Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TV Series: Once Upon A Time

Romance, beautiful costumes, swords, capes, bows and arrows, stone huts, chimneys, windmills, forests, horse-driven carriages, castles, faerie dust, etc. I like fairy tales. (One of my friends told me that I'm such a romantic... I told him, "Yeah, hopeless romantic!" LOL.)

But I like "reinvented" fairy tales more. (I'm not sure if "reinvented" is the right word to use but oh well.) You know those that target adults instead of children, those that present a little more serious conflict but are still very romantic. Think The Princess Bride or Stardust.

Once Upon A Time is no exception. My friend introduced the TV series to me last February and I've been watching it since then. So far, there are 19 episodes (out of 22 scheduled for the first season).

The story goes like this: all the fairy tale characters live in one magical world but because of the Evil Queen's curse, everyone is transported to present (modern) time and forgets his/her real identity. Of course, the challenge is how the characters are going to remember their true selves and how they can break the Evil Queen's curse.

What's to love? Aside from an interesting plot and beautiful settings, the show also has A LOT of adorable actors.

Josh Dallas is the Prince Charming you'd expect: blonde hair and blue eyes.
But heh, at least he lives up to his name. He's sooooooo charming!

He was also in Thor! He portrayed one of Thor's friends.

Jamie Dornan (this snapshot does not do justice)

Eion Bailey

He may not look adorable at first but eventually, you'll see it.

Greyston Holt

Jesse Hutch and his adorable smile (and jaw).

Sebastian Stan (He also portrayed Captain America's bestfriend!)

And it's not just the male actors.

Ginnifer Goodwin is Snow White. She's super pretty and she rocks that pixie cut, don't you think?

Except for Snow White and Prince Charming, I didn't mention the names of the characters (just the actors) because one thing about this TV series is that it will always have you thinking "Who's this character? Who's that character? Who's his/her fairy tale counterpart? Who's his/her modern time counterpart?"

Now who doesn't like fairy tales?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

When Inspiration Strikes

This afternoon, I wanted to create a hippie headband for myself so I searched my crafts stash for cords. Instead of cords, I found gold beads (gold-colored faux pearls to be more specific). Crazy as it may seem, I let out a big "gyahahaha!" and immediately took my angel wing earrings, jump rings and pliers to make a...


It's not an original idea (search "Snitch pendant" in Google and you'll find lots of these). I've been meaning to make this since last year but I couldn't find materials and I didn't have time to go searching in Divisoria or Tutuban. 

I looked for a maroon background to make it look "Gryffindor" haha.

I wasn't able to make the hippie headband (I couldn't find cords) but at least I have a new favorite pendant. I think that bigger angel wing charms would be better but I love this product anyway.

You know those moments when things don't go your way but life suddenly offers something equally as nice.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Never Forget

Today, I went to the 2012 Engineering Recognition Rites.

669 candidates for graduation from the College of Engineering

I was planning to ditch because (1) I do not have a dress to wear, (2) I find it difficult to wake up early these days and (3) I was afraid of getting bored during the three to four-hour program.

However, because I confirmed attendance and because I was able to find a white dress with sleeves (fits me very well and was on sale), I decided to go anyway.

It was indeed awkward having to sit at the stage where every student and parent can see what you're doing during the whole program (hence that photo above) BUT it was also very nice to see friends, orgmates and most importantly MY STUDENTS graduating (and some of them with honors too). Unlike what I thought, I didn't actually get bored during the program. And I guess the money for the new dress and the effort for waking up early was worth it.

To the students who will be officially graduating tomorrow, I may not have much experience to be able to say anything but I will say these anyway...

Never forget to uphold HONOR and EXCELLENCE.


Never forget that Filipinos pay taxes just so you can study at THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES. Don't put their taxes to waste. You are an Iskolar ng Bayan. IT IS YOUR DUTY TO SERVE THE COUNTRY.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Brighter and More Colorful Side of Things

I tend to dread summer because of the heat. 34 degrees Celsius. 

However, three reasons why I love summer: break from teaching, beach and FLOWERS. 

