Friday, November 5, 2010

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

I'm supposed to be finishing a segment for work, but here I am, trying to delay the stress, facebooking, reading blogs, enjoying the sweetness of doing nothing before plunging into work stuff again.

It's kinda fun.

And now, I'm thinking, if I'm not here right now in my room, if I'm not obliged to work and finish graduate school to have an edge, where would I rather be? What would I rather do?

I imagine myself in a faraway place, in a beach in another country. Not the loud beach type, but a kind of tranquil, isolated one. With a nearby local village market, where everything was foreign, and food was fresh and exotic. I'd go home to a small hut by the beachfront and cook my own meals. I'd be reading books the whole day, then ride a bicycle to my graduate school a few kilometers away, where I also teach. I'd be taking up a cool course, not lucrative, but something that I've always wanted to take-- community development, perhaps women and development. At the same time, I am writing a journal about the status of women in the country and how they have managed to rise beyond being second-class citizens. People think of me as strange, but nevertheless liked me for my warmth and compassion.

On weekends, I'd be dipping my feet on the sand while reading literature-- a Murakami or Gaiman book perhaps. Or probbably, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar or one of Isabel Allende's magic realist books.

A dark guy will approach me and hand over a letter. It will be from my Mom, wanting to know if I'm coming home for Christmas.

Oops, time's up! I'm back in my room and I'm in front of my Mac Book. Back to work. Back to my real life, which is not so bad after all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Behind the Byline of Preview's Society Editor

Friends! Don't miss the latest episode of Behind the Bylines featuring the number one fashion magazine Preview's Society Editor Raymond Gutierrez.

Yep, Raymond or "Mond" to his close friends has been the Society Editor of Preview for more than a year. A member of an elite showbiz family, Raymond is surprisingly humble, funny, down-to-earth and most of all, real.

"It makes me grounded because as I have said, it's an environment I'm not used to. I have a boss. I have an office. It's a different ball game, I have a deadline I have to rush, I have to do it now. I have no other choice. It's new and fresh and kinda makes me feel alive, cause I've been used to the whole showbiz world my whole life...."

We know Raymond as a TV host in GMA 7, formerly in Pinoy Idol and currently, in Party Pilipinas and Showbiz Central. Most of the time, he does the interviewing, but tables are turned when Behind the Bylines gets up close and personal.

See Raymond as he juggles a tight schedule shooting a society page with Maggie Wilson and hurries to go to the airport for an event coverage in Cebu. And...uh-oh, what happens when it's drizzling in an outdoor shoot? Will the picture still be fab?

Find out on November 2, Tuesday at 9 pm. Only on Star World.

***Picture courtesy of Raymond Gutierrez.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kathrina Tiu dy appears to be offline.

Kathrina Tiu Dy appears to be offline. In yahoo messenger, that is.

It's been almost 10 months since my bestfriend Kat Tiudy passed away.

I dread the day January 10th of next year comes, cause that will be the first year anniversary of her death.

Sometimes I forget she's gone. Like one good thing happens, and I immediately think, "hey I'm going to text Tiudy" or recently, when our house was newly renovated, she was the first one I thought of, who I'd love to invite. I said, "Wait 'til Tiuds sees this" then I remember. And all the memories of her death flood back.

Her facebook page is still online, with a lot of her friends and relatives posting and saying hi, tagging photos of her. I open my facebook account and there on the right side, it says "Say hi to Kathrina". I like that her facebook page is still there, it's soothing to think she's still here with us in space, even if it means cyber space. I love to see her smile on her profile picture, because I like imagining her happy in heaven and I know she is. I haven't erased her on yahoo, and her name's still on my phone book. It's not that I'm not yet over her death. I just like holding on to her face, her laugh, her jokes, her life. I don't like my Tiuds to be forgotten...ever.

For the past months, her facebook page is where we all meet -- our batchmates and her different circles of friends and we find comfort in her and in each other.

Here are some of interesting posts on her wall:

Nina Kristine Ona Dello hi tiudy.. i dreamt of you last night... please guide and pray for us. love you!! =)

Pau Perez mama kat =) malapit na christmas namimiss na nila tinitinda mong bags =) mwah love u

Dyan Cruz katchu... guide me naman o...

Kb Contreras i miss u tiuds.... I need you ngaun... Paki sbe nmn sa bossing natn jan sa taas... Alalay sakin ng konti... Thanks tiuds...

Miguel Vargas Ate Kat alam mo naman malaki natulong mo sakin, maraming salamat.. Naka Close rin ako isa ulit wit Ate April.. I hope ur doin great dyaan sa Heaven=)

Ems Gonzales ei tiudy! nakita kita sa "keep in touch" ko. musta ka naman dyan, ganda? balitaan mo ko ha. mwah!;p

Corinne Javier tiubby....akala ko ok na ko. pero kanina, nung nadaanan namin yung harbour square, soooobrang nalungkot ako at pinigil kong maiyak, tinext ko nga agad si karl. dun tayo huling nag gimik na lahat. i soooooo miss you :(

Great posts right? Tiudy is our angel in heaven and a lot of times when I pray to God, I talk to her afterwards. I've started a Dear Tiudy diary, where I tell her everything, my deepest fears, my high moments, and just make small talk. I'd like to imagine she's just listening, laughing her heart out, probably saying "Para kang tanga Alina."

Recently, I prayed and I told her 'Tiuds, miss na kita, paramdam ka naman." And she did, that same night. Again, nagpakita siya sa dreams ko. In the dream, we were wearing our St. Paul uniforms and we were shopping in a huge grocery (we always are shopping in our dreams, the last time we were in a huge accessories department store). I was talking to her and we were catching up. I don't remember exactly what we were talking about but in the dream, she told me I was the only one who could see her. So the other shoppers and grocery staff were looking at me weirdly. We bought a lot of things, mostly junkfood -- potato chips and for some reason, cereals!? I don't know why!

