expires this September. We had no itinerary set except for my DFA appointment and our side trip to Tanjay (45mins to 1hr from the city!) to visit my sister’s godmother so we were literally winging it as soon as we left Cebu around 5AM on a Friday. For people who don’t travel much, we were just happy to arrive at our destination in one piece by 10AM.

The city’s laid-back charm is very comforting. Not once did we experience being taken advantage of and it was easy to go from one place to another even with public transport. My only regret was not being able to food crawl as much as we wanted to. (Chorizo bungkag! *sighs*) Squeezing in everything for a day and a half is a talent that I have yet to master.

Two of those we managed to tick off my list were 2 Story Kitchen and Silliman University. The former is a Korean coffee shop-inspired restaurant with a fusion take on its most popular dishes like kimbap and tteokboki to name a few. With its photogenic nooks and cozy booths, it’s easy to see why this place has become a social media favorite.

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TV Love

K-Drama Love: Hwarang

When we decided to switch to sageuks after watching contemporary K-dramas since last year, one of those I had been favorably considering was Hwarang. A fictional adaptation set during the reign of King Jinheung, it tells the story of how an elite group of young men rose among the existing factions of Silla to become the royal family’s fiercest ally. Throw in a love story or two and you’ve got yourself the perfect formula for a compelling K-drama. So why did the ratings reflect otherwise?

For a series that highlighted six young men in its promotional materials, the plot was heavily focused on three people only. Had they fleshed out each guy’s backstory it would have shown how effective the cast were as an ensemble. You also had unresolved plot lines (fainting spells and paternity, to name a few) which the writer failed to address as the series concluded. Simply put, there were a lot of wasted opportunities to polish what was otherwise an entertaining pre-produced K-drama.

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Phone-less… almost.

First off, I just had to post this cake we got for my Mom on Mother’s Day. Red Velvet is ❤! It will always be one of my favorites next to any variant of cheesecake and moist chocolate cake.

While Mercury retrograde ended last May 3, mine is simply off to a late start. This explains my writer’s block, the sort-of chaos in terms of projects endorsed at work (incomplete assets!) and how my phone barely survived water exposure at our company outing. The latter gave me quite a scare because it was a lapse of judgment on my part for bringing a gadget while we were running around the resort during our team-building activity. But my phone is a survivor. After being rejected for warranty by Power Mac, volume and charging port miraculously worked again when I got to the office. Relief was an understatement because it saved me from being phone-less. I couldn’t very well afford the unit replacement cost that the service center suggested, noh!

That said, I’m glad I can cross those off the list of things I’m worrying about these days. All that’s left is winging the Dumaguete trip next weekend for my passport renewal.

TV Love

Remembering the magic of Meteor Garden.

News of the Meteor Garden remake and the show’s 16th anniversary had me thinking how little I know of Taiwanese entertainment these days. Heck, I might not even recognize whoever they’d cast for the 2018 version! The original had nothing but good memories for me. It kick-started my interest in Asian dramas and while there have been bumps along the way, I’ve been introduced to a lot of great stories ever since (mostly K-dramas, however). Torrents and streaming sites have made it easier for viewers to get their drama fix these days but who else remembers fan-subbed copies and DVD9s?

For someone who was barely out of college, the F4-era allowed me to indulge in my fangirl tendencies. While I never splurged on that insanely prized concert ticket, I do admit:

  • Spending a thousand bucks for VCD copies of Season 1 episodes, courtesy of a suki online who burned copies of fan-subbed Asian dramas.
  • Calling the local network to complain of the show’s schedule. We were one day behind in terms of episodes, no thanks to regional programming, so I raised my concern with the network (blindly calling a number on the directory — not even knowing which department it was) and even emailed a showbiz columnist about it. Perhaps a lot of viewers felt the same way because several weeks later, they changed it to a 5:30PM time slot.😂
  • Setting aside a portion of my allowance to buy F4’s Fantasy Forever album. Five hundred bucks was a big deal then so it was quite a sacrifice to part with it all because of a CD.
  • Pulling an all nighter to finish Season 2 episodes. It was a struggle to finish 31 episodes but we persevered and finished half overnight. Still, nothing beats the magic of Season 1.

All for the love of a show that started the Asian drama craze in the country. If there’s a show who can strongly anchor the return of Taiwanese dramas on Philippine TV, perhaps this reboot might be it. Here’s hoping they do right by the original material.👍 No tweaking for the sake of fan service, please!

Flick Pick

Flick Pick: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

It’s hard to top a much-loved classic. With the live-action remake of 1991’s Beauty and the Beast, Disney was wise to play into the nostalgia of its source material. They spared no expense in recreating scenes from the animated film, with a nod to the fairy tale’s French origins, and gave the OST a much-needed boost albeit it wasn’t without any criticisms (filed under: “TELL as old as time”).😂

How is it that Celine Dion does wonders for any song she interprets? Her haunting rendition of “How Does a Moment Last Forever” is easily my favorite track. Together with “Evermore”, both songs are on loop in my playlist these days.

The all-star cast themselves were a delight (Ewan McGregor’s French accent!). Luke Evans was born to play the effortlessly charming and boorish Gaston. Kevin Kline nearly had me bawling so early in the movie before I completely lost it during the ballroom scene. Emma Watson was even surprisingly likable as Belle. The chemistry between her and the Beast wasn’t as palpable as I expected but it played out well onscreen. I do not get the indifference towards Dan Stevens though. I loved how he voiced the Beast and thought he was the right fit for a noble blood from 18th century France. Were they expecting someone hunky who’ll sweep Belle off her feet?

Negative comments aside, fleshing out some of the characters’ backstories gave the movie something that sets it apart from the animated version. It’s a lovely tribute to my childhood years and I couldn’t be happier that Disney stayed true to a movie I knew by heart. We may know how the story ends but it’s the stuff peppered in between that makes it something to look forward to.

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