The sunflowers will greet you.

Beautiful tree to the right of Vargas Museum, across Quezon Hall

I want to go to the beach. But I'm not going to one until the next few weeks. So these flowers will do for now.

Empty street... summer indeed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Harajuku and then Home

Finally, I will be writing about the last day of my Tokyo 2012 trip.

My flight back to Manila was Sunday at around 6:30pm so I still had time to kill before going home. I met  up with Ali in Tokyo Station where I left my luggage in a coin locker and made a reservation for the Narita Express (the high-speed train from Tokyo to Narita Airport). Initially, we planned to go to Ueno to eat at Sweets Paradise (my second time within that week!) but Ali said there's nothing much to do in Ueno so I suggested Harajuku since there's also a Sweets Paradise branch there. I've been to Harajuku three times that week but I still wanted to go on a Sunday because I wanted to see cosplayers at the Harajuku bridge!

SO MUCH PEOPLE ON A SUNDAY! I was just glad that it wasn't raining anymore. It was raining for a whole week!

Sweets Paradise was full but fortunately, we did not have to line up for a seat.

In our student organization, there exists a buddy system during application period wherein your buddy will guide you through the application process. Ali was a member during the time I was an applicant (2006) and she became my buddy. She left the Philippines in 2008 and has been going around different countries. Since then, she's only gone back to the Philippines twice. And this is the best buddy date we've ever had: IN SWEETS PARADISE, IN JAPAN, NO LESS!

Ali introduced to me a yummy snack called ANMITSU. It's a mixture of mochi, kinako (soybean powder), kuromitsu (dark honey), anko (red bean paste) and some corn flakes.

We went shopping in Momo. Ali bought bandage skirts and I bought a navy blue maxi skirt. On sale, only JPY1000! It's the only piece of clothing I bought in Japan because everything is expensive (as expected).

Ali and I took purikura. We were supposed to do this during my arrival (we also went to Harajuku that day) but I think we both forgot in the end because we were tired. Haha.

one of our purikura shots
We walked to Omotesando and looked around the used kimono shop. Oh kimono and yukata! I really wanted one but my luggage was already full. Next time, I promise!

We went to Harajuku Bridge, right in front of Meiji Shrine. There weren't a lot of cosplayers but I was really happy to see the place. FINALLY!!

I also had a photo taken with this interesting person before going back to the station. Ali says the person is male. :)) 

Finally, we had to leave Harajuku. Inside the train, I couldn't believe I was going to leave Tokyo already. It was an amazing week. It was great to see Ali in Japan and not in the Philippines. I told her that hopefully, next time, we'll see each other in another country. 

And well, because we had too much fun in Harajuku (time passed by too fast), we really had to run so that I could catch my train to Narita Airport! Tokyo Station is a very big station; the Narita Express platform is at the fifth basement (!!) and there's no direct elevator to the platform. I saw another foreigner who seemed to be in a hurry with his Japanese guide (probably from a hotel). They were both very nice and noticed that I was also in a hurry; they took me with them so that I would no longer have difficulty finding the elusive NEX platform.

In the end, we arrived at the NEX platform just in time! Well, it was better to run after a train than to run after a plane! I arrived in Narita Aiport early and was still able to buy a few souvenirs.

And then when I returned to Manila... the airport wasn't the best, it took me the longest time to find my luggage, the immigration line was very long and the heat was unbearable. However, it wasn't until I saw a girl selling sampaguita in the streets at midnight that I told to myself "Well, I guess I am home."

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Day I Went to Edo

One of the very few things I can remember from Asian History class in high school is that Tokyo today was called Edo during the shogunate era.

During my sixth day (second free day) in Tokyo, I went to Asakusa. I was excited because I was about to experience the traditional side of Japan which I only used to see in the internet or in anime. LOL.

Upon exiting the Tokyo Metro Asakusa station, I was amazed by this street which is apparently called Kannon Dori.

Kannon Dori

I was trying my best to take a photo surreptitiously but he still caught me. Haha oh well.

A lot of buildings there look like this. Very traditional, very pretty, right? 