Today, I opened my yahoo messenger and I saw her name on my friends' list.

I sent her a message: "Miss na kita sobra."

It said:
Kathrina Tiudy appears to be offline.
He or she will receive your messages after signing in.

But of course yahoo's wrong. She doesn't have to sign in to know.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


My sister and I are as different as chalk and cheese.

She's boyish and sporty, I'm kind of allergic to sports and girly.

She's a Food Technology degree holder and a resident doctor, while I'm a Film graduate taking up my masteral in communication.

One of her hobbies is teasing me about my clothes and bags and I often pester her to start wearing a dress or at least to put her legs to good use since she's long-legged.

I'm bookish, while she's not the academic type.

She's tall and morena, I'm short and fair-skinned.

I realize now we have absolutely nothing in common. But despite all these, it amazes that we are still very close.

I remember I cried when she was about to move to an apartment in QC for her studies. I missed her so much that time. I got used to talking to her every night, just pouring my heart out and updating her on tsismis and the latest about my friends.

Some people don't know that my sister has a high IQ, higher than most people. She rarely studies because she kind of absorbs everything during lectures. She graduated at the top of her class in FEU Medicine. That she's a loving daughter and sister. That when we were kids, she had always protected me. Always the big sister who looks out for her li'l sis.

I'm very proud of my Ate Mayette.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Ultimate Crush: Paolo Soler

Pre-Ondoy, I used to have this small magazine picture of Paolo Soler pasted on my cabinet. He is my ultimate Filipino celebrity crush.

I think I started fantasizing about him since his Coca-cola commercial way back in....shit, I don't remember when. I must have been in grade school. Hehe! (I wish there's a Youtube copy of this commercial, wala eh.)

He had shorter hair then. But now it's long and curly...I like! He's such a hunk, this Paolo guy. I heard he's the president of a surfing academy now, which means he has a great tan and a hot body (a long sigh...)

I've been around in showbiz circles for the past years because of my job, but sadly, I haven't met him personally yet. Kelan kaya? Friends, if you know him, introduce me please!

I'm not really into sports but for this guy, really, I'd risk drowning in the deep blue sea...:-)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Have That Sassy Solitary Style

(published in, QTV Channel 11's online community; click on this link to read article in the site)

You’re never lonely when you can have fun alone.

By Maria Alina R. Co

Bridget Jones’ Diary and the all too unforgettable scene when Bridget spends the night home and sings “All by Myself"? That scene was hilarious, right?

But given a different context (she was, after all, depressed), is it really that unpleasant to be “all by yourself?"

Why are some people agitated when they’re alone?

Alone is not the same as being lonely.

American author Henry David Thoreau said everything pretty much in a nutshell: “I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."

Based from experience, spending alone time is actually healthy and beneficial.

Sounds cliche, but it’s the perfect time for you to get to know yourself better. Whenever I have to make that crucial decision, instead of drinking with friends, why not find some “me" time to think, reflect, refresh and rejuvenate? Especially for us female urbanites, city stress can wear us down. Spending “alone" time doesn’t have to be as expensive as globe-trotting, ala-
Eat, Pray, Love.

Travel alone to a new place
Have you watched
Under the Tuscan Sun? Try reading Ann Tyler’s novel Back When We Were Grownups. Both women traveled to a foreign place to find themselves. So why don’t you head of town, with that small backpack and a favorite book or two? Being a stranger in a foreign land can help you get to know yourself better.

Soul-search in a hotel
If you’re not up and ready to go out of town, book a hotel room, and bring your laptop or notebook. It’s time to relish a spic and span room and pamper your self with hotel amenities. Pick a unit that has a veranda overlooking the city. Believe me, the view works wonders. Then face your laptop or poise your pen on that blank paper and write away. You’ll be surprised at the thoughts that pour out when you’re just alone.

Feel spectacular after a soup and spa
After a grueling day at work, just let loose. A full body massage at Wensha Spa only costs P680.00, inclusive of food and drinks. Their specialty is the shabu-shabu. I don’t know about you, but a cup of steaming soup instantly takes away the blues-all the time.

Try a new hobby/sport
Sometimes routine work and school can get you down. I have a lot of friends who have great jobs but suddenly find themselves burned out. But I’ve also learned that pursuing a new hobby can save your job. A friend from a multinational bank was already bent on resigning, when she found passion for running. Exercise took away the boredom of an 8-5 desk job. I myself was at the brink of resigning from a TV Network as a supervisor (without a new job replacement) when I joined a voice-acting/dubbing workshop. I met new friends and I found new joy in my otherwise ho-hum job.

There are a lot of hobbies you can pursue like blogging, photography, video editing, cooking, etc.

So despite your hectic schedule, try to find some “alone time". It’s fun and refreshing to be alone, every now and then. And you bounce back better than ever to interact and face other people and life, basically.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Walk in the Neighborhood

It's been some time since I've walked around the neighborhood and had the time and presence of mind to absorb and breathe things in.

Of course, day in and day out in an 8- 5 job, I'd walk a good 10 minute-sprint from our house to the jeep/FX terminal. But because I am always, ALWAYS, running late, I barely have time to look around and observe.

For fear of exposing where I exactly live, let's just say I live in lower grounds of Pasig, in a middle class neighborhood. Unlike private subdivisions, there are no guards that check the stream of vehicles and residents coming in. Any person is as free as a stray dog or a mother hen to stroll the streets for a leisurely walk or any other purpose.

Today, my mom and I walk towards a nearby mall for just a bit of exercise and maybe, some shopping on the side. Along the way, I keep warning my mom of the dog poo on the street, as that definitely would have ruined our chances of being allowed into the mall.