After appreciating Kannon Dori, I decided to find the Kaminarimon. I was sure that it's just around the station but I could not find it so I tried asking a lady who seemed to be waiting for someone, "Kaminarimon wa doko desu ka?" (Where is Kaminarimon?) I couldn't understand anything she said but she was pointing somewhere so I thanked her and then went to the place she was pointing to. And I immediately found this beautiful lantern. Ah, Kaminarimon!

I went through and found myself in Nakamise Dori. Like Kannon Dori, it's a street full of shops, mostly souvenir shops. It was a rainy Saturday and there were lots of people, both locals and tourists. It was difficult to take photos without people blocking my camera haha.

Nakamise Dori

I walked along Nakamise Dori and then entered the Buddhist temple.

It was very beautiful. I was practically in awe, just standing and admiring the details. 

One of my favorite photos. The person below the lantern definitely made the photo. :))

Look at that huge yet unsuspecting cup. You'd think it's merely for decoration but if you look very closely, it actually catches water from the roof. It might be a rainwater harvesting system. Form and function, indeed!

The pagoda!

There was another area, to the side of the main temple, filled with shops. I like the place a lot because it's not as crowded as Nakamise Dori and it really smelled of damp wood. I really felt like I was in Edo (old Tokyo). The shops sell traditional things like lanterns, stationery and dolls. The shop owners even wore kimono and hakama! Cool huh?

An ojisan wearing a hakama and painting lanterns.

I saw an oba-san wearing a kimono and I asked her "Shashin wa ii desu ka?" (Is photo okay?) She said yes and I gestured to take her picture. She probably thought I wanted a photo of her shop so she got flattered when she realized that I wanted a photo of her instead. I told her "Kimono ga suki desu!" (I like kimono). Heh, I flattered an oba-san, I felt so cool. :))

Some archery game. The ojisan managed to hit the target twice! Sugoi desu ne!

I also saw a guy pulling a rickshaw! It was very cold and yet look at what he's wearing!

Returning to Nakamise Dori, I found this sight very interesting. The pagoda and the Tokyo Sky Tree [not very noticeable becaue of the clouds] in one view. Such contrast of modern and traditional Tokyo.

As much as I'd like to go to Tokyo Sky Tree, the second tallest structure in the world (I studied civil engineering for a reason!), the observatory was still closed. But I'm happy just to be able to see it from afar.

On my way back to the train station, I also saw this beautiful building just across Kaminarimon.

Nice cladding!

I was practically in a daze during the whole Asakusa trip because it's something I only used to see in photos. I still couldn't imagine how I got myself into it.

Tokyo Sky Tree. Next time I go to Japan, I'm definitely going up observatory.

After buying omiyage (souvenirs), I went back to my hotel. I didn't stay very long in Asakusa because after taking photos, walking around, eating and shopping, there was not much to do for me. Perhaps the rain caused less activity in the area. Anyway, I'm not complaining. I still love Asakusa!

I arrived at my hotel at around 3pm and warmed up. I was debating with myself whether to go out again or not because it was still early and I'll surely get bored but I was anxious about spending more money. However, my mom messaged me via Facebook and convinced me to go out and to not think about the money anymore (I still had money to spare anyway). The sky also cleared up a little after three or four days of no sunlight. (I suddenly understood why foreigners love the sunshine in the Philippines)! So I went to Harajuku... for the third time!

I went to Takeshita Dori again and then to Omotesando (a street parallel to Takeshita Dori lined with imported and expensive brands like Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, etc.)


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Six Movies to Move Your Heart This Summer

When it comes to movies, I really like watching action. Think SWAT, Ocean's trilogy, Mercury Rising, Taken. However, I also have a soft spot for romance movies, especially Japanese movies.

Because of the workload relief (semester has ended!!), I was able to get precious and elusive free time and I've been trying to look for Japanese romance movies to pass time. It's been a little difficult because I've already seen a number of the popular ones and it's not easy to search for torrents of these Japanese movies. Anyway, if ever you're interested with Japanese romance movies and if you'd like to drown yourself in love stories and tears, here are a few recommended Jdrama movies! Be sure to have a pack of tissue ready when watching these. NO SPOILERS, PROMISE! 

Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu 2004 (translates to "Now I'm Going to Meet You" English title: Be With You)

I watched this movie last summer 2009. I took a non-credited subject Hapon 10 (Elementary Japanese) because I wanted to learn the language, even just a little. Our sensei (teacher) made us watch this movie in class. My classmates and I were crying so hard while watching. No, not the type of crying where tears just fall silently. We were really crying aloud!

Here's the story. Before Mio died, she promised her son and her husband that she will come back to them on the next rainy season. Guess what? She did. Is she a ghost? Hmm...

It's one of those rare love stories that include the whole family. Usually it's just about boyfriend-girlfriend. Anyway, this one is totally worth the tears and the heartache. Must-watch!

Tada, Kimi o Aishiteru 2006 (translates to "Just Loving You", English title: Heavenly Forest)

Two university freshmen meet during the first day of class. The guy is into photography while the girl is cute and childlike (not necessarily childish). Both of them are the solitary type but start hanging out together.

The guy, Makoto, is played by one of my favorite Japanese actors: Tamaki Hiroshi (he played Shinichi Chiaki in Nodame Cantabile, one of my favorite Jdrama series). It has quite a number of surprises that kept me interested. This movie made me cry really hard towards the end.

Koizora 2007 (Sky of Love)

A story of two high school students: an ex-delinquent named Hiro and a girl named Mika. Watch out for a few sexual and violent themes. I have nothing much to say about this movie or else I might be blabbing spoilers. All I can say is that this movie will totally make your heart ache and your eyes swollen. Just look at the strip on the top part of the poster.

Cyborg Girl 2008

College student Jirou always celebrates his birthday eating spaghetti alone. However, during his 20th birthday, he suddenly finds himself celebrating with a mysterious girl who just popped out of nowhere.

To be honest, the story was a little difficult to understand especially towards the end. Not among my favorites in this list but still worth watching if you're bored. It's pretty interesting because of the mysteries but it can get boring as some point. I think this one moved me to tears towards the end.

Tenshi no Koi 2009 (translates to "Angel's Love", English title: My Rainy Days)

17-year old high school girl meets a very serious 35-year old college professor and she falls in love with him at first sight. No, it's not as bad as you imagine. The movie seems very serious and full of drama but there are also a few funny parts in the middle and the characters tend to have cute personalities too. I actually loved this movie SO MUCH! I swear you're going to fall in love and cry a lot. Totally one of my favorites.

Kimi ni Todoke 2010 (From Me to You)

The reason I watched this movie is because I read the manga and love it! Yes, it's based from comics. Sawako is a very shy and kind girl who resembles Sadako (from the horror film). Because of this, people in school are very afraid of her and do not know that she's actually very kind. Meanwhile, Kazehaya is a kind boy (good boy type) who is very popular with girls because of his looks and refreshing attitude. The two meet on the first day of high school under the cherry trees and Kazehaya, unlike their other classmates, starts to see Sawako's kindness.

I love the casting of this movie SO MUCH. Haruma Mirua (also guy who played Hiro in Koizora), with his pretty smile, really captured Kazehaya's refreshing personality. Mikako Tabe also made a really lovely Sawako. I also love how the actors of Ryu, Ayane and Chizuru totally resemble the characters in the manga! It's like they were pulled straight from the comic books.

Story-wise, it's totally innocent, totally lovable and can be funny too. It could make you cry but it's also entertaining to watch! Plus, there's more to it than just a love story. It's also about friendship and a shy girl who comes out of her shell. One word to describe Kimi ni Todoke: LOVELY.

WARNING: Dont' turn these into a movie marathon unless you're okay with getting swollen eyes. Just one of these will definitely make your heart ache... but then maybe it's just me. I'm such a sap when it comes to romance movies. (What I do is I read or watch something comedy or something action after I watch any one these movies just to calm down my heart... yeah, maybe I'm just a sap.)

Also, read carefully when downloading. Some of these movies have TV series or anime counterparts. Enjoy!