Our village's center is called a "kanto", a commercial place with a palengke, fruit stands, school supplies shop, parlors, a cloth alteration shop, some convenient stores, a bakery, an internet shop, lots of e-load stations, fish ball stands, a mobile mami tayo, selling hot noodle soup for just ten bucks -- everything a modern-day living Filipino needs to thrive and survive.

Our kanto is the perfect epitome of the backward way a Filipino lives. Cars and vehicles double-parked on all sides, sidewalks supposedly for passersby on foot like us occupied and blocked by vendors of DVDs, fish, sandals and other assortment of odds and ends. A nearby tricycle terminal with overworked (and some over-drugged) drivers causes me to be cautious and nervous, not for me but for my mom. You can be too careful, but when you're not on a side walk, a tricycle, a motor or a car can just zoom by and hurt you.

I hold my mom's hands firmly, guiding her carefully through the zig and zag of our market. For her, it's a jungle, an obstacle course with the bumps on the road, the man hole, the cracks on the floor where there is dark murky water, the smelly dirty side walks moistened by the friendly neighborhood butcher who throws a pail of reddish bloody water again and again.

Our kanto is a melting pot of Filipino masa -- the pineapple vendor rumored to be a former ex-con, three gay parloristas, with blond hair streaked with white, betraying their age, hungrily watching out for the neigborhood hunks, who are also hoodlums just fresh from a basketball game, the resident loony called Jimbo, who was a former drug addict, infamously rumored to have drugged himself to insanity. Everyone has had a chance encounter with Jimbo with his incessant, "Miss, miss, pengeng piso." And of course, the sad mothers with their swollen bellies and their little tykes wrapped around their arms and even their legs, bawling for attention and some twenty pesos to buy some tsitsiria and a bottle of coca cola.

We turn at the corner-- my mother and I-- and buy some sweet lanzones and bananas. The policeman winks at me and offers to hold the bags I was carrying so that my hand can be free to pick soft lanzones among the pile. The vendor narrates an amusing anecdote about these two elderly women who asks for two lanzones to check if they're sweet... "Sabi nung ale, isa pa nga kumuha pa ng dalawa, tapos dalawa pa 'di tig-apat na sila. Hindi pa rin nakuntento, kumuha pa ng tigalawa." The policeman exposes a toothy grin. "Naknamputa, bumili nga, one-fourth lang ang binili, sabi ko naisahan ako nitong dalawang to ha!" At this point, the policeman chuckles loudly. I smile back at them to show I was also amused.

As we step inside the mall, an air-conditioned, brightly-lit market, filled with stores, boutiques, tiangges, food booths and restaurants, I feel a mixture of relief and sadness. I don't understand why, but for some reason, looking at all that circus of a mall, with the neon signs, 50% discounts, arcades, a girl belting out a Sarah Geronimo in a videoke booth, french fries, long lines in the Lotto stand, and the song and dance show at the recreational stage area, I suddenly feel confused. It seems fake, even artificial, and the raw albeit dangerous kanto seemed more real and genuine to me.

My mom buys a cork board and a discounted paperback novel. I nudge her arm, "Ma, tara lakad tayo ulit sa labas."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More than 5 years, But Still Head over Heels

I remember my Photography professor shared an amusing and a bit mushy anecdote about how he realized, "This is it, I'm not only in love, but I deeply, wholly love this girl..she's the one." For my professor, it was all thanks to onions.

He was chopping onions to cook dinner for his girlfriend, admitting he was trying to impress this girl even though he had never cooked all his life. While chopping religiously, his eyes began to water. It didn't take long for his vision to blur as one tear followed after another. My professor began to sniff. While rubbing his eyes, his girlfriend gently removed his hand and dabbed a handkerchief to wipe his tears. The girl whispered, giggling, "Tahan na." It was then, at that moment, he knew this girl was the one he'd love for the rest of his life.

I never forgot that story. More than amused, I was touched. When you realize you are truly in love, it's always not in a grandiose, obvious way. No candle-lit dinners and parading under the stars. No dancing on a rooftop and a room full of roses. Or an orchestra playing your favorite song while you dine in fancy restaurant. I've always believed in those kinds of moments -- small ones that are unexpected, understated and yet, magical. Trust me, I'm not a hopeless romantic, but a realistic, keep-my-feet-on-the-ground kind of girl.

For me, it happened one night in 2009 during the U.P. Fair. Every year, my boyfriend and I made it a point to attend the fair, even just for one day. That week, I was suffering a recurring back ache due to so much stress at work. But to hell with my back ache, nothing could stop me from going! There's the sunken garden grass to lie on anyway. But two bands into the fair, my back ached so much I could even feel the throb when I'm lying down or leaning on Sam's back. Sam wanted to go to the hospital, but I insisted just a bed rest will do.

That night, I slept over at his house that was near UP. My back ache was far from leaving me alone. It was too painful I had to stifle my cries -- "Hindi ko to kaya." Sam lied down beside me and massaged my back, using cantor oil to relieve the pain. His mouth on my ear, he shushed me, whispering over and over, "I'm just here, baby." He massaged and soothed me for hours until finally, the pain was gone and I fell asleep.

I was blinded and numbed by so much pain that night. But there was that short moment, a fraction of a minute, that I saw myself with him for the rest of my life.

Earlier today, Sam and I went to the mall to watch a movie, shop, and eat. I'm not as conscious as before of how I acted when I'm with him. But mostly, I remember feeling happy. And the details I often forget. Today, Sam said something amusing:

Sam: "Bakit ganito tayo no?"
Alina: "Paanong ganito? Pano ba tayo?"
Sam: "Wala, ang sweet pa rin natin, para tayong bagong magsyota."

I don't know for others who are in a five-year relationship, but Sam actually has a point. A good, happy point. Again, at that moment, I felt the hair at the nape of my neck tingle, and my chest filled with....I don't know, something like air, with a hundred butterfly wings flapping.

It's amazing how we've been together for more than five years, but we're still head over heels.

To the love of my life Sam (you might never read this as you never read my blog (I know how much you dislike blogs), but I just want to put on record...that I love you so much. Never doubt that.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Watch Behind the Bylines on Star World

Know what goes on behind the scenes in the number one fashion magazine in the Philippines! A reality show, BTBL features a day in a life of a Preview magazine editor to give you a taste of what working on the monthly gloss is really like.

Behind the Bylines Opening Credits/OBB (this will be revised soon to include Daryl Chang, Liz Uy and Raymond Gutierrez)

Behind the Bylines is the first ever local show based in the Philippines, produced by Fox International. Catch Behind the Bylines only on Star World, Tuesdays, at 8: 50 PM, every 2nd and 4th week of the month.

Don't miss the quirky episodes airing this October featuring Manila's finest stylista Daryl Chang!

Behind the Bylines Credits:

Head of Programming:

Channel Head (Star World):
Eddy Tan

Territory Director:

Marketing Manager for Entertainment:


Director of Photography:


Post- Production Editor:



Editor-in Chief:

Creative Director:

Editorial Assistant, Special Projects:

Deputy Art Director, Special Projects:

Sunday, September 5, 2010


When I started imitating commercials (especially taglines) when I was seven or maybe eight years old, my mom eagerly predicted: my daughter's going to be a news reporter or broadcaster some day.

But then, several years of acting in plays and joining declamations later, I found that speaking in public made me nervous! Never mind the plays, I was never a nervous performer (I had the knack of blocking the audience out when I performed. I also had a band in college), but addressing an audience was altogether a different thing,

So yeah, several years later, my mom found that her oracle was not the best one.

Instead of taking up Broadcasting, I got lost into and fell in love with Film and Audio-Visual Production, which is more of behind-the-scenes.

After graduation and years of working, I never knew my hobby as a child of faking accents and repeating commercial taglines would resurface. Until I found I can do voice-overs.

I guess I owe it to making plugs and observing professional VO talents during my first job. I liked imitating them for fun. Eventually, when our talent could not make it, while I did have to beat a deadline, I had no choice but to do a dummy. Kind of like a voice guide.

Until a client (a sponsor) asked our team to do a TVC. But they can't afford to pay for a VO talent. The client was a well-known motel. My co-Producer asked our superior if my voice will do. He said, well, let's see.

Fortunately, my voice-over passed. Credit it to a "bedroom voice". Hehe!

I eventually forgot about that. But my interest came back when an office mate told me of a VOICE ACTING WORKSHOP, called VoiceWorx in Creativoices Productions.

I enrolled. Though the tuition caused me almost all of my savings, I can say that it was all worth it.

I have since earned back the tuition...and more.

Today, I have gained the confidence that I need to be a good voice over for commercials. I enjoy doing voice overs so much! I feel challenged by every word, pause, every intonation, breath and every syllable.

When I voice, I'm just playing. I like expressing myself through my voice and hearing it on TV or the radio.

Without my hobby as a child, encouragement from former officemates and Creativoices, I wouldn't have done it.

But it can never be my full-time job. Voice over always has to be a part-time job, that I learned in VoiceWorx.

And yes, I guess it helps a lot that whenever I voice, I get to be an eight-year old all over again.

Maria Alina Co is currently a voice-over talent of Knowledge Channel and Star World Philippines. She also does freelance voice work for other companies.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Invisible Sisters of Manila

Word polaroids by Maria Alina Co

Blue, pink, yellow, and green splashed my eyes. The monobloc table-turned merchandising display setup at the Lopez Memorial Museum was abloom with crocheted bags and wallets of various colors and designs. Body bags were at the left side, some with striped patterns, embellished with a flower accessory or two. Two women were rearranging stacks of pouches of all shapes and sizes. A black, shiny wrist bag caught my eye. Despite the great diversity of color and style, the bags had two things in common. One, they all carried the brand “Invisible Sisters,” and two, they were all made from recovered and recycled trash.

Yes, trash, or garbage if you prefer.

Visitors and customers like me would always do a double-take after being told the exquisite bags were made of discarded palengke plastic bags. A meticulous middle-aged female customer fiddled with the crocheted bags. “You mean this is not string or yarn?” she asked incredulously.

“Opo, Ma’am, plastic po ‘yan,” Ate Rica, the leader of the group, promptly answered.

The Invisible Sisters

The plastic bags are collected and made into bags by a group of urban poor women – all mothers and grandmothers – called the Invisible Sisters.

“May nakapagsabi sa’kin, yung kumare ko, na may ganitong grupo. Marunong naman ako mag-crochet dati pa eh. Sumali ako doon sa workshop ni Ma’am Rica,” Josie Tolentino, 51 years old, said as she recalled how she became an Invisible Sister.

The Invisible Sisters is the brainchild of American environmental artist Ann Wizer.

"I began in my house in Manila in late August 2008. I wanted to create a second livelihood project that also reuses waste, while creating jobs in the process. Learning from lessons of my Jakarta XSProject, I wanted something simple and easy to replicate.”

Wizer’s recycling project in Jakarta was hugely successful. Trash-pickers from slums shredded foil packs from junk food packages. The strips of trash were used to plump up and embellish functional furniture such as sala sets and executive chairs. The project yielded income for the poor women and at the same time, reused and recycled tons of trash polluting the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia. The installation entitled High Chair currently on exhibit at the Lopez Memorial Museum is one such product of the trash-pickers, Ann Wizer, and the furniture-makers that Wizer hired.

In the Philippines, Wizer decided crocheting would be a more viable idea.

“I asked the Filipinos I knew if any one knew how to crochet. All I got were blank stares, but it didn't matter: we started in my garage with a pile of colored wires from computers, used dry cleaner bags, and the supply of old plastic bags."

With the help of her cook Rica Galgao, who eventually became the project coordinator, Wizer was able to jumpstart the project.

Nagtanong-tanong kami ni Ma’am Ann sa mga foundation ng mga kababaihan dito sa Maynila. Nagsimula kami sa isa, hanggang sa dumami na nang dumami,” Rica recalled their start-up days.

Galgao was the first to learn how to crochet plastic bags. She invited and trained women, while Wizer helped in the designs and marketed the bags locally and abroad.

Today, the Invisible Sisters has over 200 mothers and grandmothers crocheting for income. Between them, they have over 500 children and an even more staggering number of grandchildren, most of whom have no regular income.

Empowering women

Fifty-one-year-old Josie Tolentino or Aling Josie was a Management graduate but got married at a young age. She never worked all her life, being a full-time housewife to her husband and four children, the youngest being only nine years old. She relied on her husband’s income until she became an Invisible Sister.

“Malaking tulong na din po sa amin. Lalo na kapag istambay lang kami sa bahay. Pagkatapos kong magluto at maglinis, wala na akong ginagawa. Kaya malaking bagay talaga.”

Aling Josie is one of the fastest and most skilled bag-makers in her group. On the average... ( to read the rest of the article, kindly click on this link)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Yet again, I meet a cross road.

I don't want to actually call it a dilemma. The word sounds negative to me. I guess it's one of those times I need to think, re-think and make a sound and intelligent decision.

I'm one of those lucky ones who have a parents and a kind-hearted brother who fully support me. Those times when I was in despair and sorrow in a previous job (and tried my best to endure and keep silent, afraid to disappoint my family should I ever decide to quit), my brother literally rescued me.

We were in a plane on our way home from Boracay, when Kuya Ariel talked to me. He said he noticed how unhappy I was. And that if I resign, it was okay for him. He knew I was planning to take Post-Graduate studies ever since I started working (unfortunately, my load at work made studying impossible) so he gave me an offer I could not refuse: he will fund my Masteral studies. I knew my brother just wanted me to be happy and alive again. I thought about it and finally decided to give it a go.

But then, Ondoy destroyed our home.

The sight of our tattered house, our appliances and furniture soaked to the brim, mud water trickling from our ceiling were enough to turn my head three-hundred-sixty degrees. Those two days when our home was submerged in mud water, we wept-- my sister, my mother, my brothers and I. We couldn't believe it happened to us.

So I deferred my studies and without informing my family, I scouted for work. I was lucky I got two job interviews the week after Ondoy and both companies hired me. But I chose, of course, the one which was closer to home, located in Ortigas.

For this, I have no regrets. Even though my brother was disappointed. On my fulfillment with work, I would have to devote another blog entry. :-)

June is fast approaching and I find myself in another crossroad. My brother hoped my KCh. stint was just a summer-long deal. He brought it up again:" study full time first, you're not getting any younger."

It's a privilege that I have. As my Mommy said, any girl, any person, would grab the opportunity to study full-time, with a full allowance.

But right then, I paused. I thought it over, toyed with the idea.

I remembered my Mom. How she worked full time in radio parts factory just to finance her education, studying journalism in UST. How she nodded her head during classes, exhausted from overtime work. How she scrimped on her allowance so she can take more units in school. How she worked for 35 years in a simple office in a state university, because she was aware she needed stability to raise us -- a brood of 6.

My mom-- she has sacrificed so much in her life, just so me and my brothers and sister could live a good life. Without her, I would not have the privilege that I have now.

But would I be a brat and take it? Or would I rather be like my mother, who, forty plus years ago, rode jeepneys and broke a sweat, read piles of books and hand outs at past 12 m.n. and woke up at 6 a.m.?

I wish I can explain this to Kuya Ariel, who would surely scratch his head in confusion.

I wish there was a way to tell him what kind of woman I want to be, and am becoming.

I miss blogging!

Ever since we moved out of our old house and since I've temporarily bid our wi-fi connection goodbye, it hasn't been the same between BLOGGING and me.

I guess we're undergoing a sort of cool-off. Yes, just like high school sweet hearts. So, yeah, until our house is fully renovated, I would have to make do with our mediocre Sun Cellular broadband connection. That means waiting forever to open my email, reading the newspaper or cleaning my nails while waiting for Facebook pictures and comments to load. And of course, lying low with my internet bestfriend --

There are so many things I've been raring to write about. I've been meaning to write about Tiu Dy, my work in the Knowledge Channel, the perks of meeting people in Masteral class, my niece Andeng and her smart, naughty ways (and oh-- how she can talk now! At less than 3 years, she can speak in complete sentences already!), about Eve Ensler's books, Sonya's Garden in Tagaytay. Bancheta in Ortigas, etcetera, etcetera.

So, baby, blogger, soon....I shall write....very, very soon!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sweet-toothed summer: iskrambol, ice candy & other thirst busters

So you placed two electric fans side by side, turned them full blast, and yet you still felt beads of sweat trickling down your face and neck. You tried to catch siesta to sleep the afternoon away, but all you succeeded at was to take cat naps as you are wakened again and again by a – gasp! – thirst that couldn’t be quenched. You end up with a headache as unrelenting as the furious sun.

You remembered the PAGASA public advisory to stock up on sun block and lots of water to get ready for the summer heat that has just registered its highest, at 36 degrees Celsius (as of April 6). But after drinking a pitcherful, water had become so blah and bland and boring you could just barf.

So you quit trying to sleep and get up to get out and go for something more exciting in summer "samalamig."

Just the thought alone of the glasses of summer coolers awaiting you just outside your home made your head a bit clearer and your soul less oppressed.

This is exactly what I did last weekend – dabbed sun block, grabbed an umbrella and rounded up the best palamig in town.

Halo-halo ni Nanay

Think summer cooler and you cannot but think of halo-halo. You and I have our own favorite halo-halo. It seems to be a toss-up between Chow King and Digman's. But there are those who would swear by Aling Taleng's halo-halo in Pagsanjan, Laguna that Metro Manilans make dayo for, because it had halo hard to find: buwa ng niyog and crisp dried kondol. Priceless!

But why go the distance and shell out more pesos when just a block away, rght in your neighborhood, there’s a halo-halo stand?

On Ilang-ilang Street, in our barangay in Pasig, Nanay Rosa yearly opens her halo-halo store soon as the schools are out. She offers a very good deal. Bring your own container, no matter what size, and she’ll fill it up. But since I forgot to bring my tall Selecta pint container, which I recycled as a glass at home, I had to make do with an ordinary plastic cup. Nanay Rosa spooned sago, gulaman, sweetened banana, langka, pinipig and melon strips into it, while her son quickly shaved ice. For just fifteen pesos, my halo-halo even had ube and leche flan. Sure, there was more ice than "halo," I guess it's par for the course with neighborhood halo-halo.

But the halo-halo to beat is our own home-made mix-mix. Time was my Mom would stock up on bottled macapuno, sweet beans, kaong, nata de coco, and halayang ube. We could ask her to put a bit more of our favorite halo into our glass. She would often oblige on condition that we shaved our own ice. The nice thing about our halo-halo was that we could put as much milk into it as we wanted. The best thing about it, we could ask for a second glass (not always granted, though). The weird thing about it: my mom would sometimes put fresh fruits into it, like cayomito, ripe mango, guyabano, and avocado. Eww!


At Goto King in Libis, I ordered a glass of guinomis. I guess I spoke too loudly, for the elderly woman behind me at the counter asked her son, "What’s guinomis?" and the son answered, "Hindi ko po alam."

Guinomis is in a sense a simpler version of halo-halo, still with the shaved ice on top, but with specific and fewer ingredients: sago (the tiny pearls), gulaman, and toasted pinipig. The caramelized sugar, sago and gulaman are cooked with pandan leaves. But what makes guinomis especially tasty is the gata (coconut cream) that takes the place of evaporada in halo-halo.

The first time I tasted guinomis was in my freshman year in UP Diliman. At CASAA, a stall whose specialty was sizzlers sold guinomis as well. It was so good I went back again and again. Nowadays, when I eat out, I always look for guinomis on the dessert menu.

The mother and son behind me, out of curiosity, ended up buying guinomis as well. I hope they were not as disappointed as I was: Goto King’s version had cornflakes instead of pinipig on top. And worst – that was no coconut milk they used as cream!

to read more of this article..log on to this site Philippine Online Chronicles- Buhay Pinoy

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ang Paglalaho ng Kayumangging Kaligatan

Kayumangging kaligatan. 'Yan ang kulay ng mayumi at magandang dalagang Pilipina. Hindi maputi, hindi maitim. Morena. Kayumanggi si Maria Clara na minahal ni Crisostomo Ibarra at pinagnasaan ng Kastilaloy na si Padre Salvi (Noli Me Tangere).

Para sa mga banyagang puti, nakahahalina ang kayumangging Pilipina. Patok na patok ang morenang Pinay at hinahabol at pinipilahan pag dumayo sila sa Amerika at Europa. Kaya nga siguro ang mga Amerikana ay medyo kwidaw kung bibisita ang mga esposo o nobyo nila sa 'Pinas. Sila naman ang nagpupumilit na maging kayumanggi. Nagbibilad sila sa araw. Kung hindi sila makapunta sa tabing-dagat upang magpakasunog ng balat, ginagawa nila ito sa loob ng bahay. Mayroon silang tinatawag na tanning lamp at tanning lotion.

Kung bakit ang binatang Pinoy, ang hinahangaan at sinusuyo ay 'yung mga maputi ang balat. 'Tisay ang syota ko,' buong pagmamalaki nilang isisigaw upang marinig ng buong kapuluan. Marahil, nais din nilang maging maputi and kanilang magiging anak. O tingin nila ay puputi din sila sa pamamagitan ng prosesong osmosis.

Walang duda, impluwensya ito ng westernization. The Americanization of the Pinoy, wika nga. Salamat sa Hollywood, sinamba natin si Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Natalie Wood. Nagpatuloy ang ganitong idolatry sa henerasyon nila Drew Barrymore, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Scarlet Johanssen, at marami pang iba.

Dahil dito, ang naging batayan ng kagandahan ay ang nakakasilaw na balat, matarik na ilong, at bughaw o lavender o paiba-ibang kulay na mga mata. Chameleon eyes ang tawag dito. Dati-rati, hanggang buntong-hininga na lang at wishful thinking ang mga Pinay. Ngunit hindi na ngayon. Lahat 'yan magagawan ng paraan ng isang babaeng desididong magmukhang tisay at may pambili ng kaputian. May nose job dyan, blue contact lenses doon, at higit sa lahat mga skin whitening products na naglipana doon, dito, at kung saan-saan.

Napansin ninyo ba? Wala nang kayumanggi ngayon sa atin. O nababawasan na. Malapit na bang maglaho ang ganitong kulay ng balat sa ating bansa?

Mabiling-mabili ang papaya whitening soap. Hindi mo mabilang ang mga brand. Likas Papaya, Silka, Extract, Mestiza. Oo, mestiza! Maraming kompanya ang naglabas ng kanilang whitening line -- Eskinol, Godiva, Block and White, Olay, Ponds, Belo at Gluta. Hindi lang sabon -- may losyon din at krema. Mayroon pa daw skin whitening placenta -- kaya daw pumuti ang balat ng dating morenang beauty queen na si Melanie Marquez.

(to read more of my article, click on this link)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Published in Vaginal Care 101

Women openly exchange notes about personal grooming habits. They trade facial regimens, hair-care treatments and other secrets. But there’s one thing that’s not out in the open.

By Alina Co

Vaginal care, in blunt terms. Feminine hygiene to those fond of euphemisms. Though they still talk about it in whispers, Filipinas today are more aware of its increasing importance. According to Dr. Michelle Isip, OB-Gynecologist at St. Lukes Medical Center, good feminine hygiene prevents infections. Not only can discomfort result from less than standard feminine hygiene, sickness may occur as well. So more than feeling fresh and clean, do you think you’re healthy down there? Read on if you have doubts.
(photo by David Bernabe, model: Barbarra Lee)

Washing properly
The market offers several products that claim to get rid of germs, such as douches, feminine wipes, and feminine sprays. There are also anti-bacterial soaps that claim to do the trick. According to Dr. Isip, “It is still best to use a pH-balanced feminine wash so as not to alter one’s normal vaginal flora." Wash twice daily, when you shower in the morning and before you go to sleep, she urges."

(to read the rest of the article, log on to

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Free Jaq! Free the 43!

Just got tagged in Facebook. My friend from college Jaq is unjustly detained in AFP. Please spread the word.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

27 UP is on February 23!

27 UP is up! On February 23, join us as we celebrate Kathrina Tiu Dy's life in 6Underground, at 8 pm. Had she lived, Kat would have celebrated her 27th birthday here with us last February 2.

Tickets are priced at P500, as this is to raise money to pay for the whopping medical bills, still unpaid in the hospital. (The ticket entitles you to a free drink.)

So invite your friends for a night of bands and booze on February 23. Have a rockin' night and help at the same time!

27 UP Organizers would like to thank the following bands for agreeing to perform for free:Mayonnaise (Monty, thank you so much! Zarina, you're da best!), Ang Bandang Shirley, Cunejo(special mention: Pablo and Julius), Landas (thank you mareng Toni for bearing with our "kulit" and texts), Domini & Carissa, our talented batch mates in St. Paul (salamat Louise...sayang walang keyboard doon), and Nyctinasty (Kissa, Sheila's friend).

Also, thank you to Ancha, our Batch Head for her unwavering support. And all our batchmates (SPCP '01) for being there for us. Overwhelming ang support niyong lahat! To all the Paulinians who have never forgotten Tiu Dy, Vangie V., our busmates, Tiudy's friends in Assumption (Dyan, Pauline, Maris), in China Bank (April, sobrang thanks!) -- the coolest people Corinne, Dana, Kristle, KarKar, it was nice to meet you all.

Hope to see you all on Feb 23 and THANK YOU!

- Ali, Torres, Kate, Chuggs, Paz, Trisha, Ivette & Diaz

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Missing Tiudypie

God, I miss her so much.

How I ache for those times I should've, could've been with her. But wasn't. Because of what? What what what?

How I wish I could've listened to her more, tried more -- to understand why she did the things she did. Why she loved too much even though it hurt her.

(our pic taken at her house, back in college)

I want to be with her for one last time. Just make up for lost time.

But Lord, God, you have your ways. And I cannot question that.

How is she Lord? Is she okay, is she happy? Does she watch over us? Can you tell her I'm sorry? Can you tell her I still love her, never stopped loving her and knowing she's the best friend in the world?

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Today my best friend died. And I know nothing will ever be the same again.

My heart is aching and breaking. She left this world too soon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Falling for the Zohan

When You Don't Mess with the Zohan premiered last 2008, comedy fans and escapists like me trooped to the cinema and almost fell off our chairs laughing. Ironic and improbable as it was, Zohan (played by Adam Sandler) is a tough Israeli Commander who fakes his death to pursue his dream of becoming a hair-stylist in New York.

Still, I always felt guilty behind my laughter because I didn't agree with the overall politics of the film. Looking at it in a critical way, given the history of the Middle East and America, Zohan was created to distantiate the American citizen from his fear of stereotypi
cal, dark-haired, bearded and terrorist Middle Eastern man. Zohan might have been an anti-terrorist go-to-guy, but he never thought twice in employing violent tactics to get ahead of his enemies. Worse, Zohan is reduced to dreaming the American dream. And this is the country that has decades of history of warfare and injustice against the Middle East, reasoning that it's counter-terrorism. In the end, the film producers conceal the truth and naturalize the wars and racism in the form of an amusing and hilarious comedy film.

But film texts and politics aside, a recent experience made me remember Zohan, the straight, sex machine hair-stylist, whose got hundreds of older women lining up for a hair cut and more. The sex part was an exaggeration and green humor device I suppose. But I guess the logic was that these women loved Zohan because here's a guy who knew how to make a woman not only look beautiful, but also feel beautiful.

Last weekend, I think I might have found my Zohan. :-)
Fate led me to a an upper-class type parlor is Metropolis, Ortigas. My Zohan (for the purposes of this article, I'll call him this way) was sporting a tight collared shirt, a hairstyle too funky and hip to be a straight guy's. A leather bag full of scissors and hairstyling what-not strapped to his bulging chest, my Zohan cleared his throat and smiled as the receptionist introduced us. My Zohan was too masculine to be gay!

There was no seductive, sizzling shampooing experience. But it was just sexy the way he said, "Ako bahala"("Leave it to me") to my "Uhm, I have no idea what to do with my hair".

Smooth and silky-- this was Zohan's motto, in the film that is.

And that is what my Zohan exactly did. He dyed my hair light brown, fit to my fair skin, he said. Then softened the the bristles and tassles with a good old warm hot oil treatment. But the best part was, the cutting of hair!

He was in control, concentrating on the task at hand. He cut, then gazed at me, lifted a pile of hair, stared then cut again. But always, always, glancing at me with an abrupt gaze. And I just knew this guy, My Zohan, is a sensitive woman's man, who knew important it was for a girl to feel beautiful. Forget those guys who laughed and hissed at their girlfriend's 30-minute powder room break! Who didn't give a damn if it's a light blue chiffon dress or a silky red ensemble. Or didn't even notice his girl's got a new hair style. Here is a guy who finally understood.

When he applied his finishing touches and unhooked the white gown, I had to stop myself from demanding more, "Pakiiklian pa nga!" I was devastated it had to end. And I knew all there was left to do was give him a hearty tip and the sweetest smile I could muster.

And now I just can't wait for my hair to grow back and find another reason to visit my Zohan for another beauty session.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Love You, Goodbye

First things first. Let me clarify that this is not a movie review.

This is what I have resolved not to write once I stepped out of the movie house, with my face furrowed with a mixture of disdain and disbelief. Besides, it's not even an hour's worth of writing!

But you are now, you say.

Again, this is not a review. I write this on behalf of my responsibility as an intelligent viewer and a graduate of Filmmaking in U.P. Diliman. I do this because I’m a concerned citizen.

Sure, just like everyone else who paid the expensive tickets, I was deceived that the film, though in its obvious commercial/mainstream value, still has a great story to tell. I also felt it was interesting to see how Angelica Panganiban's thespian skills have evolved since Santa Santita. And yeah, it didn't hurt Derek Ramsey is such a catch!

In the film, Angelica Panganiban is Leizl, a coffee shop barista living in with Dr. Adrian (played by Gabby Concepcion). Adrian is a rich man, soon to be divorced to his ex-wife, played by Angel Aquino.

Early on in the film, the all-too-familiar theme of economic status difference is revealed. Adrian's mom is the quintessential matriarch, who thinks poor Leizl is just after her son's money. Boohoo. Leizl appears to carry on, believing that Adrian's love is enough, even as Adrian's daughter Issa (Kim Chiu) apparently loathe her and did not waste any screen time to show her predictable bratty, attention-hungry portrayal.

But hang on, viewer! This is not the story altogether. Surely, there's a twist. And sweet and obedient as Leizl is (like a puppy on her sugar daddy's lap!), a poor girl like her certainly has ghosts in her closet. In a long, seemingly unending, distasteful flashback, we find out that two years ago, Leizl was madly in love with Gary (played by real-life boyfriend Derek Ramsay), a struggling, lower-class and blue-collared worker like her. They were happy and had the grandest plans for a bright future ahead. In a few days, they were off to work in a cruise ship, to earn lots of moolah. Only one test to go and they were off. Unfortunately, Leizl wasn’t able to jump off the boat out of an anxiety attack. Gary is furious and leaves for the cruise ship, without even saying goodbye. This left poor Leizl heart-broken and lonely.

Without even attempting to heal on her own, Leizl finds solace in the arms of Adrian, who, coincidentally is the doctor who treated her for her anxiety attack (note that Adrian was a heart surgeon in the film. To the writers, did you actually do some research?).

When Gary comes back to the Philippines for Leizl, our protagonist is torn between him and Adrian. It is in these parts that I find Leizl's characterization offensive. At first, she was seemingly loyal to Adrian. But when Adrian became aloof and cold-hearted to her one day, Leizl was quick to jump ship and have sex with her ex. When both men propose marriage to her, Leizl chooses Gary over Adrian.

I Love You Goodbye is portraying a Filipina heroine as someone who is subordinate to men, and relies her happiness and identity to men. Shown as weak, fickle and impulsive, Leizl is an object that men compete for. They brandish their shiny cars, riches and diamond rings to win the woman's affection and eventually, love. And yes, a woman's woes and aches can be erased when the church bells ring and a man finally marries her.

When Gary doesn't show up at their meeting place to elope, Leizl is again a mess. But, well, there's a guy waiting for me at home, Leizl thinks. I might as well marry this guy.

Just as the film was about to end with Leizl's conlusion to marry her "second choice, it is revealed that Gary died on his way to meet Leizl. And Adrian was the informant who reported his death. I guess this is the part they say the film resembled Unfaithful. Leizl confronts Adrian, who confesses that he knew for some time about Leizl's affair. That in his jealousy, he confronted Gary to walk away and leave him and his future bride alone. But in an illogical, hilarious and contrived twist of fate, Gary is ran over by a speeding car.

And for the final blow of it all, I Love You Goodbye concludes with a happy ending. A utopian world, that might as well have been a scene in twilight zone, where all is forgiven and forgotten.

And love simply conquered all, smoothing out the edges, erasing all the evil in the world.

The characters can smile all they want, but it cannot fool me and the rest of the moviegoers. Again, Star Cinema shows us how their cowardice in telling genuine stories and reflecting the realities of life.

Instead, their example and the rest of the rotten films of MMFF 2010 are constant insults to the great films produced in MMFF in the past. Remember Mike de Leon’s “Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising” (1977) and “Kisapmata” (1981), Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala” (1982), Lino Brocka’s “Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo” (1979), and Chito Roño’s “Dekada ’70” (2002).

Wake up, movie big wigs! It's time to put your money and influence to good use. Revive Philippine Cinema's golden era now!